Multi-dimensional Learning for Grownups

January 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

When I start something new, especially when it comes to work, I read and research a lot and plug into some quality video training if it’s a new technical skill I’m working to acquire.  I’ve recently started a new job and while a lot of my experience as a development lead applies, there are new skills I need to learn (and I love this!) in order to do my job well.  Reading books and blogs plugs me into the wealth of experience that others have gained over the course of their careers.

Over the past few weeks, I have started reading some really awesome books, and I am learning so much that I can apply at work.  However, I have had a nagging feeling over the past few days that something big was missing…that there is a disconnect in what I’m reading and learning on my own, the depth of my understanding, and my ability to extract the insight and practices from these books and blogs and put them into practice. Yesterday, I figured it out although I’m struggling still to find the proper words to describe it.  Nevertheless, I’m going to try.

I love learning in a group setting.  I like hearing what other people have gleamed from the information that I may have missed.  I like when the experiences of others color their understanding and maybe they disagree with the author as a result.  If it is a coding technique or language I am learning, I like to whip up a demo (I’m a hands-on visual learner), stop someone in the hall, and say, “Hey, look at this!”.  If I’m lucky, that person will say something like, “Cool! Do you know about xyz?” and maybe offer a suggestion or alternative solution.  It’s discussion, feedback, collaboration, multi-dimensional learning.

Years ago, this is what drove what I like to refer to as my “social media experiment”.  Could I use social media, specifically Twitter, as a learning tool?  The result was a resounding yes, and it still is.  Sharing and discussing a blog post is easy.  Twitter is good for short responses and blog comments are good for longer ones. There are also a few apps that build on Twitter that enhance that experience, depending on your needs.  Sharing and discussing material in books is different.  I mostly read books using the Kindle app on my iPad now which has a sharing feature, but what about discussion and the multi-dimensional learning I mentioned a few sentences ago?  Writing about what I’m reading on my blog and eliciting conversation is one option, but it doesn’t replace the off-the-cuff responses you get from an in-person group study especially if it is professional in nature.  People are more guarded with how they respond and document their reactions and opinions online – as they should be.  This has been at the heart of my desire to go back to school for a master’s degree (along with an ordered curriculum), but I continue to question the timing and my options.

I experimented with building and maintaining a list of what I was reading and wanted to read on LinkedIn in hopes that someone I am connected with would be reading the same and want to talk about it.  Maybe I could even inspire people to read who weren’t!  That’s not been nearly as effective as I had hoped.  So, I’m going to try something else.  First, I’m going to try to write more about what I am reading, although I’ll be honest – this is more time consuming, and I question the degree to which I’ll follow through. After all, it cuts into my actual reading time.  I also have social media policies to adhere to.  Second, I’m listing the things I’m reading below in hopes to connect, discuss, inspire, grow, grow others… After this lengthy blog post, I think you get the idea!

Inspired: How to Create Products That Customers Love by Marty Cagan

Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management by Scott Berkun

The Process Myth (blog post along with others) from RandsInRepose

So, if you’re interested and want to connect, discuss, get multi-dimensional in your learning and really, really make things happen, let me know!  You know how to reach me 🙂

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