Book Review, mentor, mentoring, Professional Development

#BookReview: Mentoring Programs That Work

One of my research projects I am currently working focuses on professional mentoring, specifically mentoring experiences for professional learning and development offered by professional organizations/associations. Over the past couple of years, I have been fortunate to speak with a number of higher education professionals who have been part of a formal mentoring program, either as a mentor or a learner (a.k. a. mentee, protege, or leader). It has been great to learn about their how mentoring has met their professional development needs, helped to meet career goals, and navigated both personal/professional situations faced in the workplace.  As I finish a few more interviews, I hope to wrap up data collection/analysis to share findings/implications of mentoring experiences later this year — I promise. Part of this research design includes understanding how professional learning organizations/associations structure and administer mentoring programs for its membership. In speaking with mentoring participants and coordinators from a variety of mentoring programs that serve higher education professionals (Thank you: NACADA ELP, ACPAgrow, OACUHO, and NASPA Candid Conversations 365), I hope to offer insights and practical implications based on these mentoring experiences.

In my literature review, I stumbled upon, Mentoring Programs That Work by Jenn Labin, which was recently published by the Association for Talent Development. Based on my own thread of scholarship, I wanted to review and learn what suggestions this author had to provide based on her experiences in mentoring programs in a variety of industries.Although each mentoring program will have its own objectives and unique needs for participants, one constant component across all programs is the need to form connections to support an effective mentoring relationship. Mentoring relationships will be the cornerstone for skill development, personalized learning, and knowledge acquisition within any professional domain. Unlike typical educational training programs or professional development/learning, mentoring programs are more uniquely tailored for talent development needs. That being said, I am not sure we put the time or effort into preparing mentors and learners who enter this type of learning and development program.  I agree with Labin’s sentiments: “Mentoring programs are important.” Mentoring is an individual, learner-driven experience where proteges work with mentors to create a learner-focused solution. Mentors can support learners to acquire a specific knowledge domain, scaffold professional work situations, and develop tacit skills required to advance in their career field. Labin (2017) believes most mentoring programs fail if their goals are not aligned to talent/professional needs, inability to scale and sustain initiatives, and/or as a result of little stakeholders involvement or championship. I am sharing this brief overview of this book, as I think it has practical solutions for managers or program coordinators who want to develop (or improve) a successful mentoring program, while also supporting the mentoring experience and empowering mentors with tools they will need for this type of professional learning.

This book presents practical ideas and examples to outline the AXLES Framework for developing mentoring programs. The AXLES approach is similar to the ADDIE model for designing learning solutions, which will be familiar to my instructional designers or training industry colleagues. Labin introduces the components of AXLES in the introduction chapter of her book (2017, p. xv-xvi):

  • A = Align to Purpose: define the intention/goals of the program; identify critical questions for program success, and establish strategic partners within the organization to support the mentoring program
  • X = Design the Experience: identify the mentoring program structure, schedule, participant matching, and expectations; what are the deliverables, outcomes, and lifecycle of the program you want to design?
  • L = Launch Your Program: this is the implementation of the mentoring program (initially or annually); Will you have an orientation meeting, agenda, or focused platform/communication method to get the program going?
  • E = Evaluate Effectiveness: What will be the types of measures or metrics for the mentoring program?; identify program success from both narratives of participants and potential data collection with milestones and participant input
  • S = Support Participants: design and develop resources, webinars, videos, or other performance support aids to scaffold mentor-learner interactions; these could be a participant playbook, monthly meeting agendas, or even conversation guides/resources for discussions to encourage connections for these mentoring relationships

Mentoring is defined in a number of different ways, and the approach for a mentoring experience will be individual and unique depending on your organization/institutions needs. Chapter 2 helps to identify both the direction and talent development gaps you would like to address within your own mentoring program. This foundational chapter requires readers to identify the purpose, success measures, and the focus of the program by examining both the learners’ (protege) benefits and mentors’ benefits for involvement. A mentoring program could be developed to meet technical needs or to transfer institutional knowledge, or it might be created for talent development/growth of professionals within your organization. Identifying the objectives, purpose statement, and the “role of mentoring” will be a critical phase for those constructing this type of training design.

