Posted by: Gillian | November 18, 2009

Smoking computers, we’re all learning now!

If computers could have indigestion, mine did.  And like a kid at a birthday party, it still wanted more.  LearnTrends is only one day through a three-day conference (so time to join in!) and I’ve never before used so many programs simultaneously but this was no geek-fest.  It was adults, learning and having fun; proving that work-based and personal development, social and individual learning continue from 20 to, well, decidedly ‘senior’.  No-one had all the answers and anyone could participate in one part or many, using one tool or many, just listening or trying everything.  Being me, I was trying everything and the computer knew about it; so did my brain so now I am trying the advice from Harold Jarche‘s session on PKM (personal knowledge management) to try and process it all and maybe pass on some ideas at the same time.

First, maybe a word about why the computer was smoking – and there’s no need for yours to do the same!  The conference was being run in Elluminate with whiteboard, chat, emoticons, audio, microphones for participants and powerpoint – and there were so many participants the original 150 seats allowed were increased.  I was running Twitter from Tweetdeck so started using that to alert people I had expected to see in the conference that extra spaces were being added.  In a quieter part of a session, it seemed sensible to try and see how GoogleWave held up. Then I needed to save a link to Eduardo Peirano‘s booklist so Delicious needed to be fired up while a message came in on Skype (fortunately not a voice call) and I remembered I needed to send something to someone on LinkedIn.  I had no idea if the computer, or I, would cope but we both lived to tell the tale and that’s where personal knowledge management comes in.

Jarche’s model says you first sort information, then categorise it before making it explicit so that you can later retrieve it.  For me, the sorting and categorising may not be perfect but at least I am used to doing it and I’ve got used to the idea that it is an art more than a science.  It was good to see so many other people also struggling with the art as the Twitter stream shows just how many people have gone off to ‘digest’ or ‘contemplate’.  The making explicit part of the model is where I am really experimenting.  I usually prefer to think things through a bit more before blogging but the theory that modern life and information overload requires learning through  social networking means learning is never quite ‘cooked’ or complete.  Again, the Twitter stream shows others are further down this road than I  and were already chasing off to write blogs or draw mindmaps. So, what else did I take away from that first day of participating in LearnTrends?

Two things really struck me as the computer struggled away:

  1. GoogleWave may be in prototype but it really is going to be a great help for individuals to organise work-based, academic and personal learning moving and copying relevant chunks of ‘stuff’ (text, pictures, sound) from one place to another as required and involving different groups of people for different purposes
  2. In one way or another, most attendees, presenters and moderators demonstrated that while they were in a conference they were also learning about learning technologies and were not afraid to say so.  Adult returners and nervous students, take note!




  1. Harold’s PKM was very interesting but I’d hoped to learn something about evernote which I’ve been hearing about. Will need to look into that myself…

    • I tried evernote one day and promptly lost it again (been having computer problems) so I’ll try it as well. If you are on the Wave, do find me if you have time and let’s see if we can make some sense of this multimedia filing-connecting-learning we are all doing.

  2. Another way I mentioned of “making explicit” was collating my weekly twitter finds. It’s a bit of extra work, but I find it valuable.

    As I mentioned to cynan_sez, evernote looks like it has potential, but I just haven’t tried it out yet. So many tools, so little time 😉

    • Thanks, Harold – should have said.

What are your views on this?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: