Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

27 July 2010

Catching up…

Clark @ 12:46 PM

It’s been quite a while since I’ve blogged, and it’s not that there haven’t been learnings, it’s just that my dance card was too too full.  What with conferences, a week of radical fever, the mobile book manuscript coming due, and a week off in the woods, not to mention a full load of client work, it’s just been crazy here around the Quinnstitute.  I intend to get more organized, but let me toss off a c0uple of quick thoughts that may get elaborated more soon:


The eLearning Guild‘s mLearnCon event was fabulous (as their events always are).  It was small and intimate, but with a palpable sense of excitement.  As I’ve mentioned before, I really think mobile is poised to be a revolution that will fundamentally affect how we use technology to support organizational performance. The conference reinforced that viewpoint significantly, with capabilities being expanded seemingly daily.

The key affordances mean you have computational power to augment your ability to do wherever and whenever you are, and that’s a big win.  Being able to do Personal Knowledge Management at the time of inspiration or need, or even of convenience, is huge.  Having your social network on tap on demand really augments your ability to work more effectively.

In short, doing mobile right means you’re more capable than without, and that’s a clear opportunity.  How do you make yourself smarter with your mobile device?


The ongoing debates around social media for learning flummox me.  How can you not see that social augments formal learning (Jane Bozarth has a whole new book on the topic) as well as provides new opportunities for informal learning and performance support? Maybe you have to be ‘in it’ to get it, but then, get in it.

This is not to say that formal learning needs social learning, but rather that it supports it in many meaningful ways.  It’s also not to say it’s the only tool for meaningful performance support, but it’s a powerful one.  It’s certainly the necessary backbone for collaboration, inherently, but there’s also the somewhat ephemeral but valuable interpersonal contact, not just the information.

For example, Twitter has been a great source of information through the links people provide to interesting material, and in the ability to get questions answered. However, you can go further, as we have with #lrnchat.  There’re people I’ve met there that I’m eager to meet in person now that I know them on twitter, but even prior to that it’s valuable to have got to know them.

If you’re not already using chat (w/ or w/o video, e.g Skype), Twitter or equivalent, Facebook and/or LinkedIn, Google Docs, etc, you really do need to get that experience going to really understand the opportunities.

Business changes

It becomes ever clearer that the old way of doing business, even enlightened versions, are just not going to cut it.  The evidence mounts.  A compelling article I was pointed to today points out how and why incentives and management are contrary to optimal performance.  What the article doesn’t do, of course, is help you figure out how to make the switch.

In talking with my Internet Time Alliance colleagues, we see that you need to provide infrastructure, develop skills, modify culture, and scaffold transition.  This isn’t easy, but it’s doable.  The article cites a number of examples.  However, incrementalism doesn’t cut it, it takes a serious commitment to change.

It’s early days, but I reckon it’s time to get a jump on it. Those companies that have made the switch are seeing benefits, and I reckon that the increasing pressures will make it simply the only viable survival strategy.


I can speak first hand to the value of time away.  There is the conscious reflection, like the thoughts I want to solve that I key up before a shower or a jog, and then there’s just ‘off’ time to let things ferment on their own (I prefer fermentation to percolation or incubation since I like the outcome more).  And, if you do it right, there are side benefits.

Serendipitously, after putting the manuscript to bed for the mobile book, we were scheduled with some wilderness time. I’d booked two days of ‘meals only’ at Yosemite’s Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, and a night at Tuolomne Meadows Lodge two nights before.  My intention was to spend one night in the wilderness on the way to the HSC, giving the lad and lass their experience of actually having to pump water and cook your own food in the wilderness.  This is part of a strategy to get them into the wilderness experience with a maximum amount of experience and an appropriate amount of effort (previously we’d twice done the 1 mile hike into May Lake HSC for meals-only, with them carrying their clothes and our superlight down bags).

Despite a hiccup that turned serendipitous (we had to take a longer route in, but it turned out to be a much less mosquito-laden trail), we had a great time. The kids had to push through a mental barrier or two each at times, but both succeeded and commented on the view and the experience positively.  The Grand Canyon of the Tuolomne is truly a spectacular spot, and Waterwheel Falls turned out as stunning as I had recalled.

The nice thing for me was being completely off the grid for 4 days. While I had my iPhone (used the GPS function a couple of time), I couldn’t get a signal and check email or twitter.  I put work essentially out of my mind and focused on family.  I came back feeling quite refreshed!  Actually, it’s hard to get back into work, but that’s ok too, as I’ll get back in gradually.

The take-home, of course, is to take some time with those significant in your life and get away from work completely.  Recharge your batteries, reflect, and have some fun!  Here’s hoping you are getting some ‘me’ time this summer.

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