past experiences. and more to come…

5 12 2006

over on learning circuits blog, we’ve got our third installment of the big question going.  actually this month it’sXmaslightsnodrawerorang three questions.

what will you remember most about 2006?
what are the biggest challenges for you/us as we head into 2007?
what are your predictions for 2007?

so here’s my bit of self-reflection before the blogosphere.

what will i remember about 2006?

it would be quite easy for me to simply label 2006 a disaster area and walk away from it  wondering what the number was on that bus that hit me.  (no not  literally.)   instead i’ve taken my struggle to find meaningful work as an indicator that i had other more important work to do first.  so using the crutch that i was going through what dotlich/noe/walker describe as a leadership passage in their book with that name and my savings slowly dwindling with every resume sent out and never responded to, i embarked on a mission to see what others around me do, how they handle situations, what do they do to handle all the information and seemingly unlimited number of opportunities to try something new.

but, i believe as a direct result of having to do the soul searching work i’ve had to do, i’ve had the chance to do some very positive things for myself this year.  one truly positive experience was working with jay cross on the beta test of his unworkshop.  the opportunity to help build a course that was seeking to truly practice what we preach was a awesome.  while there were times we struggled and there were times when we were both exasperated with each other, what we began cobbling together back in february has evolved into an experience that now seems to be transformational to those who go through it. 

there were two other benefits that came through working with jay on the unworkshop.  one was to have the chance to be so close to a master, watch his world literally crumble under his feet (no one who was there the first week of the beta would want to relive the experience!), and then witness as he righted himself, reoriented himself and completed the three week beta in a blaze of glory with a brilliant "final exam."  jay’s performance and, in my role as the course coach, my chance to be sole witness to all of it was my lesson in the power of informal learning through apprenticeship. 

the other positive that came directly from the unworkshop beta was my first two professional publications.  camille jenson asked several of us from the unworkshop to submit articles for a special edition of the alberta distance educaton newsletter she was editing.  then this august, loretta donovan, one of my coaching victims from the unworkshop, invited me to pen the article i mentioned here last week. 

the last two personal highlights were watching george siemen’s very open process in conceptualizing his new book, knowing knowledge.  i ended up being one of the last to review the manuscript for george before he published.  to read such powerful thought, and have an  impact on it’s published work is why i loved working in textbook publishing years ago.  check out knowing knowledge, it’s free to download and it could well change the way you think and learn.  finally i’ve had the tremendous opportunity to work with tony karrer, one of the real up and comers in learning, as we’ve worked together to start the big question feature of which this post is a part.  the distributed conversations have been dynamite and lcb has never seen this level of participation. 

but my 2006 wasn’t all about me.  it was a year that saw web 2.0 explode onto the learning scene mimicking the general population.  lms’s and lcms’s are almost only spoken of in conversations about things that aren’t working.  wikis, podcasts, rss feeds, social networking tools joined blogs as power tools of the forward looking.  in a move that only surprised me in that it took so long to happen, corporate intranets were "discovered" by the learning world.  informal learning gained more urgency throughout the year.  half the time, i couldn’t figure out if jay cross was riding that wave masterfully or if he was the wave machine causing the wave.  second life took on a life of it’s own.  including spillover from it’s fictional economy into the real world economy and visa versa (starwood hotels, nike, and reuters are just a few dual world vendors) making the singularity seem all the more real. 

it also seemed that the corporate learning world took some time to gather itself after several years of incredible effort to gain credibility and position in the enterprise.  but foundational questions about evaluation and assessment, the substance of the arguments and cornerstone beliefs we cling to, and the continued  worry that we’re not ready for that office in the corporate suite seemed to have much of the industry on  edge by the end of the year.  but that may also be explained by what seems to be a bi-annual cycle of doubt and hand wringing that our field seems particularly inclined toward.

whew!  that was exhausting.  if you followed me this far, thank you.  i think i’m going to give both of us a break and break this assignment into at least two parts.   so, one down, two to go.

next:  present  challenges.   and  future predictions.


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2 responses

6 12 2006
Tony Karrer

I’ve enjoyed working with you as well Dave. So, what happened the first week of the workshop?

6 12 2006
dave lee

well, tony, for various reasons i believe it’s a tale for jay to tell, but i’ll leave it at we made some assumptions and tried a approach that just blew up in our faces. nobody was happy. it was a worst case scenario for a beta. but at least it was a beta test. everyone knew that we were just testing a grand experiment and, because of it being a beta, they were able to be patient.

jay’s openness to feedback, willingness to abandon key assumptions, wide reaching knowledge, and shear determination and self-confidence led to a process of constant revision throughout the rest of the course. At the end of the course, the feedback was unanimous that the time and money was well worth the benefit.

More importantly, i know that four of the seven participants have been applying the knowledge they gained in the beta in their day-to-day activity. i haven’t had contact with the other three since the course, so i can’t say whether or not they are benefiting from the course.

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