Sunday, 25 November 2012
We have in interesting dynamic going on at work. Yammer's been released into the wild! "Hoorah!", you might think; and that's certainly been the reaction from a proportion of my #PLN (Personal Learning Network) on Twitter when I mentioned it last week - something for which I cannot take any direct responsibility, however.
It appears that it's sneaked in via a back-door approach that Microsoft exploits, whereby it invites a user or users into the Yammer network via their publicly-available work e-mail address, and then those people invite others into the network, who then join up in the mistaken belief that it's been officially sanctioned. Indeed, I was invited to join the Yammer community by my Boss! It now seems that our colleagues in IT have been caught on the hop and that this cloud-based Yammer instance is unsecured and outwith our corporate firewall.
What's really interesting tho' is the speed and enthusiasm with which my colleagues - across the whole business - are jumping onto the bandwagon. There's an obvious thirst and enthusiasm for the tool and the conversations that are opening up. So we have a dilemma...
Do we (HR and IT) get all 'command and control' and close it down arbitrarily (we're going to get an internal collaboration tool in our new 'Employee Portal' intranet next year anyway), or do we take a leap of faith, sit back and see how it plays out?
I reckon that, with some lead-by-example input (this blog being one of them) and some light touch 'don't be a d**k' guidance, this could be a real opportunity to show trust, encourage engagement and - bottom line - see some authentic dialogue, conversations and collaborative activity start to happen.
I think there are going to be some very interesting discussions during the next couple of weeks.
What would you do in the circumstances? What would your corporate/IT/HR view be in the circumstances? I'd love to hear and share your thoughts and opinions with our new, growing internal network - and maybe create some new channels and relationships amongst us all. At least until we shut it down...
Sunday, 18 November 2012
Did you vote for your new local Police and Crime Commissioner in the UK elections on Thursday evening last week? Did you know anything about the change in policing accountability or who the candidates standing in your area actually were? Did you know anything about them, their background, political allegiances, knowledge and skills to take on this responsible role?
Do you care a) that you do or don't know, b) that only a few people actually seemed to be aware, and c) that those new PCCs who were elected into post only had the mandate of about 7% (average) of the entire population of your area because of the low numbers who turned out to vote?
I ask these questions because I was dismayed by the whole thing! I had a vague memory of the Government announcing that this change was coming (but can't remember when that announcement was made). The first I became aware that the election was forthcoming was the arrival of our Polling Cards in the post several weeks ago. We received no election leafleting at home, apart from one candidate two days before the election.
So I chose to find out for myself - I 'googled' 'Police and Crime Commissioner', found the local authority and government websites, followed the links to the 'Choose My PCC' website, where I was able to find out who the candidates were, their political (or not) affiliations and their election manifestos. As a result, I had already selected my first - and second - choices before I voted.
However, it appears that I was one of the few who had enough interest and/or capability to do this! Regular readers will know that I worked for Sussex Police for 8.5 years, so also know that I have an interest in the subject, but the point of this blog is that the whole event has called into question my - and I suspect a lot of other people's - view that we live in an all-connected, online world, wherein everyone knows everything or can find out the information that they need/want at the drop of mouse-click.
Just because I chose to search out the information and used my online skills and connections to find out the information, it never actually occurred to me that others might not want - nor have the interest and/or skills - to do the same.
In the world of learning and development, much of the current thrust of the discussion is about how we underestimate our learners' capacity and capability to seek out new information and learning, and how we must create more opportunities for them to assume the ownership of and responsibility for that learning. It appears that the government and the organisers of the PCC elections made the same assumption and took the same approach with the British public. However, whilst in L&D, there is a good likelihood that our learners have an interest in either the subject at hand or in their own career/educational development, the Government's miscalculation appears to be in the fact that the public wasn't that interested in the first place, didn't want to invest any time or energy in finding out about the subject and were waiting to be spoon-fed the information in more traditional ways.
So what was needed here, folks, was a blended approach to the PCC elections - no presumptions of interest or engagement in the topic; no reliance on one source of the information, nor assumptions that one size fitted everyone! There should have been a push and pull, multi-media approach to the change communication, with relevant, contextual detail available and refreshed regularly. Kinda like what we're trying to do in L&D nowadays. They should have come and spoken to us first.
See my latest #storify on how the #pcc elections played out in my #twitter and #facebook communities, at http://storify.com/niallgavinuk/not-so-well-connected. And please add your thoughts in a comment.
Saturday, 18 August 2012
I think there's a message here for us about what the future of learning looks like and what UK schools, further and continuing education/learning providers need to consider and act on. Front-loading alone does not work. We don't know best, but we can certainly help our learners to develop their curiosity, questioning and analysis skills. And we need to provide relevance, context, curation, facilitation, empowerment, access and the media and technology channels to enable them to be applied. It's beginning to happen and I'm excited by the opportunities.
If you have AS, A2 and/or GCSE results coming this week and next, what's been your experience? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. Good luck to you and yours too!
Post Script: Sam got his AS results on Thursday. Sufficient passes in Music Tech and Film Studies to allow him to carry them forward to A2, starting in September. He's dropped ICT, so we can gloss over that result. Just Maths GCSE to come now on 23rd August. We are quietly confident.
