A New Use for Wordle

I remember when I first saw a Wordle.  I thought it was not only the coolest thing I’d ever seen, but I wanted to find a way to use it-somewhere.  Bringing creativity to the world of education is not only a way to continue to breathe life into your own material (which in turn can also help to keep it relevant), but it is also a way to find an abundance of opportunities to connect with your audience.  How often has someone shown you something and it stuck with you primarily because when you first saw it you thought…that was so cool!!

So with all of that said, imagine my excitement as I clicked on the ‘additional resources’ link today and realized that a Wordle could also be used as a social bookmarking tool.  I love that you can paste the entire article into the little box and you suddenly have a cool way to find prominent themes in the text.  And by choosing to share it with the world, you can then create an individualized url that allows you to save it to a bookmarking site.  This url could then be used for other internet based resources to house everything in one place.  Perhaps an extra step for some, but what a fun and eye-catching way to create a sort of abstract that you can use to quickly go back and find what could be useful-depending on your needs!

Wish you had a visual?  Check out this link of the one I created for one of our articles this week: http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/8183819/Wordle_as_a_social_bookmark

So fun!


Wavering in the World of Twitter

“Someone new is following me” I said aloud to my husband as I noted the update on my Twitter app.  “What?!” he responded, looking around alarmed.

I giggled in that moment before explaining what I meant, but then thought back on it as I read the article this week, 7 Things You Should Know About Twitter, that began with a note about Edward.  I related to this depiction of uncertainty that ended with appreciation, for I too am finding myself wavering between these two feelings.  Depending on the network that you find yourself among, you can leave enlightened and educated in lines limited to 140 characters or less.  Conversations can take place across miles and cultures, ones that may never occur in a normal setting.  And yet there is some scariness that I associate with being “followed” by people that I don’t know and, if nothing else, realizing that whatever I tweet is out there for everyone to see.

I also consider another article we read this week, Tweeting in Class, and think back to the conversations that we had in our own classroom.  The conversation was open and lively, but I wonder if any of us had more to say?  If not in that instance, have you in others?  Perhaps the use of this tool is not one that we feel comfortable with in idle chatter, but what if it was a tool used to participate in discussion?  A discussion in an undergrad classroom that held 50 students or perhaps even more?  How often as an undergrad did you not raise your hand or express your opinion simply because time would not allow for us to all do so?  Or was it even due to the feeling of uncertainty in your question or statement and how it may or may not be received?  But is it for this reason that some of us would still shy away from the use of this tool…..

I can’t say I’m totally convinced as to where I stand when it comes to the world of Twitter.  What I will say however is that there are possibilities that it may hold in opening up conversations that my not otherwise take place.  And in education, that is definately saying something.  Who knows where the next 140 character ah-ha may lead us?

“What Taylor did for the work of the hand, Google is doing for the work of the mind.”

When I first discovered the idea of Taylorism in HRD Management last semester, I was astounded at how often we may find the principles still at work today.  While images of a stopwatch and a harried worker may be the first thing that comes to mind for those that are familiar, think sincerely of your own workplace and whether or not a more modern version of that same picture may very well still be at play.  Now, take it a step further and apply that same framework to the internet and how we read and process information in today’s world.  Does this statement hold some truth?

I believe that Nicholas Carr, albeit that he pointed this out in his article Is Google Making Us Stupid in 2008, may have truly been on to something.  As quipped by the author in the article when referencing a conversation with an acquaintance, many minds are finding that they are beginning to think in a sort of “staccato” quality.  We scan information, stopping mid-way through to check email as it dings to alert its incoming.  We then return to that information, only to stop a few moments later again to ‘google’ a word and its meaning.  In class we crave interaction and may struggle to sit still long enough to read a lengthy passage or text.

It’s this sort of scattered thought or processing of information that Carr believes has come from our increased use (dependence?) on technology, or more specifically, the internet.  But it causes me to ponder whether or not this change in the taking in of information has also affected the way that we learn as well.  Our methodologies have changed due to technology’s influence, we now incorporate blogging and various methods into our learning assignments in class (as we do and are studying in 641!).  But is this more effective overall (collaboratively, cognitively, expansively)?  Or simply more effective as a result of the change in the way that our mind takes in information?

Shall I Trial It?

I was so excited about the various tools and their potential on Wednesday in class.  The timeline was perhaps my favorite as my imagination began to visualize the possibilities for reflection.  I began to think about my own reflection that will be coming due soon enough…as I round the corner to the end of my graduate studies (or is it???:), the need for a final reflection is also looming.  I wonder if in addition to the digital story, I may also use the timeline feature that we discussed in class.  How perfect that would be for the visual piece of the story as I think through and present my own progression over the last several years.  And as I think of this one possibility, I can’t help  but think about what other opportunities could be found within these tools we are discovering.  The world of education is truly evolving, and the possibilities for self expression to further a students’ understanding, retention, learning…is truly becoming just a mouse click away.

Can PLNs Lead to Greater Learning?