Chapter 3 offers suggestions for mentoring program designs. For the practical organization of a mentoring program, you are encouraged to outline questions for planning the program structure, identify the program schedule, consider how to conduct participant matching, and describe how learners and mentors will participate in the program. The considerations for “cultural alignment” were addressed early in this chapter, as this type of professional development might be executed differently based on the organizations need and its learning culture. A mentoring program structure type could include traditional or 1:1 mentoring, reverse mentoring, mentor-led (group mentoring), peer-led (mentoring circles), or a hybrid of any of these formats.  Additionally, this section of the books helps readers to consider the schedule length, entry, and programmatic features, such as the matching process for mentoring and potential technology solutions for support. The last stages of design decisions required for planning mentoring programs involve the learner and mentor engagement, specifically participants entry and exit into the program and outlining operating directions, guidelines, and expectations to create successful mentoring experiences.

Chapter 4 and 5 offer insights and practical suggestions for launching and evaluating a mentoring program, respectively. I appreciated the potential suggestions for professional learning opportunities, such as communication preferences, setting goals and development plans, skill-building workshops, and other resources that could be curated for a mentoring program (e.g. icebreakers, readings, teambuilding activities, conversation topics, etc.). For evaluation purposes, Labin (2017) mapped the Kirkpatrick Four Levels of Evaluation for review of a sample mentoring program and offered strategies for how qualitative and quantitative data might offer measurement insights during a program review. Potential metrics for success could be conducted by observation of performance improvement/changes, case-based examination of the mentoring relationship, individual development plans/goals met, reflections or narratives shared in milestone reports, and engagement of mentors and leaders within the organization.

Regardless of the industry or occupation, I think mentoring program administrators/coordinators will find Labin’s book both informative and practical for designing a comprehensive mentoring program that supports productive mentoring experiences. There are a number of suggestions for defining effective mentoring behaviors, onboarding participants, engaging in regular skill building and/or learning activities, and considerations for how to engage participants throughout a mentoring program experience. Administrators of mentoring programs will gain a number of valuable ideas for communication planning, participant recruitment, mentor-learner pair matching, supporting mentors in their role, potential ways to report and offer metrics for program measurement, learning material development/maintenance, dealing with issues, and supporting participants throughout the mentoring program cycle. I appreciate how each chapter offers applied examples of mentoring perspectives from learners or various industry leaders, and the end of each chapter offers key insights, exercises, and questions for individual reflection and potential team discussions. Additionally, there are a number of support resources and example materials in the appendices of this book to help guide mentoring program development.

Reference:

Labin, J. (2017). Mentoring programs that work. Alexandria, VA: Association for Talent Development Press.

*Full disclosure: The book, Mentoring Programs That Work, was sent to me by @ATD Press to read and review. As this is a valuable contribution for mentoring program development to support professional learning and development, I am more than pleased to offer this review on my blog. Thank you!” 

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Book Review, edusocmedia, Learning and Performance, Professional Development, Training & Development

#BookReview: The New Social Learning, 2nd Edition #NewSocialLearning

The first edition of this book, The New Social Learning, was published 5 years ago. I read and have a copy of it on my bookshelf; however, we know that emerging and connected technologies have continued to flourish and influence our organizations. The social technology landscape has changed since 2010. There are a number of new platforms, additional functionalities and communication channels, an increase of utilization and adoption by our organizations, and a much greater acceptance of social media being applied for learning and development. Marcia Conner and Tony Bingham have recently published an updated version of this book with The New Social Learning: Connect. Collaborate. Work, 2nd Ed.* The latest edition provides a number of excellent case studies for how social media is being implemented in workplace learning, development, and performance.

SocialLearning

Bingham and Conner (2015, p. 8) define social learning as the “joining with others to make sense of and create new ideas…[it] is augmented with social media tools that bridge distance and time, enabling people to easily interact across workplace, passion, curiosity, skill or need. It benefits from a diversity in types of intelligence and in the experiences of those learning.” What is really “new” about this type of social learning with emerging technologies is the impact these platforms and tools have to the experience. “Social tools leave a digital audit trail, documenting our journey – often an unfolding story – and provide a path for others to learn from” (Bingham & Conner, 2015, p. 9). Social media facilitates the empowerment of learning among your networked peers beyond the limitations of geography or time.  I appreciate how the authors identify what is NOT the new social learning (e.g. informal, e-learning, MOOCs, just for knowledge workers, in contrast to formal learning/education), and how this type of learning is meant to augment, not replace, training, knowledge management, and communication practices in our organizations. As technology has accelerated change in the workplace, Bingham and Conner (2015, p. 18-19) see the opportunity to implement a new social learning strategy based on these changes in work:

  • The accelerated pace of change requires agility. Consider agile values for the workplace.
  • Our technologies go where we go without any boundaries. Not all can be controlled, contained, or developed from within an organization.
  • Our shifting workplace demographics change expectations, with regards to generations, gender, culture.
  • People desire personal connection to communicate, collaborate, and share.

