The School for Health and Care Radicals’s live broadcasts traditionally take place in the New Year, a time for change and self-improvement. Unfortunately this coincides with a period of high demand on services, with many teams operating at full capacity and staff time for education limited. Here I will argue why participating in event-based education is time well spent.
Time-bound, mass-participation educational events within an organisation can rapidly weave learning into the rituals, roles and symbols that constitute its culture (Sharples et al, 2014). The SHCR goes beyond organisational boundaries, however, by bringing geographically-dispersed learners come together to with shared purpose. The School has also skilfully incorporated social media into its learning design to create “knowledge networks” centred on participation and collaboration (Leaver, 2012).
In the SHCR, participants contemporaneously report, share and create understanding using social media and in-presentation chat. This generates an awareness of authentic, live issues – or as O’Reilley and Batelle (2009, p.9) put it- a “real-time indication of what is in the collective mind”. To understand this buzz, often seen nowadays in citizen journalism we need to discuss push-pull communication (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2011). Twitter, for example, automatically “pushes” tweets to followers, who may choose in turn to push onwards to their followers (“re-tweeting”), in an exponential fashion. When the reader wants to discover more about the subject, they “pull” information, say from a link in the original post or search engine. No other medium can spread the word quite so efficiently.
As we push and pull our understandings within the SHCR community, we are also creating networks that continue beyond the learning event itself (Sharples et al, 2014). The more open the social media, the more diverse this network becomes and so our learning opportunities increase and broaden (I hope to come back to this in a future post). The players in these networks can confirm your experiences and reduce any sense of isolation. They can answer a cry for help or provide a different perspective. They may make you question your assumptions, go back to the beginning and start all over again. Or can simply make you smile.
Every Friday @Jim_Rawson_MD sends me and other like-minded change agents a tweet. This is more than a social nicety. It reminds me that out there are people who I can learn from and with. People who, like Jim, may answer a call for help (as indeed he did when I found myself in a particular dilemma). Through the SHCR I have met and learnt from so many people without having to travel much further than my office. Yes I had to commit time that I didn’t really have in the beginning, but this is an investment that continues to pay its returns.
Kaplan, A.M, Haenlein, M. (2011) ‘The early bird catches the news: Nine things you should know about micro-blogging’ Business Horizons vol 54, pp 105-113.
Leaver, T. (2012) ‘Twittering informal learning and student engagement in first-year units’ in Herrington, A., Schrape, J. and Singh, K (eds.), Engaging students with learning technologies. Perth, Australia: Curtin University [Online]. Available at http://espace.library.curtin.edu.au/cgi-bin/espace.pdf?file=/2012/09/28/file_1/187379 (accessed 12 August 2016).
O’Reilly, T. and Battelle, J. (2009) Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On [Online]. Available at http://www.web2summit.com/web2009/public/schedule/detail/10194 (accessed 12 August 2016).
Sharples, M., Adams, A., Ferguson, R., Gaved, M., McAndrew, P., Rienties, B., Weller, M. and Whitelock, D. (2014) Innovating Pedagogy 2014: Open University Innovation Report 3, Milton Keynes: The Open University [Online]. Available at http://www.open.ac.uk/iet/main/sites/www.open.ac.uk.iet.main/files/files/ecms/web-content/Innovating_Pedagogy_2014.pdf (accessed 12 August 2016).