In thinking about the readings for week 1 and the idea gleaned from the article Learning Networks in Practice by Stephen Downes, I can’t help but appreciate the notion that PLNs are creating an environment where students are no longer encouraged to stay on topic or, in a way, to stay within the lines.  This new method of learning, whether used in adjunct or primarily, can provide the opportunity to open up possibilities for individualized learning that can equal greater retention and interest overall.   While structure may be the hardest thing to create in these learning avenues, the possibilities to provide such a vast way of meeting the learner’s desires is intriguing to say the least.  I’d love others thoughts on this, as online learning and LMS systems were not a strength at my previous employer and my inexperienced mind is just beginning to open up.



Connected Learning

Admittedly, I have been overly excited about this class this semester due to my knowledge opportunities when it comes to the internet and learning. As I’ve gone through the program here at VCU, I have truly come face-to-face with the possibilities that are out there – as well as how much I can use myself. This discovery has led to a revised passion to not only understand what helps adults learn, but to also discover the various ways to get them there. The video that we watched on the Networked Student was a perfect representation of where I’m finding myself and my realizations as I continue to propel forward. There are a variety of ways that students, young and adult, can learn in today’s society. And, as those standing at the front of today and tomorrow’s classrooms, we must realize that we are no longer there to know and provide all of the answers. We are instead there to help guide them on ways to find and understand the quality information that they seek, using methods that will prove most meaningful, useful and helpful to them.

A Revised Understanding

As I contemplate the close of the semester, and consider the questions found within our syllabus, I think back to where I was in the beginning and my understanding then of what fit under the Human Resources umbrella. I recall a group activity early on where we discussed the roles found within HR and where Organizational Development fit; an alignment theory I wasn’t completely grasping for I saw it as a direct link to the organization itself with little connection to HR. I reflect now on that stance and wonder if it is a result of being viewed as such a separate department from that of HR within my own organization. We are in fact in different buildings, with different department goals and little direct connection other than the reporting structure. I often wondered why we shared different Directors but the same VP, as they all seemed to do their ‘own thing’ and we did ours.

But now, as I sit, write, and reflect I am humbled by the wholeness of my revised understanding provided by the journey through this class. I think back to the discussions surrounding Scientific Management and Taylorism, the Theories of X and Y with thanks to McGregor, and even the realization that Leonard Nadler from George Washington University may have been a significant influence regarding the popularity of just using the term Human Resource Development-but not until 1969. (Swanson, et. al., 2009)

And while the history of it all is much broader in facts on a time line and key players that deserve a nod, I must admit that this was the point that I was the least engaged. History has never been a strong suit for me, nor a true interest unless the connection is made upfront as to why I should deem it important. But I smile to myself now as I realize that the impact that the manufacturing industry had on what I even do today is more than likely still at play. I marvel at just how young our industry really is in defining what it can do and/or bring to an organization. And with that I wonder what that could mean for the future of HRD as it continues to evolve and prove its relevance at the strategic table of the executives in our industries.

I think about the executive table at my own organization and consider the interview that I was honored to conduct of my VP of Human Resources. I remember the conversation fondly and how I actually found myself counting the word ‘relevance’ as I compiled the results to write my paper. Perhaps this was the most impactful moment for me, as I saw, in the rawest form, how almost all of what we had discussed thus far came crashing into the reality of what I knew in my own world. Perhaps this is the reason that I felt in that moment I may have done my best work of the semester as things suddenly began to make a lot more sense, and I suddenly felt like I saw things with a much clearer lens. With this lens things within my own organization were not only clearer, but also the topics that we were discussing in class. And while I would be remiss not to admit that it may have had something to do with the topics beginning to move away from a more historical focus, I would also not be truthful if I didn’t admit that what we’d absorbed up to that point began to make a lot more sense.

So as I pull together the final thoughts of my reflection, I consider that moment with my laptop as I typed out my paper for the HRD interview with the VP of HR. I think back to this moment; not because the other moments were not impactful, not because my group project wasn’t fun and engaging, not because the Theories of X and Y did not provide me with a differing view of why some members of management may choose to motivate the way that they do. I choose this moment in the semester because it was my best work. It was my best because it was the moment for me that things took on a greater amount of clarity and truly provided a picture for what the concepts looked like in real life. Not real life in someone else’s world, but real life in my own day-to-day.

I was able to apply the concepts to my own voice as I wrote, instead of attempting to relate what I’d been reading with something that might fit. It was my best because in that moment I realized that I also needed to find the strength to begin to ask more questions when things do not seem as clear. As I typed through my reflections I realized that in order to be successful I must always strive to understand with as much truth as possible what is going on in the environment around me, strategically and otherwise, in order to truly understand how I can best support my organization through my own work. For it is then that you will find meaning in what you do, and as result, your best work is always sure to follow.

But I also wonder as I close, if this is something that I should also strive to empower others to do as well as an HRD professional. When we look upon things that have such an impact on our own lives with such a clouded lens, we tend to take away too foggy of a view of reality. But when we find the strength (and the proper framework) to ask the right questions, it is then that we become our most confident selves-especially at work.

“Understanding how individuals around the world construct the meaning of their work is of central importance for HRD professionals. The relationship between meaningful work and organizational productivity was first demonstrated by the Hawthorne experiments in the 1920s (Roethlisberger and Dickson, 1939). This theme can be further traced through the emergence of the sociotechnical systems design in the early 1950s (Trist, 1960), Herzberg’s (1966) early research on motivation to work, and the human potential movement of the 1980s (Kirschenbaum and Henderson, 1989).” (Swanson, et. al., 2009, p. 425-426)