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Catherine Dartnall H818 Conference Presentation - From 'Why should I?' to 'How could I?'. Innovating learning in the workplace through the implementation of open practice.

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Conference Presentation text transcript (planned)


Slide 1:  From ‘Why Should I’? To ‘How Could I?’ Innovating learning in the workplace through the implementation of open practice. Catherine Dartnall, OU H818 Online Conference 9th February 2015 @CatDartnall

Hi everyone, my name is Catherine Dartnall and I’m an independent consultant working in workplace learning.

I started H818 with the aim of developing a multimedia artefact that would help me to generate discussion around the area of innovating learning in the workplace primarily to help organisations wanting to move from a traditional classroom based approach.  

Slide 2:  And so the journey  begins.

This has become much more of a personal journey for me than I first anticipated at the start of H818 . The phrase ‘where life mirrors art’ springs to mind as the development of this project has become entwined in all aspects of my current work projects and my approach to both online and offline networking.

In fact I do believe that H818 is the module where we don’t just ‘talk the talk’ but we also ‘walk the walk’.

Slide 3: The Organisation.

The project has four distinct areas.  The first being the organisation itself.

My project and I, visited Learning Technologies exhibition last month at London Olympia and we attended many seminars where organisations and consultants shared their stories of moving from training towards a culture of learning.

This included anecdotal ‘horror stories’ of management viewing learning logs and exclaiming that those at the top of the list ‘must have too much time on their hands’. On the flip side others shared stories of giving employees access to a wide range of learning materials and encouraging them to use these to develop new skills to move into new roles in the organisation as part of a talent management and staff retention program.

Slide 4:  Culture and Job Design (Foss et al, 2009).

Job design pays a large part and needs to allow for autonomy which in turn helps to increase motivation.

Just last week I identified that I am in fact a ‘serial organisational networker’.  In my role as a consultant I have a lot of autonomy and also many opportunities to meet employees from across all business functions.  I have received many comments over the years along the lines of that after a couple of weeks on a project I know more about the people that work there and their interests and skills than many internal colleagues do after working there for years! 

Slide 5: A Job for Life? The Social Contract. (Stodd, 2014).

The phrase ‘I’m working on a project…’ became one of my favourite conversation starters at Learning Technologies where it was quite liberating to have a focus for my discussions and people seemed to be genuinely interested in chatting further (or they may just have been being polite ;) )

At Learning Technologies I jumped at the opportunity to be part of an hour long small group discussion with Julian Stodd, author of The Social Leadership Handbook – and yes, you’ve guessed it, my project came too…

Listening to Julian talk was a ‘breath of fresh air’ and I realised that there were many similarities in the way that I have been working mainly in a freelance contract capacity for the last 20 years and the way that organisations and employees will need to approach the way that they work moving forwards.

No longer do we have ‘a job for life’ with a carriage clock at the end of our service and organisations and employees need to be behave in a more agile manner.  I think that if employees realised that ‘job security’ is perhaps more of a perception than a reality then they may be more inclined to take their future into their own hands, ensuring that they have a social community to support them in their move between multiple job roles.

Ultimately, this is a ‘win-win’ situation for an organisation as they not only get the benefit of the skills of an employee but also the skills and knowledge of the communities that they operate within.

So, thanks go to Julian Stodd who kindly gave me a copy of his book – this may however be due to the fact that I had so many questions that I really needed to go away and read it!

Slide 6:  What Motivates You?  (Herzberg, 1968).

Now, what motivates you?  We are all different.  This is the second focal point of the artefact.

I explored three types of motivation – intrinsic, extrinsic and introjection (Deci & Ryan, 1985).

Intrinsic motivation is linked to ‘autonomy’ within a role with the ability to perform tasks in a way which the individual finds enjoyable and that aligns to their personal values.

Extrinsic motivation is linked to ‘feedback’ such as bonuses or external praise – the classic example being ‘The Carrot and Stick’ approach (Herzberg, 1968) which is renowned for being an unsuccessful long term strategy.

And Introjection is where an individual adopts the values of the organisation resulting in these internalised values having a similar effect to intrinsic personal values.

Slide 7:  Motivation comes with Autonomy, Purpose, Mastery.

I know that I recognise my own motivating factors here as I always feel a strong need to have a sense of purpose and enjoy my autonomy and ability to progress towards achieving goals.

Slide 8:  Flow – Get in ‘The Zone’. (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).

I often describe that I have ‘a love of learning’ when on closer inspection this may actually be a ‘love of flow’.  Flow is the optimum state we experience when we have a balance between stress and achievement – it’s that fabulous feeling when we are ‘in the zone’ and time simply flies while we are both engaged and absorbed in a task.

Slide 9:  ‘Goldilocks’ Tasks. (Pink, 2009).

