Monday, September 30, 2013

Tools for Learning [Thanks to Jane Hart's efforts]

Today, Jane Hart released her 7th annual Top 100 Tools for Learning (2013), the results of votes of over 500 learning professionals in workplace learning and education from 48 countries worldwide. 

[“A learning tool is a tool for your own personal learning or one that you use for teaching or training.” Hart’s definition of Learning Tools]

This overview can inform your own concept of tools you can utilize as part of your own metaliteracy quest.

I’d suggest you look at Hart’s analysis (a revealing look at major changes) as well as at her historical overview of Top 100 Tools 2007-2013 (an alphabetic list of all tools that have been on the list over its 7-year history).

Where do your current favorites show up on this list? 

Is it time you investigate (and, more importantly, start using) other tools?

Thursday, September 26, 2013


To continue my previous post Getting the MESSAGE OUT and Getting MESSAGES BACK – About Blogging as a Tool and Tools in General [i], I’d like to tell you a story about a PKN (Personal Knowledge Network) journey I recently took.

To frame this PKN experience, I should preface it by giving you some context: I am interested in Learning in Organizations, both “Learning Organizations” AND “Organizational Learning”. In researching the topic, I found/discovered Jane Hart, Collaboration Consultant and founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT), one of the world’s most visited learning sites on the Web.[ii] A webinar ‘junkie’, I attended a GoToTraining Webinar on Social and Collaborative Learning in the Workplace given by Jane Hart (August 2012)[iii] and added her blog, Learning in the Social Workplace, to my Outlook RSS feed reader.

This story demonstrates how discovery doesn't necessarily occur in chronological order.
  1. It starts with Hart’s blog post “How do we deal with unwilling corporate learners?” (September 22nd), which responds to Schlenker’s blog comment:  The truth is, there are no learning problems in corporate settings. There are only people unwilling to learn” (September 20th). Hart’s post develops a wonderful matrix of self-directed/directed and willing/unwilling learners, which I just had to share with the Metaliteracy MOOC.
  2. My blogging juices get flowing and I write my “Getting the MESSAGE OUT” post (September 25th) which is fueled by Hart’s ideas. I agree with Schlenker’s other blog statement:Learning is about People, NOT technology” and need to follow up on his observation that “people still don't take advantage of new technologies for learning” and that “so many workers choose to leave their learning in the hands of others.”
  3. More on the topic from Clark Quinn (another blogger in my RSS feed and, like Hart, a member of the Internet Time Alliance): “Being explicit about corporate learning” (September 25th) [unfortunately, AFTER I had posted mine]. Quinn observes that “the ability to be a self-directed learning is a skill issue” and that “learning-to-learn or meta-learning skills may or may not exist in any particular individual” which can be explicitly developed while willingness to learn is a question of responsibility and attitude. [The issue of attitude is one Quinn addressed back in April 2006 and he hyperlinks back to that earlier blog post.] He concludes by coupling learning environment with culture: “Learning has to be explicit, safe, valued, modeled, and expected. Learners need to be empowered with tools, coached, and formatively evaluated.
  4. I now feel the need to chronicle the way ideas are shared, thoughts are developed and connected in an asynchronous environment through blogs. And, knowing that an image helps, put this mindmeld into a graphic.

The end of the saga leading to this post.

So, dear readers, I ask you: 
  • Is it the technologies? 
  • Is it attitude? 
  • Is it willingness? 
  • Do you see yourself in some of these observations? 
  • Do you feel the tools are empowering? 
  • Or overwhelming? 
  • Are you comfortable with asynchronicity? 
  • Do you agree that this is part of metaliteracy?


Hart, Jane. "How do we deal with unwilling corporate learners?." Learning in the Social Workplace. N.p., 22 Sept. 2013. Web. 26 Sept. 2013. <>.
Herzog, Kate S. "Getting the MESSAGE OUT and Getting MESSAGES BACK – About Blogging as a Tool and Tools in General." Beyond Information Literacy. N.p., 25 Sept. 2013. Web. 26 Sept. 2013. <>.
Quinn, Clark. "Attitudinal Change." Learnlets. N.p., 20 Apr. 2006. Web. 26 Sept. 2013. <>.
Quinn, Clark. "Being explicit about corporate learning." Learnlets. N.p., 25 Sept. 2013. Web. 26 Sept. 2013. <>.
Schlenker, Brent. "Welcome back..." Corporate eLearning Strategies and Development. N.p., 20 Sept. 2013. Web. 26 Sept. 2013. <>.

[i] Herzog, Kate S. “Getting the MESSAGE OUT and Getting MESSAGES BACK – About Blogging as a Tool and Tools in General

[ii] Hart is a prodigious and knowledgeable blogger [see her “Quick Guide to Blogging Tools”],  author of the Social Learning Handbook, surveyor of “The Top 100 Tools for Learning” (results of results of the 7th Annual Learning Tools survey will be released 9-30-13) and author of “A Practical Guide to the Top 100 Tools for Learning,” which describes the essential features of each tool. I could go on extolling her accomplishments…but it suffices to say she IS one of my role models.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Getting the MESSAGE OUT and Getting MESSAGES BACK – About Blogging as a Tool and Tools in General

The topic I’m currently pondering is Blogging, a tool that provides a platform on which you can crystalize your thoughts, opinions, or views into an Internet post. If your purpose is to do only that – to create an artifact (perhaps because it is required for your course), you probably don’t care about “What happens then?” But every guide to blogging I’ve read says that its goal is to engage the reader – in contemplation and/or in conversation – to grow and develop the thought and to get feedback from your readers. Blogging is a way of finding a virtual community.