Although the authors share a number of success stories about individuals and organizations who are engaged in social media to enhance learning, they do offer potential critiques and considerations for governance of social tools. By including applied examples and practice to social learning theory, this book identifies suggested approaches and considerations for implementation of a new social learning program as outlined by its table of contents (TOC):

  1. Reach Out and Connect – Introduction to the book topic and focus (download the TOC and part of Chapter 1 here: http://www.thenewsociallearning.com/)
  2. Embark on the Journey – Setting goals and planning for the “new social learning”
  3. Transition and Engage – Strategic steps for implementation of social media for learning
  4. Never Give Up – Reminders, challenges, suggestions, and issues to consider
  5. Analyze Insights and Returns – Suggested methods and areas to evaluate and measure
  6. In-Person Learning Reimagined – Opportunity to engage in F2F social learning from the springboard of social tools
  7. Appendix: Social Media Governance – Examples of a few corporate policies and guidelines to consider for your organization

Chapter 5 provided excellent considerations on how to analyze and understand stakeholders when considering a social (media) learning approach. This section outlines this lightweight analysis to help quantify social and digital tool adoption. As I tend to work with non-profits, K-12, higher education, and professional/trade associations, I modified the descriptions and questions from this section of Bingham and Conner’s (2015, pp. 206-252) book to focus the analysis for learning and development organizations:

  • Analysis 1 – Perspective: Do you have a sense of how people in your organization feel about the company/institution, each other, their clients, etc.? What if you could better map the perspective of your stakeholders? What is your priority with a new social learning approach? It will be critical to analyze patterns of attitudes, feelings, conversation tone, and individual voices in your organization by reviewing the unstructured data created by social and digital platforms.
  • Analysis 2 – Engagement: How important is it to have a large majority of your organization fully engaged in their work and/or learning? Are your stakeholders aware of the organization’s vision, mission, and purpose? What does it mean to have engaged educators and/or learners in your organization, with regards to online participation, generative production, and choices for collaboration?
  • Analysis 3 – Connectedness:  How do you want individuals in your organization to know each other or, at least, have a method by which they can get to know what skills and knowledge everyone brings to the table? Have you conducted an organizational network analysis yet? Do you have a method for sharing information, managing knowledge, and directing your organizational stakeholders to resources and/or other people?
  • Analysis 4 – Fiscal Fitness: Are you concerned that social (media) will be of little value to your organization? Are you afraid there is no way to measure the value many assure you is there with social media for learning? What is the ROI for social learning? Sometimes there might not be direct counts; however benchmarking our own performance indicators will help with identifying new opportunities to balance the reward-risk ratio. Outcomes of social learning might be noticed in the side effects, i.e., increased employee morale, a decline in sick days, or a growth in collaborative team projects.
  • Analysis 5 – Impact: How do you know what you are doing is actually making an impact to your organization? How have social (media) tools improved or supported your own learning and development? Is there a change in behavior, opinions, attitudes, and experiences of your stakeholders? Do you notice an increase in productivity or improved learning outcomes?
  • Analysis 6 – Influence: Do you know how collaboration and communication change measures of authority and the effect it has on who is “seen” to provide real value? Influence can come from a position of authority; however, it might also is socially and informally created with our digital, network tools. Involving all stakeholders to participate and identifying impactful messaging from leadership will be critical for open communication. You might not realize how pluralistic ignorance can impede social change in your organization.
  • Analysis 7 – Attention: Do you know how your own stakeholders can dramatically multiply the value of their own and their colleagues’ knowledge? Are your stakeholders paying attention to key messages and less attention to distracting noise? What are the key trends and movements in your organization on these social channels? Do you have a pulse of the conversation and needs on these platforms? Believe it or not, there is life without email.
  • Analysis 8 – Capacity: How do you want to expand the social learning methods and platforms you use to understand and maintain the critical skills needed for your organization? How can you analyze and foster leadership, interests, knowledge, content, or geographic distribution, for your social learning approach?
  • Analysis 9 – Change: How can you best understand your organization’s culture and the impact social approaches will have on transforming learning and development? How will you conduct a learning culture audit that includes the assessment of social media platforms for learning? How will you communication the transformation of your learning approach to the organization?
  • Analysis 10 – Fill the Holes:  How can you help others in your organization imagine a future and stimulate exploration of topics and ideas that might not fit into an existing structure? Can you conduct a personal network assessment to identify who in your organization might help to “fill in the missing holes” for your social learning approach? How might you analyze and review the real-time experience on your social media platforms?

