Monday, January 31, 2011

Getting sorted

OK, it's high time that I try and get sorted somehow.
I've read a lot of stuff during the last two weeks or so and I think it would be useful to get some order into what I'm doing.
What I've done up to now is browsing through cck11 material, like blogs of fellow participants, the reading material on the cck11 website, #cck11 tweets and so on. When I found a link, that I thought was interesting I followed it and often there were new interesting links, which I also followed.
I was kind of meandering through unknown landscapes using means of transportation like Twitter, RSS feeds, Diigo groups I haven’t been familiar with up to now. When you start somewhere and everything is unfamiliar, I think that’s a great way of getting a feel for your surroundings. But now, I have the feeling that to make it more productive for myself I want to get some structure into the whole process.

So I identified some areas of interest, I want to follow up the next few weeks.
As a first step this seems very important to me. I am interested in lots of different things and I get sidetracked easily. I don’t want to reduce the range of things I find exciting but rather make an agreement with myself on what I’m going to concentrate on to become more productive – personally and professionally. As this blog for me is work related in a broad sense, I want to concentrate on topics that fall into that area. It might still be fun to list or visualize my other more private areas of interest in some other place. After all on the highest level - that for me is “my life” - they are all connected and can cross-fertilize each other. And what is private today may become job related at some time in future. But still, for pragmatic reasons, I want to concentrate on a few defined subject matters for the time being, as they are:

1. Personal knowledge management (or PKM as it’s also called, as I found out)
This will be the corner stone of everything else I’m doing here. PKM is about developing a personal strategy to identify, collect, interpret and share information. What are useful tools, what is the best way to organize this process, how can this process be adapted to different contexts – my own and that of clients?

2. Remote collaborative working
This is about ways to jointly work on a specific project. At the moment I’m involved in designing a course on quality management with colleagues from all over Germany. How do we get organized? What platforms are there, that we could use? Are there any additional useful tools?

3. Online supported learning and education
This is a huge field, I know. I’ve always been interested in that topic, but I’ve never been convinced by classical elearning concepts. I once participated in a course on quality management offered by a German university just to see, what methods they use and how it works out for me and was very disappointed. The concept was to provide scripts online and ask a few questions afterwards. When you sent in the answers you got a certificate at the end. There was a forum for participants, that wasn’t much used and the facilitators weren’t very communicative. I know, this is not representative but it was a German university and it was just 18 months or so ago.
There are many very exciting projects out there and a wealth of theoretical reflection. Connectivism, the topic of the cck11 course I take part in, is closely linked to that topic, so is the lifelong learning concept promoted for example by the EU. At the moment I want to approach that topic very broadly and give myself some time to find out how any of this is applicable to specific projects of my own.

4. Social media and knowledge management (KM) in organizations
How can an organizations use social media for their internal and external communication? What are effective ways of knowledge management in an organization? There is a discussion going on about the difference between social business and “enterprise 2.0”. Is this discussion relevant to my context, what are the different positions?
Again, this is a huge topic and it is connected to other topics, I’ve identified for myself. How does PKM of individuals tie in with knowledge management in an organization? How do people within an organization collaborate on projects? What about workplace learning?
And of course it ties in with quality management, the area I’m mainly working in at the moment. So, lots of interesting aspects and as with online supported learning I want to keep a very open mind in the beginning.

5. Quality Management in social and educational organisations
It’s funny – up to now I haven’t found any lively discussions going on about the theory and practice of quality management. Maybe I haven’t looked in the right places. I tried a few key words on Twitter, I looked for relevant blogs – and I haven’t found a lot. Maybe that’s because the whole QM business is very regulated, which doesn’t necessarily encourage open discussion. In Germany there is a central accreditation institute, which in its turn accredits other organizations, giving them the right to issue ISO 9001 certificates for example. To work as an ISO 9001 auditor, you have to have a certain training and take an exam in the end. When you offer these trainings, you as the trainer and the training material you work with have to be accredited again, otherwise your participants are not permitted to take the exams. And I suppose it’s similar in other countries as the ISO norms are publish by the ISO – the International Organization for Standardization
But I certainly will go on looking for relevant discussions of that topic and if there really aren’t any  - maybe it is possible to get one going.

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