Thursday, 2 August 2012
Theatre: When Mandy and I were in Scarborough, we went to the theatre to see Alan Ayckbourn's new play "Surprises". Scarborough is the home of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, the cradle of his play writing and directing for many years now. I was totally caught up in the drama and humour of the piece, totally engaged with the characters and thoroughly enjoyed the faultless performances of the ensemble cast. The three acts flew past. At the end of the piece, as the cast took their bows, I found myself applauding enthusiastically, but with tears streaming down my cheeks. I was moved and sad at the same time. Why? Because - if you didn't know this already - I used to be a professional actor. I went to Drama College and graduated with the intention of becoming a Drama Teacher. However, I elected to follow the theatrical path and became an actor, a career I pursued for some 12 years, until other priorities (like earning a decent wage, being able to pay the rent, save for a house, start a family - you know, that stuff), became more important and I stepped away and moved into training. But I remember the feeling of performing, being part of an ensemble, interacting emotionally, exercising and developing my first choice craft, and, yes, soaking up the applause at the end. I still miss it. I need to find that passion and inspiration again in my work life.
I FELT torn - enthralled and energised by the play, but sad that my first choice career never worked out.
Trains: We spent a day on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, travelling from Goathland to Grosmont, then all the way to Pickering and back. This is without a doubt the best working 'heritage' railway I have ever visited. Mainline steam trains travelling through stunning scenery for up to an hour-long journey. The trainspotter geek, the inner free child and the nostalgia fan in me were all fully immersed and satisfied in the joy of a day with steam trains. Mandy said that half of her enjoyment of the day was the pleasure of seeing me enjoying myself so much, and in fact, she tweeted a photo of me expressing my excitement, which I reproduce here, for your enjoyment/amusement. You can see the pictures of the day, as well as the rest of our holiday, on my new Flickr site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/niallgavinuk/sets/72157630821521698/
I FELT unalloyed 'free child' joy and happiness.
Marriage: Throughout our holiday, Mandy and I are spending quality time together, without considering the day-to-day issues of work/life imbalance, financial worries, managing the household, etc. We walk, we talk, we laugh, we dine out, we drink, we read, we argue, we smooch...
I FEEL a deeper love for and connection with my wife.
Olympics: During the home-based week of our UK staycation, I am watching a lot of the London 2012 Olympics, and am genuinely and pleasantly surprised at how much I am enjoying the experience. I have watched so many different sports, and really got caught up in the excitement and the emotion of each and every one of them. I am so impressed and inspired by the passion, commitment, strength and athleticism of these young people - and, having been a bit of an Olympics sceptic beforehand (impact on London commuters, G4S, ticket lottery and empty seats), have been completely won round by the logistics and the organisation of the whole event. It's a pleasure to see the athletes and the public united in enjoying this unique event in London.
I FEEL proud to be British.
(On further reflection, that Olympics paragraph ties in with the concluding contrary remarks of my last, rather downbeat, blog, "We're only little - and our time is short"- "I actually think that there is much to love about us humans; that we can do remarkable things and show astonishing creativity, compassion, generosity, mindfulness and tenacity. That's why I'm in Learning and Development.")
So, why are all these experiences resonating? Because in each case, I was/am caught up in the emotional, sensed moment - not intellectualising, not over-analysing, just being. And that's a damn good reason for making sure that we have a lot more holidays and tune-out time, in the gift I have been given of the time that my Dad never got to enjoy. So, to conclude...
I FEEL GOOD!
I FEEL GOOD!
Friday, 20 July 2012
For someone who's always worked in and thrived on communication and people related activities, I've always held fairly negative views about the human race and its long-term future. We seem to have a built-in self-destruct driver, which historically has lead us into war, famine and ecological melt-down and I think our time is nearly up - maybe not immediately, but it's coming. So reading that collection of short stories satisfied my sense of righteous schadenfreude - we're gonna get what we deserve!
'Cos, here's the thing; on a cosmological/interplanetary timescale, we ain't been around that long. This big, old, world of ours has been orbiting our sun for billions of years, and the evolution of life hereon has taken millions and millions of those years (sorry, Creationists)! We've emerged fairly quickly and, ecologically, we seem to be doing an excellent job of ensuring that we're not going to be around for much longer. I guess the main message in these stories was, it's not the end of the world - it's the end of humanity! The world will go on, in whatever state we leave it, and will change again and again and again...
So, you see, we're not so big and we're not that clever. We're only little - and our time is short!
Sorry about that.
PS: I actually think that there is much to love about us humans; that we can do remarkable things and show astonishing creativity, compassion, generosity, mindfulness and tenacity. That's why I'm in Learning and Development. It's gotta be worth trying to delay the inevitable as long as possible.
Friday, 29 June 2012
Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Numbers and counting have been on my mind for a while now, and I could see a theme emerging which might be worth exploring in more detail. I've realised that I place a great deal of importance on numerical criteria - dates, deadlines, milestones, anniversaries, (occasionally ROI), totals, bank balances, days to pay day, etc. I blogged about the personal significance of outliving my Father on my last birthday in December - Age - Appropriate - and I recently posted my 21st blog about my first year of blogging - A Year in the Blogosphere . Shortly thereafter, I also posted my 5,000th tweet.
I recently engaged in a light-hearted exchange with someone in my Twitter network, Holly MacDonald (@sparkandco), which revolved around the number of followers I had in Canada (Holly's Canadian). Out of a previous discussion, when I ruefully disclosed that my blog stats indicated that I apparently only had one reader in Canada, Holly immediately offered her services as an advocate to launch a campaign to increase the number of my Canadian followers. We kicked the topic around for a few tweets, recognised that we were 'having a laugh' but when she suggested starting a #followniallgavinuk meme, we agreed that we'd probably gone as far as we needed to in that discussion.
And here's the thing; I had actually started to get really uncomfortable about discussing follower numbers, because I didn't - and don't - want people thinking that that's why I tweet and blog. If I attract followers to my Twitter stream or blog, I hope it's for the same reasons that I follow other people - that there is something of interest and value in our dialogue and exchange for all of us.
witter followers, my now 13 blog readers in Canada, my 34 Instagram followers and my 25 Storify subscribers - I hope we continue to share amongst and learn from each other. And if we don't, who's counting anyway?