Reference:

Bingham, T., & Conner, M. (2015). The new social learning: Connect. Collaborate. Work., 2nd Edition. Alexandria, VA: ATD Press.

*Full disclosure: The @NewSocialLearn book was sent to me by @ATD Press to read and post a review on my blog. Thank you for the read – it was enjoyed. 

Book Review, Open Education, OpenAccess

The Battle for the Open [Needs YOU Higher Ed]

If you have not had the chance to read The Battle for the Open by Martin Weller – you should. The battle for all things open in higher education is still being waged. As Martin said,“I’m not sure I believe in revolution in education.” But there is change ahead with openness in post-secondary learning. If you work in post-secondary education, you can not avoid this battle and should probably read on to learn about Martin’s perspective.

[Full disclosure: Martin sent me a copy of the book; however he knows I would give him praise & banter with it as needed. Thanks @mweller!]

BattleOpen

The Battle for the “Open” shares how higher education is moving towards open practice and scholarship. The goal of OPEN is to share openly, use open sourced resources, and consider strategies to include open education resources (OER) for teaching, research, and service scholarship.

Last fall, Martin paid a visit to Texas to talk with the UTA LINK Research Lab, specifically to share how openness is impacting higher education. Martin’s talk focussed on a few key areas he addresses in his book:

@mweller and all the narratives

  1. Open Access – Pathways for free online access to online scholarly works have been created. There are two routes for open access: 1) Gold Route – pay to publish an article; and 2) Green Route – self publication;  often on your own website or institutional repository. There are major policies which mandate publicly funded research to make their findings publicly available – countries are forced to publish open access. For example, 51% of authors have published open access from the Wiley survey. Read more about The Development of Open Access Journal Publishing from 1993 to 2009.
  1. Open Education Resources (OERs) – Initially started in 2001-2002 with the MIT OpenCourseWare project, and has continued with others such as the Open Learn initiative from the Open University and OER Commons. Open textbooks, like OpenStax, sell for the cost of the degree and impact the publication process of textbooks. The OER Research Hub increases access to course materials earlier and even in advance of the course start, with efforts like the #OER Impact Map to understand where open education resources are being developed.
  1. Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) – The big, free, and online courses came out of Canada, initially,…then Google Trends chart the course of the MOOC evolution into higher education. It turned out it was not just the Canadians who were interested in MOOCs. Licenses of developed and were then restricted for each of the edX, Coursera, Udacity, etc. environments. For learners, MOOCs are free to sign up, allow open access of material, and with varied creative common rights for education.  Many of these MOOCs moved into other learning management systems or varied delivery methods. With this education platform, rose issues of support and sustainability for learners. Some say that MOOCs have high-jacked what openness really means, because if you fail at a MOOC, there is a reaffirmation that open/online learning is not really for you. This might not be the case.
  1. Open Scholarship – Martin’s book, The Digital Scholar (and my recap blog post), discusses issues and challenges academics will encounter as they move online and shape their identity in the networks. Scholars are increasingly sharing information, resources, teaching curriculum, commentary, medias, and ideas in digital spaces. The growth of our networks in academia allow researchers to connect, collaborate, and contribute. The social networks also shape our identities and influence us in these spaces. Research opportunities emerge in the open, specifically with the art of guerrilla research (Martin, 2014):
    • Involves 1 or 2 researchers, and does not require a team
    • Relies on open data, information & tools
    • Fairly quick to realize
    • It is disseminated via blogs and social media
    • It does not require permission

It is critical we engage and participate in this open discussion in higher ed. If we don’t, then we will let someone else write this narrative and direct where post-secondary scholarship and learning is directed moving forward. Ultimately the battle for the open is really the battle of ownership –who owns what? Have we lost the ownership of  online learning? Can we restrict research and scholarship? What rights do we have for curriculum and educational resources? Now that “open” is prevalent in higher education, it cannot be avoided. As Martin says, “Openness is not just a peripheral interest now.” How does openness impact your role on campus, and how will you contribute?