So I wanted to say how much I appreciate the Metaliteracy MOOC Daily Newsletter, which serves as an aggregator of Participants' Blog Posts, New Discussion Threads, Comments, Diigo Posts, and Twitter Posts. However, this MOOC’s aggregation software DOES frustrate me – it does NOT collocate materials. Comments on Blog Posts and New Threads don’t sit with the materials that spawned them. And the software leads one to comment, not on the page where the post resides (where is WOULD be collocated as a thread) but in a chronological stream of comments. Does anyone else find this frustrating? Have you considered posting your comment directly on the blog, rather than (or in addition to) doing so using the MOOC’s comment link?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Metalearning: Learning How to Learn (part 1)

I came upon a very relevant blog post from Jane Hart (one of the sources I use in my “Learning Organization” PLN): How do we deal with unwilling corporate learners?
Hart, whose blog posts often contain quite informative visuals, notes that people who are independent (willing) learners will learn regardless of teaching methodology. Unwilling learners, on the other hand, expect to be taught. Since instructional designers and trainers try to motivate the unwilling, their methods often frustrate their more willing classmates. She also observes that there are those who are willing to learn but don’t know how to learn independently. What they need is direction - “help to revive their innate ability to learn.” Finally Hart notes that unwilling, traditional (directed) learners need help in becoming self-directed, finding suitable learning styles, and help in taking responsibility and accountability for their own learning. [There is a lesson for teachers in Hart’s message: one size cannot fit all learners.]

Learner Characteristics
What Learners Need
Sharon Boller, a well-respected instructional design guru, notes in her response to Hart’s blog the importance of creating a “self-directed environment.” She also observes that “information overload is not conducive to a self-directed approach to learning.” On the corporate side, she perceives “The luxury of time is an essential ingredient to a self-directed learning approach. You need time to explore, time to make some mistakes, time to reflect on what it is you are learning. Corporate America is very short on time. Hence, I think we’ve evolved directed approaches to learning that try to minimize the time required for people to learn…. I also think we do a poor job in corporate American at distinguishing what we truly need for people to learn to do and what we simply want them to be able to find/locate as they need it. So we create overly elaborate learning solutions for things that we don’t really intend for people to remember and under-cut the learning situations that need to be far more robust for people to truly gain skill or in-depth knowledge.”
The moral of this story for teachers is to focus on problem-solving, rather than on facts that can be referenced when needed.

Source: Hart, Jane. "How do we deal with unwilling corporate learners?." Learning in the Social Workplace. N.p., 22 Sept. 2013 Web. 22 Sept. 2013. <>.

Jack of all Trades? – A Metacognitive Musing
In their Curriculum 2.0 wiki , Dennis Harter and Justin Medved summarize:

“Reflection has always been is a powerful tool used to develop as a learner and individual. Today there are so many different ways in which an individual can acquire knowledge, communicate and learn about the world. Understanding yourself and which learning environments and information streams work best for you are important components of successful navigation in this information and learning landscape. Central to this is “learning how to learn” and developing in individuals an awareness of how they learn best and the different tools that are available to them for different informational situations. Growing an understanding about of the various learning strategies they employ and the types of resources they access in order to meet their information and learning needs are crucial elements to growing as learner today”. [The bolding is mine.]

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Metaliteracy as a definition of 21st Century Learning Skills

This great recent ‘insight’ by Kumar Snehansu nails it! He observes that: “Education today is much more about ways of thinking which involves everyday creative and critical approaches to problem-solving and decision-making. It is also about ways of working as well as the tools they require, such as the capacity to recognize and exploit the potential of new technologies and methods of teaching. These citizens influence what they want to learn and how they want to learn it, and it is this desire and inclination that shapes the role of educators.
So, whether you are a student, a teacher, or just a lifelong learner, Snehansu’s post covers all the bases:

  • Become a self-teacher– Its true definition can be quoted as ‘building the ability to learn without the exclusive teaching of a teacher or other such authority figure (parents, tutor, etc.)’. This is very different from learning being just an instruction designed to help students consume existing bodies of knowledge and actually this is the ultimate goal of any education system.

  • Application based knowledge– building a broad set of basic skills needed by everyone for life and work in the 21st century. This is a totally different approach of education by encouraging students to accumulate knowledge-based credentials only but instead applying the skills online on various real-time contests and scenarios.

  • Sharers not just consumers of knowledge– using knowledge to develop new knowledge, as opposed to ‘getting’ existing knowledge and having no contribution of oneself. Using blogs and other forums to have detailed discussions and debates on topics.

  • Helping mentally challenged co-students globally– instead of pressurizing them to cover their tracks they should be allowed to work at their own pace, and in contexts of interest to them. It is the opposite of ‘one-size-fits-all’ approaches.

  • Generating Multi-tasking skills – such as analyzing, synthesizing, creative thinking, and practical thinking and so on. The 21st century expects that these would be developed implicitly, not just via exposure to the traditional subjects.

  • Add to ‘right brain thinking’– the idea that ‘left brain thinking’ (logical, analytic, detail-oriented thinking) is necessary, but no longer sufficient, and ‘right brain thinking (aesthetic, synthesizing, simultaneous, ‘big picture’ thinking) is now just as important.

  • Developing collaborative skills – people skills and emotional intelligence has become more easy and compulsory both for a good network.

Isn't this metacognition and metaliteracy in a nutshell?

Snehansu, Kumar. "What Students Should Know About 21st Century Learning?." EdTechReview. N.p., 14 Sept. 2013. Web. 21 Sept. 2013. <>.