Hard to believe another year has come and gone. For the sake of “auld lang syne” then, here’s a quick accounting of my significant learning achievements in 2010. In no particular order…
I did a lot of reading, studying, and teaching on the broad topic of constructivism, and I have a better grasp on it now than ever before. There are many nuances to this rich and fascinating philosophy/theory, so I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say that I have constructed a perfect, complete understanding of the topic. But I do think constructivism best describes how we learn, and I’m beginning to really get a handle on what it means to “teach” with a constructivist point of view. Favorite book on the subject: Relational Being by Ken Gergen.
> Presentation Design
I had the pleasure of designing and delivering a number of webinars and live presentations on professional skill development topics this year, and I learned a lot about how to make that work. I’ve learned how to craft a motivational story or flow, and how to design great visuals and animations. I’m surely not perfect, but much better at this. It’s not just about getting the content and the activities right so that participants cognitively understand a message, it’s about building commitment and momentum for adoption of new practices so that people are inspired to do things that will allow them to be more successful. Isn’t that what we want at the end of the day? For the best tips and techniques, I recommend: Made to Stick and Switch, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, and Slideology and Resonate, by Nancy Duarte.
> SharePoint for Learning
My company is adopting SharePoint, and we’ve spent this year researching and imagining how to use it to support collaborative learning. Some folks might have you believe that all you need to do is make the technology available and get out of the way, and magic will happen. But I think there’s a lot more to it than that, and I’ve studied how people have designed sites and promoted participation. I have learned about important design decisions that need to be made while creating the site, and about techniques to keep the site active and fresh. We’re just launching our first forays in the new year, so we’ll see if we got a good start. I’m sure there’s much more we will learn along the way.
> Scholarly Practice
I worked on an article about SMART Practice, and that got me to more closely examine what we know about scholarly practice activities and competencies. It’s more than knowing the body of knowledge related to our work, it’s also about figuring out ways to stay current and to seek out and apply relevant research in day-to-day projects. I continue to believe that we are more impactful when we know the theory and research behind our practices, and figuring out how to support and promote scholarly practice is near and dear to my heart. I’m grateful for the companionship of folks on the Scholar-Practitioner Special Interest Group of AHRD, and I’m looking forward to more work on this in the coming year.
> Learning by Teaching
Teaching is absolutely the best learning strategy. I love, love, love teaching – the prep work helps me to solidify my understanding of the topics I teach (adult learning and instructional design), and my students challenge my thinking and inspire me to want to do more to support their growth. Because I teach about learning and instructional design, there’s an incredible synergy between learning more about what I teach and applying it to teach more effectively. I continue to learn about adult learning theory, constructivist techniques, instructional design, and design considerations specific to e-learning. Whether I’m delivering workshops in a corporate environment or teaching courses in a graduate school, teaching isn’t work to me; it’s my favorite way to learn.
> Spiritual Growth
I’ve certainly traveled a bit down a more spiritual path this year, inspired by our church’s 90-day Bible Challenge this summer, multiple Christian Enrichment activities around Biblical themes and messages, great preaching, interesting reading, and lots and lots of quiet time. I look forward to what’s around the bend for 2011.
I’ve learned as well that I really miss blogging. Taking a few hours to capture thoughts on what I’m learning and doing really helps me to process my actions, reflections, and readings. When things have gotten really busy – as they did this past fall, I’ve put aside blogging. But now I find myself wishing I had written more so that I could go back and look up my thoughts on a subject. They seem to get lost otherwise. I also learn a lot from reading other people’s blogs and following their Twitter feeds. So that’s one resolution for the new year. If you’ve enjoyed reading my various musings and sharing your comments in return, you’ll hear more from me in 2011.
Happy new year!