 

References:

Weller, M. (2011). The digital scholar: How technology is transforming scholarly practice. Bloomsbury Open Access. DOI: 10.5040/9781849666275

Weller, M. (2014). The battle for open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/bam

 

Book Review, Social Media

Book Review: The Etiquette of Social Media

At the end of last year, I was a lucky GoodReads.com winner of Leonard Kim’s (a.k.a. @MrLeonardKim) book – The Etiquette of Social Media: How to Connect and Respond to Others in the World of Social Media. As I teach a professional development class and write/research this topic, with regards to social media learning and performance, I thought this might be an interesting read to add to my shelf.
Thanks for the book @MrLeonardKimOur lives are more social and online. For those who say “in real life” or “IRL” – let me just tell you, social media is real life. There are less distinctions and divisions between our online and offline selves. That being said, there has been little provided to model good behaviors and polite encounters on social media platforms. Little Miss Manners ought to write a quick overview for social media; however I think that Leonard Kim got to it first with this book. There are a number of questions and situations that need to be addressed with individual use of social media, and Leonard Kim attempts to provide examples and strategies the following questions he introduces in this book:

  • Should we act however we want online?
  • Should we censor ourselves?
  • Are we supposed to act civilized on certain platforms but casual on others?
  • What happens if we encounter a bully [online]?
  • How do we start a conversation with a potential business partner, client or future employer?

When I read these questions, I immediately thought about the number of questions I am asked about using and interacting with social media on a regular basis:

  • Do I have to have a professional photo/avatar?
  • Should I include my full name on my social media platform or website URL?
  • Should I start a blog
  • Who should monitor our office social media account(s)? And how should this be done?
  • Should I have more than one profile to interact with my colleagues vs. students?
  • What social media spaces should I be active on to learn or network within the field?
  • Who can I go for help with my own social media development/use?

With in the influx of social media platforms and increasing amount of users within our professional online networks, there are a number of questions being added to both lists. This book was a light read, with some great points and examples for both my students and early career professionals/academics who frequent social media – or want to use it further learning and performance.

Kim’s book addresses the individual use of social media, and implications using these platforms might have in your personal and professional life. In other social media books, there is a directive for organizational content development, marketing, and/or business; however these text rarely mention how professional should interact and behave online. Kim offers examples of interactions and posts from common social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Quora. Although these tools might be used right now, he addresses acceptable behavior online in any forum and encouragers his readers to be nice and respectful. Other segments of this text address personal/professional goals that includes research, building a good reputation, being polite with interactions, connecting with others, and seeking out a mentor for advice. Many of these concepts can be applied to online communication and development; but really have a greater focus on professional growth and life objectives. In contrast, later chapters do detail the potential negative aspects for being active on social media, such as  negative comments, how to manage online attacks, and how to deal with cyber bullying.

The bonus final chapter identifies how to effectively reach out to a new contact and how to avoid awkward interactions with digital messages. This section is dedicated to supporting those who want to gain experience with effective “cold call” social media messages to potential peers, collaborators, employers, etc. To be honest, a number of my students could use the basics for effective e-mail drafting and see the examples provided in this chapter, including these common denominators for a successful message (Kim, 2014, p. 92):

  • Grammar is properly used.
  • Address the respondent by name.
  • Each message has a unique sense of personality, reflecting the messenger.
  • A heartfelt and genuine compliment is stated at the beginning.
  • Build common ground on points and based on initial research.
  • Show that you respect and value the time of the message recipient.
  • Provide a reason behind the message.

Overall, I appreciate how this book deals with social media and the individual use, specifically personal interactions and polite communication. For staff and faculty in higher education, Kim provides some helpful examples and useful facts throughout the book, and it is a quick read for your students.

Reference:

Kim, L. (2014). The etiquette of social media: How to connect and respond to others in the world of social media.

#phdchat, Book Review, Higher Education, PhD

I’m “On the [Job] Market”: The Application Process

As academic job postings and other employment opportunities are becoming available, I decided it was time to prepare my own application materials and announce that I’m ON THE JOB MARKET. It should be no surprise to many as I am ABD (not a title), and I have been diligently working on my dissertation— so there is really no better time for a job search.

