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Last spring I agreed to be a steering group member for  Competence & Capability Development Community for Excellence Finland. It has about 900 members and organizes monthly events.  Riitta my colleague at Nokia, was looking someone to continue on her behalf  and  since life long learning has been one of my interest areas for years, I agreed to join in.

Steering groups members are asked to organize one session, providing practical examples, so I offered to run a Workshop on “Mobile Learning & Web 2.0” and promised to introduce opportunities of  social communities (Facebook and Ning), microblogging (Twitter & Yammer) and virtual worlds (Second Life and Sun’s  Project Wonderland)  as well as examples of mobile learning applications used within Nokia for strategy sharing and competence development. So September 24th, 2009 we had a workshop in Design Factory, Otaniemi.

We had a very interesting afternoon with good discussion – and I promised to share examples included in presentation and links demoed with participants. And instead of doing that with traditional e-mail – I would write a blog post about it – so it would be easily shared with others as well.

We started the workshop with short selections from two You Tube -videos:

  • A vision of a student today – describing the changes in learning & life from students’ perspective – by Michael Wesch’s students
  • Did You Know – describing the change around us – by originally Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod …

And we continued with questions how communication and  work life are changing and how possibilities for learning in business & work life are changing as well.  In the workshop I introduced examples and described possible uses of social media for learning and competence development. – People in small groups discussed what would be the possible benefits of using certain media and what concerns did they have .

I decided to use examples that are describing how the work itself is changing … how we work and how we learn as well.

As introduction I gave overview to social media channels. We started with a quick test, how much people knew about social media, and how much they had used them. For EFQM conference we had session related to Quality & Web 2.0 and we used Facebook Group Quality & Connected Life Web 2.0 prior to conference for discussion and sharing examples. I shared examples how work is accelerated and changed by use new media & crowd sourcing  – Google Marketing book done in 32 hours in Finland, We are Smarter than Me book creation &  Japanese Otetsudai Networks using mobile devices, Rendez project site build on Drupal, Dell Idea Storm & IBM Jams.

Examples at personal level-  Jeremiah Oywang, Luis Suarez & Sacha Chu – provide views to how professional people shared their findings with others and sources they are using for their personal learning.

Professional organizations have long been important for professional development – now use of social media communities provides new possibilities also between face-to-face meetings. -I used  Sometu -Ning Community ( Social Media Supporting Learning) as an example.
Microblogging with Twitter – provides fast channels for information sharing. Using examples from  a recent Twitter 140 Conference , and many people in Twitter helping in preparing the workshop, I shared stories how Twitter can help in professional learning.

Some use of new media I  demonstrated directly from internet, using Delicious bookmarks , Linked In and a live Google search, based on comments and question from participants.

In group discussions workshop participants game up with several possible benefits. Social media can help in finding latest information, being better connected to experts also internationally. It can provide access to new thinking and ideas, and provide context for  co-creation, possibility for instant sharing both experiences and information. Social Media applications can give new possibilities for efficient knowledge management, it can be fun and entertaining and can provide  new business possibilities.  Most applications are free and some were perceived easy to use.

During the discussion people were concerned with security & privacy and  excessive use of time. Finding relevant information, meaningful and value adding communities  and people can be challenging. Using many media channels can lead to information overflow and superficial use of  information.  Separation of professional & private life was one of the concerns and also , digital divide, how some people might not have possibility to participate. Difficulties with registrations, access, visiting various sites  and also technical problems ( firewall restrictions, etc.) could hinder use of social media.  In some organizations cultural discouragement –  perception that social media provides channels for entertainment, not for professional development, does not encourage people to explore possibilities.

Participants saw many possible uses of social media for professional development and learning . Finding ways that work best for you personally will require some experimentation – but it is well worth it. The world is changing and so are practices with learning and professional development.

  • In Twitter the 1st step is to find a professionally interesting person, start following her/him, and gradually experimenting
  • InYou Tube – look for content lectures / presentations
  • In Facebook – look for professional groups or start one of your own
  • In Ning – look for professional groups
  • In Linked In – participate in some professional groups

There are so silver bullets, or simple solutions – creating personal practices takes some effort, but luckily in social media you can find people who can help in your exploration.  Jump in, learn & enjoy !!

Recommended books:

  • Dan Tapscot & Anthony Williams (2006) Wikinomics
  • Barry Libert & Jon Spector (2007) We are Smarter than Me

In Finnish:

  • Tuija Aalto (2009) Nettielämää – Sosiaalisen median maailmat.
  • Leenamaija Otala & kaija Pöysti ( 2008) Wikimaniaa yrityksiin – Yritys 2.0 Tuottamaan.
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Have been looking into & trying out some interesting applications:

  • Moozement – social training log  – recording basic info exercise with the friends – creating social support  &  pressure
  • Kiva –  micro lending community, where we have established a group with friends, offers possibility to directly support entrepreneurs in emerging countries
  • Thinglink – social application for design enthusiasts and rafters

Today my friend Kaisa referred me to an interesting blog post – related to changes in consumption and social media –  “Conspicuous, but not Consuming” – by Stephen Linaweaver, Brad Bate and Michael Keating. – how Facebook is more environmentally sustainable than solar panels.

