Sunday, June 21, 2009

Early Tweeting Experience

I reluctantly jumped on the Twitter bandwagon about 3 weeks ago and while I am experiencing a little information overload, it has been fantastic. I was reluctant to start using Twitter because of the amount of information I am already consuming through Google Reader and on LinkedIn. Although I am already taking in a lot of information I was looking for a better format for discussing this information with other corporate training professionals. Turns out that Twitter is a great format for discussions and I am also finding other benefits that I was not expecting.

Twitter is known as being great for engaging in discussions but I am also finding it works as a great filter for the overwhelming amount of information I am taking in through Google Reader. I spend a lot of time skimming through blog posts in my Reader and only read the posts that catch my attention. I have noticed that with Twitter people in your network help reduce the amount of skimming needed by posting links to the great posts they have already found. Because of this I am spending less time skimming through my Google Reader and more time on Twitter looking at links passed on from people I am following. It will be interesting to see how my time spent reading blogs from my Reader is affected by finding all the juicy information without the skimming on Twitter.

While Twitter is helping me find great information easier, the downside is that there is a constant stream of information flowing down my Twitter page. To deal with this I am using Tony Karrer's "Skim Dive Skim" approach. When I first started with social media I felt the need to read every post and RSS feed as if they were all an important email. In my short experience I have learned that you really shouldn't try to read everything and you'll get more from the experience if you scan through and find what is important to you. While skimming can be a dangerous habit I am finding that I am able to find a lot more valuable information and waste less time reading information that is not important to me.

Now that I am sold on the benefit of Twitter I am working on creating a larger following so that I can get even more value from the experience. It is obvious that by having a larger number of followers, it is easier to engage in discussion and create a larger network. But, it is also as important to have a quality following of professionals with common interests and challenges. I'm starting to get annoyed with the spammers who follow me in hopes that I will automatically follow them back and I am only following people when there is a potential for us to engage in conversation and learn from each other.

I'm looking forward to seeing the value of Twitter increase as I connect with a larger network of people. If you're on Twitter, let's follow each other. If you're not on Twitter, jump on the bandwagon because you're missing out. You can find me on Twitter @joe_deegan

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Manual Grading in eLearning

We all love multiple choice, true/false, matching or any kind of quiz questions that can be graded automatically by an LMS. We also know that these types of questions are not very effective but we keep on using them because they are easy to come up with and don't require manual grading. This leaves us with the dilemma of cutting corners and using auto graded questions or sucking it up and putting in the hard work to manually grade essay questions and assignments submitted to the LMS. I've decided to suck it up and sacrifice automatic grading for more effective assignments that will need to be graded manually. Now I have the challenge of coming up with a plan to manage the grading of these assignments for +1000 employees.

My plan of attack for managing the manual grading of these assignments is to have supervisors grade and provide feedback to their subordinates. This will take the load off of me and I believe learners will get more out of the experience because they will receive more valuable feedback from their supervisor rather than some guy they barely know(me). Sounds like a simple plan but now I have to put on my "Trainer" hat and train supervisors how to grade these assignments submitted through Moodle. Although this plan does still require work from me to train supervisors how to grade and provide feedback on the assignments through Moodle, I believe the benefit of learners receiving valuable feedback and coaching from their direct supervisor out weighs the work required to train supervisors and definitely beats grading them all myself.

I'm curious to hear how larger organizations handle the manual grading of assignments submitted through the LMS, or do large organizations avoid anything that needs to be manually graded? The +1000 employees that I am dealing with is small beans for a fortune 500 organization but they also have a lot more resources at their disposal.

At this point, I can't imagine handling the manual grading of assignments any other way than having supervisors take on the task but I am very curious to hear what other organizations are doing to handle this task. Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions of how to handle this challenge.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Jumping on the Twitter Bandwagon

Okay fine, I'll check out Twitter and see what everyone is talking about! Until now I have held out from jumping on the Twitter bandwagon because of the overwhelming amount of information I am already taking in through Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogging and my RSS feeds in Google Reader. However, it is all of these resources that are encouraging me to start using Twitter. The final tipping point is that my Summer school course, "Technologies for Teaching" covers Twitter and it looks like some class activities may take place using Twitter. So, I finally set up an account @joe_deegan.

I am hoping that Twitter provides what Facebook and LinkedIn do not, a running conversation with other professionals in the Training and Development industry. It's easy to get conversations going on Facebook, but I like many other people use Facebook for family and close friends who would be bored to death if I started tweeting about eLearning or corporate training in general. I use LinkedIn for professional networking but it is more difficult to get conversations started on LinkedIn. Most of my use of LinkedIn involves using discussion boards or starting email conversations with connections and very rarely do I receive responses to status updates. From all I hear about Twitter, it sounds like it is much more conducive to starting these "live" ongoing conversations about training and development.

So far, so good! It's a much quicker setup than Facebook or LinkedIn. I was impressed with all of the tweeters it pulled out of my Gmail account for me to start following. I am getting up to speed on Twitterisms with Michelle Martins blog post "Your guide to Job Search, and Personal Branding on Twitter." She has quite a few links to articles that will get me up to speed quick. One thing I am unsure of is whether I should "protect my updates?" I am thinking no so that I can be found in Google searches etc.

I'm excited to see what Twitter brings to the social networking table and I hope I get a lot out of it. If you are tweeting, help me get some conversations started by following me @joe_deegan.