Well I was going to save this for holiday reading...but it looks like I'm On The Market NOW #phdchat I’ll be honest. I’m quite accustomed to the thrill of the job hunt (I am in my 3rd position of employment, since I have moved to Texas 5 years ago); however the academic job search has upped the ante. My future career planning involves a potential re-location (either in the US or abroad) and new career beginnings (either as a junior faculty member, research or other), which means this job search and application process is being treated like a job itself.

To prepare for my job search and career planning…

I have been talking to many researchers in the field, administrators in higher education, companies who seek my support, current faculty (off and on campus), mentors, and peers over the past year [Thank you for these discussions and talks – you know who you are]. More than not, many are quite open to offer advice, share professional experiences, edit my application materials, provide a reference, or send potential job postings my way (hint, hint). In my spare time, I have been reading Barnes’ (2007) “On the Market: Strategies for a Successful Academic Job Search,” specifically,  Chapter 4: The Application Process. This section of the book includes great questions to ask and think about before the application process, and examples of deciphering what academic job postings mean to decide what I want. Here are some current, pre-application questions I am currently pondering:

  • What type of position am I most interested in?
  • What sort of institution or organization do I want to work for?
  • Where do I want to live?
  • Do I want to apply for administrative or faculty track positions?
  • Who will write my reference letters?
  • Will my academic search focus on research or teaching institutions?
  • What is my best academic “fit” for department?
  • Do I want to look beyond higher education & academia?
  • Who will I connect to discussion the application process?
  • What is my timeline and schedule for applications?
  • How will I best organize a joint career search with my partner in crime?

Fortunately, most of my academic application requirements are “works in progress” from my doctoral program and portfolio requirements (Thanks #untLT department!) these past few years. My current objectives are to edit and prepare materials I have for my academic job search and application, including:

  1. Cover Letter
  2. Curriculum Vita
  3. Letters of Recommendation
  4. Writing Samples and Other Supporting Documents
  5. Teaching Portfolio (Dossier)
  6. Social Media Spaces & Places
  7. Application Schedule – to track applications & submissions

This chapter also includes helpful templates for CV’s and cover letter formats. I plan on re-tooling and modifying my current application materials based on position type and job description, so a review of these examples were helpful. Here are a few suggestions for cover letter writing items to include – 17 elements for the academic cover letter:

17 elements of the academic cover letter. #phdchat

Do you have academic job search advice? Tips on the application process? Considerations for the academic research and faculty positions? Potential openings I might be interested at your institution? Let me know. Academic job search advice is welcome.

 

Reference:

Barnes, S. L. (2007). On the market: Strategies for a successful academic job search. Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Book Review

#BookReview – Brain Gain: Technology and the Quest for Digital Wisdom

A late add to my #summerreading list was Marc Prensky’s Brain Gain: Technology and the Quest for Digital Wisdom. With the start of the semester underway, I finally found some time to review this book. 

Added to my #summerreading list...

The premise of Prensky’s new book looks at how technology is changing and enhancing our minds with digital wisdom:

“Human culture and context is exponentially change for almost everyone. To adapt to and thrive in that context, we all need to extend our abilities. Today’s technology is making this happen, and it is extending and ‘liberating’ our minds in many helpful and valuable ways. Our technology will continue to make us freer and better — but only if we develop and use it wisely” (Prensky, 2012, p. 2).

Prensky shares how technology will “change our minds” to learn new things and produce new thoughts. With our gadgets and technological capabilities, we are able to extend our minds, heighten our cognitive surplus, increase our thinking powers and improve our thought process and concentration. As Albert Einstein stated “a new type of thinking is essential if mankind [and womankind] is to survive and move to higher levels” (Prensky, 2012, p. 35). It might be time to outsource some of our brains limitations, including memory, storage, accuracy, complexity and prediction, to a technological source. Prensky believes that by using technology we have an advantage to be “better thinkers who make wiser decisions and choices” (2012, p. 52). Much of our decision-making can come from the symbiosis of the mind and technology.