Another serendipitous meeting that my project and I had was at a Learning and Development conference where I was invited to attend a sample workshop on motivation.  The presenter strongly recommended that I explore Dan Pink’s book ‘Drive’ (you can see I’m going to need to get a bigger book shelf or go digital before the end of this project…)

Pink talks about the concept of ‘Motivation 3.0’ where individuals within organisations are able to work on ‘Goldilocks Tasks’ – tasks that are not ‘too easy’ or ‘too hard’ but ‘just right’ thus enabling employees to access a state of flow.

Slide 10:  “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed.  The vision pulls you.” (Image Steve Jobs).

This is a sentiment that is echoed here.  If we can all find something in our work that ties in with our personal values and we are able to approach this work with autonomy this provides us with the necessary intrinsic motivation we need to drive forwards.

Slide 11:  From Push to Pull. (Brown and Hagel, 2005).

This again links to Brown & Hagel’s ‘From Push to Pull’.  Sometimes training is approached in a ‘sheep dip’ fashion with individuals ‘passing through’ courses and often coming out the other end with very little learning having taken place.  The move from ‘pushing’ information to employees towards generating a desire within employees to ‘pull’ information and be in control of their learning takes a self-directed approach.

Slide 12:  Sharing Tacit versus Explicit Knowledge – Show Your Work (Bozarth (2014).

This takes us to the 3rd element of the project – Knowledge.

Not all knowledge that needs to be shared is the same and therefore needs to be shared in different ways. And so I bought another book….  Jane Bozarth talks in a very practical way about the challenges of sharing tacit knowledge. 

In Show your Work, Bozarth discusses the use of annotation to explain the intricacies of tasks.  Some examples of sharing tacit knowledge also bought to mind Yishay Mor’s Design Narrative approach where the ‘big picture’ is explained together with lessons learnt along the way and suggestions for amendment.

Slide 13:  Working out Loud Circles – Working Out Loud (Stepper, 2015) Blog/Book.

John Stepper introduces the concept of ‘Working out Loud Circles’ and how these can be introduced into organisations to enable individuals to learn to work and share in a collaborative way.

The draft outline of this project and the submission of TMA01 coincided with John Stepper holding a ‘Working out Loud week’.  After submitting TMA01, I tweeted my mind map incorporating some references using the ‘Working out Loud Week’ hashtag.  In true open practice, or ‘Working out Loud’, style this was picked up by Stepper which has since led to both Twitter and email exchanges. 

I have already introduced this concept into a work project and propose to experiment further by setting up my own open Working Out Loud Circle to see if this can help me to develop some personal work goals too.

Thanks again go to John Stepper for emailing a copy of his book which is expected to be launched in April.  My own experience of being open to date has brought many nice surprises and a generosity of spirit that I didn’t fully anticipate.

Slide 14:  What’s Stopping You?

So far we’ve explored the Organisation, Motivation and Knowledge so what’s stopping us now?

Slide 15:  Choose your Tools.

Part 4, Tools.  This was the part of the project that I always knew had the potential to de-rail it.  So many tools and so little time.

This chaotic workshop is a pretty accurate representation of how I felt about my office during my quest to discover which tools would best fit the purpose.

First stop, free products.  But are they really free?  Licensing is very different for educational purposes compared to the requirements of a business or a consultant.  I needed a licence that would allow me to create content for third-parties on a commercial basis.  Bye bye, free versions in many cases.  This commercial use also applies to my use of images and music.

I also felt that the tools that I used should be seamless and allow me to create an artefact that was sufficiently polished in presentation but was still an authentic representation of my work.

Slide 16:  Universal Design for Learning (Chrissie Butler’s Passonable Blog, 2015).

Accessibility was also an essential factor in choosing the right tools for the job.  Many tools rely heavily on visuals, or audio with limited options to be inclusive.

The very tool which I began the project not wanting to use had many of the features that I was looking for right in front of me.  PowerPoint - with built-in options for using captions, alt-text and screen readers also being able to access the notes area.

I wanted the artefact to be non-linear in its design, accessible and to be supported on multiple devices.  Again, at Learning Technologies, I spoke with Adobe about my project and also chatted to some e-learning designers and found that as Adobe Presenter 10 enabled me to use PowerPoint in the background this would really help with the learning curve.  It also met the requirements of my brief.  Result.

This experience is something that I will take with me into my future workshops in this area to generate awareness that many resources that are created have the potential to exclude participants by the nature of their design.

Slide 17:  Draft front screen view of project artefact.

So, thanks to everyone’s help both inside and outside of H818, this is it, the first draft screen from Adobe Presenter of my multi-media artefact which is still very much a work in progress.  The images represent the four areas of my project:





My proposal is that behind each one of these areas will be a menu linking to a variety of resources that expand upon my research into this area. 

I am currently working on a website that will be a professional portfolio and when this artefact is in a fit state to be displayed publicly then this will be it’s home.

So what next?   The way that this project is expanding, I’m sure that before long I will be working on the screenplay for ‘H818 – The Movie’.  So, if anyone has any preferences as to which famous Hollywood Star will play them in the big screen version, please get in touch :)