I’m at the Glasgow @LnDConnect unconference and want to share some thoughts about what I’ve been hearing today.
The theme of the day is ‘creative and daring’. Interpret that as you will, and it creates some useful guidance for how to help learning organisations be better/different.
The concept of an unconference is uncommon, and for many is just unknown. It’s possible to spend a day with a group of people with no clear agenda, no suppliers selling products, no case studies and no keynote speeches? How does that work? What does that look like?
Kev Wyke did a super job of helping people understand how to create their own agenda. He described the day as being the longest and best coffee break you’ve ever had. I love that, and he really invited people to be comfortable with doing whatever they want to. He ran through the ‘principles and one law of Open Space’, which helped people understand how they should be in this type of situation.
As happens, people offered topics to talk about and placed them on the agenda wall. And suddenly we were ready to start.
I was in a conversation with a group where we were speaking about ‘how to be and let others be’. It was a very open question, which lead us to talking about emotions, neuroscience, existentialism, thinking patterns, culture, power relationships, and a whole load of other stuff. It was quite an energising conversation. People were being taken on tracks of thought all over the show. It’s fascinating to see that happen and experience it.
The second topic I participated in was a Collaborate Live session with Mike Collins. There were a lot of wins in this topic which I loved. First, although Mike felt nervous, he interviews really well, and is clearly knowledgeable in talking all things communities. Subject matter expertise is important. What’s more important is knowing how to share that knowledge. For me, that’s when learning is at its best. Mike shared great content and ideas about how to cultivate an online community, what it can do for people, how to be mindful of the culture you’re in, and more stuff.
What really worked well was that the Live session had a very interactive presence on the Twitter backchannel. It was great to read people’s tweets about the topic and responding to Mike directly. That worked well for me.
As does happen at these unconferences, people still find opportunities to talk in their coffee breaks. It’s an interesting set of behaviours. We talk about how at conferences the best bit is the talking between sessions. Even in this unconference environment, where people are talking as default, they still find space to talk more. I don’t know what that means, or what implies, but it’s just an observation.
Some other observations are:
– we (L&Ders) are open to experimenting in an environment like this, but find it hard to challenge the establishment when we’re back at work
– we know and feel that there are good and better ways to include others and let them be, but find it hard to articulate these things in a work context
– there can be a real zeitgeist to learn all the new skills becoming ever present in digital and their application to L&D. This is a double edged sword, and potentially quite damaging to individuals and their skills
– the use of social tools like Twitter as a collaboration and learning tool for L&Ders is met with the same responses as people in the business when asked to use new technologies
I’m overhearing a conversation about ‘failing forward’. It’s intriguing me, and I’m being drawn to it.
Today is the height of personal learning at its best. There is informal learning, there are tech adopters, there are agitators, there are people on the periphery, there is use of tech as an active tool, and its ok for all of this to happen, and for none of it to happen.