Although technology is often viewed in a negative light, this book identifies ways we enhance our “digital wisdom” via technology. Prensky defines wisdom as “the ability to find practical, creative, contextually appropriate and emotionally satisfying solutions to complicated human problems” (2012, p. 45). In contemplating the arguments against this idea of being wise with technology, the author introduces several fallacies, including:

  1. “Human” as Being Special and Always Better
  2. “Genuine”
  3. Longer Always Being Better
  4. Privacy Always Being Better
  5. Depth and Always Being Better
  6. Slower Being Better
  7. “One Thing at a Time” Being Better
  8. “Brain Science” Providing All , or Even Enough, Answers
  9. Relying on “Tried and True” Solutions in New Contexts
  10. “Reflection” Being Slow
  11. “Expertise” Meaning “Knowledge and Analysis of Data” and of Expertise Coming Only from Professionals
  12. Short Attention Spans
  13. “Limited Capacity” and the Need for In-Person/Online Trade-offs
  14. The “Cultural Now”
  15. “Wisdom” as Coming Only from Humans

Throughout this book (especially in Chapter Three) there are a number of examples of digital wisdom to demonstrate how the mind and technology function well with one another. Also scattered throughout the text, there are a number of references to other great technology-focused reads – many I have on my “to read” list or just added. Here are a couple of suggestions you might like shared by Prensky:

The book continues to share examples of digital cleverness and digital stupidity, with suggestions and examples on how we all can be smarter with our technology software, hardware and digital presence. Prensky continues to share how to cultivate digital wisdom in our personal life, at work and finally in education:

“Cultivating digital wisdom means being intellectually curious and active, continually expanding one’s online universe rather than sticking with the same things, and continually bringing more of the new world into our lives” (2012, p. 182).

Although Prensky touches on his former definition of “digital natives,” he digresses to move towards the need for educators to get comfortable with developing wisdom in classrooms with technology. The skills identified with digital wisdom and technology include collaboration, teamwork, decision-making, taking risks, making ethical and moral decisions, employing scientific deduction, thinking laterally and strategically, problem solving, and dealing with foreign environments and cultures (Prensky, 2012). The final chapters discuss the real dangers, things to be wary of, acknowledging problems to fix them, and evolution of the human as being impact by technology and singularity.

Overall, I think much of this book summarizes the impact of technology and our brain power with gadget and tech consumption. Prensky presents a decent summary and tries to synthesize how our thinking, actions and learning have changed – by curating and compiling examples and theories in a digestible way for the reader. Although the concepts are not novel, I think a number of readers will appreciate the concepts put forth around digital wisdom and technology.

Reference:

Prensky, M. (2012). Brain gain: Technology and the quest for digital wisdom. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

**Full disclosure: This book was sent to me by the Palgrave Macmillian publishing group to review on my blog. Thank you for the read. **

Book Review, Higher Education, K-12, Open Education, PLN

10 Principles for the Future of Learning

While working on some late night treadmill mileage, I decided to catch up on documents and books I have been collecting on my Kindle. Last week I read The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, which was a precursor to The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age book published by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Although this material is a bit dated, I think that some of the pedagogy still applies for educational development.

Image c/o Martin Hawksey (and his musings on this text as well). 

In the first collaborative project, the authors share ten principles to support the future of learning. Davidson and Goldberg (2009) presented these pillars of institutional pedagogy to help institutions rethink learning and meet the challenges that lie ahead for both K-12 and higher education:

  1. Self-Learning – discovering and exploring online possibilities
  2. Horizontal Structures – how learning institutions enable learning; from learning that to learning how; from content to process
  3. From Presumed Authority to Collective Credibility – shifting issues of authority to issues of credibility; understand how to make wise choices
  4. A De-Centered Pedagogy – adopt a more inductive, collective learning that takes advantage of our era and digital resources
  5. Networked Learning – socially networked collaborative learning stressing cooperation, interactivity, mutuality and social engagement
  6. Open Source Education – seeks to share openly and freely in the creation of culture and learning; provides a more collective model of interchange
  7. Learning as Connectivity and Interactivity – digital connection and interaction to produce sustainable, scaffolding ensembles
  8. Lifelong Learning – there is no finality to learning; learning is part of society and culture
  9. Learning Institutions as Mobilizing Networks – networks enable flexibility, interactivity, and outcome; new institutional organizations reliability and innovation
  10. Flexible Scalability and Simulation – new technologies allow for collaboration beyond distance or scale for productive interactions that warrant educational merit

Reference: Davidson, C.N. & Goldberg, D.T. (2009). The future of learning institutions in a digital age. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.