Social media offers possibilities for us  to change how we communicate, interact with friends and strangers.  Social media  also can have an effect on  how we live, support others and what and how much we consume.

There are new applications emerging constantly – and existing ones are improving. Users and developers are invited to participate in creation, contibute with ideas and feedback. Active user and developer communities are important  for the continuous development. This can also become one form of self-actualization – instead of or in addition to consuming, we become co-creators and members.

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Midsummer is extremely important time for celebration for Finns. People flock into summer cottages and celebrate the long, light summer nights. No matter what is the weather, people leave the cities and head towards lake side cottages, festivals, camping sites – being close to lakes & nature, seems to be essential.

For nearly 20 years, we have spent Midsummer time  by Takajärvi, ” the Lake Taka”, by the summer cottage of my in laws, who have kindly offered a place for a crowd of  “Midsummer Orphans”.

This year the cottage become ours, and tradition continued.  And about 20 adults and 15 kids celebrated the summer again together. It was exceptionally rainy and cold – somehow it did not seem to matter, it was nice to be back to Takajärvi with friends. Some of our children have spend all their Midsummers here, with the “Midsummer Family”.

This year people shared their feelings also via Facebook statuses & discussions – and with Twitter, and with pictures in Flickr …

Merja … “observes nature’s cycles: the second generation of the Midsummer Family sits at the lakeside playing guitar. Suddenly we have a gang of teenagers instead of children.”  “… enjoys life …”

Kaisa … “ +10c and rain; several really new, fun-related innovations done. “

We were talking about social media, laughing to ourselves sitting next to each other, and posting comments on Facebook.  Social media enables us to stay connected also other times. Some are more active than others.  And we have been using social media for practicalities as well …  invitations are sent by -e-mail, including a link to Doodle – where we can see when people will arrive and leave. This year Rita co-ordinated responsibilities for various meals.  In 2007  we were using Kotikokki – for sharing menu & recipes.

This year my friend Kristiina was arranging at the same time “Midsummer Festival Simulation Party” in winter weather at Pretoria, South-Africa, which was far warmer than we had.  And we were also exchanging ideas how to simulate  Finnish midsummer into other side of the world…

Together we try out new things, share experiences and learn and enjoy life.   It is all about meaningful connections among people…  Even I enjoy experimenting with social media – I am also  already looking forward for the 20th Year Anniversary Midsummer Festivals by Takajärvi!

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About a month ago my friend Elina blogged about free hugs in Helsinki and I commented that I could have one too …   Elina called me in Sunday morning, she wanted to do something around Hugging Monday and asked if I was in. And of cause I was excited  … so here started the idea to arrange something similar, but a bit different  for people at work.

Both of us have had our share of ups and downs and we we decided that we really want to do something – to cheer up our selves and others as well.

Elina ordered & created  the Hugging Monday website, I created a Hugging Monday  fan club to Facebook, and ideation continued…   with messages in Facebook, e-mails, phone calls etc.etc…

We wanted to keep things small – to remind us and others – that small things can make a difference.

And today was the official first “Hugging Monday” –  due to Swine Influenza, we decided not  widely share real hugs. Instead we decided to cheer up our fellow workers with sharing printed aphorisms, about life & joy&change &hope, piloted a small scale coffee corner event with chocolate, and sent out messages via e-mail lists and super hugs via Super Poke in Facebook.

In return we got nice comments and replies, smiling faces – also real and virtual hugs.  And life feels a little bit better!

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In January I decided to start using Twitter (MinLii) …  My learning style is activist, so often I like to try out first, and them later to look in more details.

And now later has come.  I want to better understand how can microblogging, and micromessanging be used by global R&D teams, and what can be the possible benefits and possible dissapointments.

So first I checked our definitions from WikiPedia

  • “Micro-blogging is a form of multimedia blogging that allows users to send brief text updates or micromedia such as photos or audio clips and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user. These messages can be submitted by a variety of means, including text messaging, instant messaging, email, digital audio or the web.
  • Micromessaging was not there yet – however people seem to use it alot.

And I realized that I have been micro-blogging with Facebook – for quite some time, used instant messging, and text messages for ages.  It seems to be that people take new communication practices in use – without knowing their definitions.  Well we live and learn.

Then I decided to use Twitter Search for finding related articles, blog posts etc. – and that was very successful, got some good, practical examples. All links are collected to my Delicious site – with tag microblogging .

So how could microblogging be used and help global R&D teams?

You would have to decide weather to use microblogging  application in-side your company firewall for your internal R&D team only, or would be benefial and possible to use open  microblogging system.

Here are commonly used examples for possible benefits of microblogging – applied in R&D context:

Emergency Broadcast System: – Messages of crucial errors & fast tracking of existing possible solutions & knowledgeable experts.  Active scouting among experts.

Knowledge Management: Sharing lessons learned & experiences among interested people – in serendipitous way.  Even if there are no problems/issues people can recommend each other examples, offer information, connections. With microblogging R&D people can combine their talent and tacit knowledge.

Training: Microblogging can help new team members to learn, offer communication channel for coaching, provide information of interesting new articles, research results etc.

Expert Identification: Microblogging can help to find experts and enables them to share their expertise. If they are willing to do so. Via microblogging existing solutions are not only shared the one that asks the question – it can quickly spread to wider user group. It also enables peer -review on the fly – if other team members are active. The messages can also be used and searched after wards. Using tags or other identifiers  (e.g. # in Twitter) can help.

Inclusion of External Stakeholders: in case of  working in open context, microblogging with external application can help work with external stakeholders. Widening your search globally.

This all would depend if  R&D people are  working as a global team, or are they rather isolated individuals focusing on certain detail aspect- who do not really benefit from sharing, but from being able to concentrate, think and work by themselves.

Microblogging can also be disturbing – the team would need to agree about basic principles for using  microblogging. If only few persons are willing to share & participate – the benefits will not be accomplished, social media tools need a group of active people to participate in order to work. Would R&D team members be willing to change they communication practices?

There are different kind of possible benefits for new, recently hired people, more experienced people, people with wide contact networks etc. etc.  Networking skills & positive attitude for knowledge sharing can help. However, the team itself will create the practices and see the benefits as well. How  could microblogging system to created in such way – that information would flow freely, create natural patterns?  The patterns in the ice are frozen… like information in databases. Microblogging systems are more dynamic – like waves…  Interesting theme – that seems come up again and again…

Have to think more about this…  I would like to develop a short, practical guide for R&D teams, how to set up a successful microblogging activites. Perhaps with a short reality check of their working context, then easy step-by-step instructions how to start, quickly and example of agreed ways of working, that could be modified… a sanity check after a while – does it work, or not, or what  …    and try it all this out with some global teams.

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Amazingly nice weather over last weekend. We went skating to Lake Bodom, in north Espoo, and the ice was so smooth and clear, that you could see trough it, and the reflections were so clear.  There were quite a few people, yet plenty of space for all.

The nature offered also artistic experiences – small, delightful ice
sculptures,  tiny dog & bird figures and bubbles, captured in the ice. Days like this – I remember why I love winter time, and actually the differences allow us appreciate & enjoy more each season.

In the area there is Oittaa Centre, where you can rent skates, and skiing equipment, and if you dare – have a swim in the icy water. Below is winter swimming area – very cool and very refreshing, sauna facilities and restaurant area are very nice.

Things will be rather hectic during this spring. However, as a new year resolution, I will try to find also time capture some special moments and thoughts in my blog.

This is the first blog post to this with the new computer Dell Latitude XT Touch  Tablet PC , the user experience is just wonderful.  After 6 years of using IBM Think Pad, I wanted to try out something totally new.  Still learning some things of touch UI and Vista … will take some time to get the best out of this new set up.  But now it seems, I would not like to go back to traditional laptop…  Yet it is  a bit annoying that I have  boot the thing rather often, but so far benefits have been exceeding the problems. Tablet is really great for  Social Media.

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The environment can change so quickly – one day we had over 1/2 meter snow – and everything was changed. From the darkness to magical winter wonderland…

… and them after few days nearly all had melted, back to darkness, rain and slush.

So in the middle of this dark season – my old computer decided to retire, and demonstrated some serious signs and it was getting slower, and slower. Since warranty period was long gone, I got to order new computer. And now I’m so happy with my new computer. It is Dell Latitude XT Tablet PC – and it is so delightful and fun. But getting all things organized, it just takes time. Also learning new things related to Vista and Touch and pen UI  is experimental fun, yet time consuming.  This  is mostly exciting, but also frustrating at times.

One thing I noticed that really missed only after a couple of days, was my personalized Flock – browser. It makes web experience so much better, faster and more fun. And writing blogs easier …

At the same time when changing computers, I decided to improve some ways of working:  my personal information management practices, I promised myself to learn to use some new applications, and I’m even planning for some new years resolutions – trying out something new every day / week…  some many interesting things in social media, and so little time – lets see, how this will evolve.

This transfer period from old computer to new one seems to slow things down, maybe it is also good at this time of the year, when nature is slowing down as well.  There has been more time to think 🙂

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