ASTD's The Learning Circuits Blog posted it's question of the month the other day. For this month it's asking "What Did You Learn About Learning In 2009?" We're asked to describe any "aha" moments as we think back across the earlier months in this year.
In thinking about my response, I found it helpful to dig through my articles this year and see what some of the "Best Of" highlights were through 2009. So I took a look at the Content stats using Google analytics. I also took a look at my feature articles in the niche-focused eLearningLearning Community. (The latter being a community that, "...(collects and organizes) the best information on the web about eLearning.")
At the end of this post I'll list my five "Best Of" articles according to the eLearningLearning community. (Where my Google stats say something different, I'll point them out.) But, as interesting as my Best Of articles were to re-visit, what I found more helpful was to stand back and sort of blur my eyes a bit to see what insights I could glean.
My top 5 "aha" moments from 2009.
After the initial echo from the vacuum between my ears, the following five things--in no particular order--sort of faded to the foreground as "aha" moments.
- Listening posts for feedback and direction. It has been hugely helpful to have tools on hand that do much of the heavy-lifting to collect and organize relevant information for my professional development. Automated tools such as Google Alerts, Google Analytics, RSS, and other tools via affiliations with niche communities (e.g., eLearningLearning), and so on have been great. These technologies have been immensely helpful in keeping me clued-in about where I need to improve for my own development, as well as for understanding where variances exist between what I think my readers want from content I produce versus what they believe is important. The 5 Best Of articles I list at the end of this post is a good example of this variance because what my readers read the most weren't the things I necessarily thought were the things they'd most read. (*Chuckling* I hope that made sense.)
- Reflection. I believe learning happens best when we take time to reflect on the meanings of things that go against our expectations. And, to then devise a new course of action based on those revelations. This goes hand in hand with having feedback mechanisms, such as automated listening posts as I mentioned above. But, this can also be just as effective--if not more so--when a non-technology feedback loop is put to use. Personal coaching, mentoring and mastermind groups come to mind.
- We shouldn't underestimate our expertise. It's all too easy to sell ourselves short and think that for any topic we feel we know, there's always going to be somebody else in the world who knows that topic more than we. While that may very well be true, it is also true that: 1) many of those people will not act to share their knowledge to a wider audience via conventional or new media. Hence, their expertise will unfortunately remain invisible and do relatively little to benefit others; and 2) it is also true that there are many in the world who know less about a particular subject than we do. Those people can benefit from what we know--if only we will be willing to share it with them.
- We gain strength from communities. I'm not just talking about online social networks here. Last year (2008) I ran 4 marathons, as well as an equal number of half-marathons and smaller races. This past year (2009) I ran...zero (0) races. (Not for want of trying.) Also, this year I couldn't seem to stay consistent in my training program to save my life. The big difference (?)--last year I was a member of a 6- to 8-person running group. We got together at least every Saturday morning to do "long runs" together. This year, I didn't. By being a member of a community we enjoy--no matter how small the community or group--we indirectly set new standards of expectations for ourselves in order to be able to continue membership. For example, in order for me to "be able" to keep up with those whose company I enjoyed every Saturday morning, I had to do my "homework" and consistently run my own miles during the week so I could maintain fitness to ensure I kept pace with my buds for our long runs every Saturday morning.
- Many of my readers love tools, "how tos" and lists! I let out a chuckle every month when I take a look at my Content stats. This relates to my first points above about Listening Posts and Reflection. As it turns out, despite my musings about topics in social media, business and learning, the articles many of you like to read seem to be those that provide lists, give a tutorial or those which outline a process or proedure. I'll have to reflect on that more and see how best to tailor my content for you in 2010. :)
This all brings me to a nice segue way.
Most read articles in 2009.
A review of my queries from eLearningLearning.com suggest the following top 5 articles to date from my blog in 2009. (Listed in reverse-order of popularity.)
#5. How to share a link to a specific timecode in YouTube video. (#4 using Google Analytics.)
#4. Meeting icebreaker-How to get a group to acknowledge differences in perceptions. (Google Analytics - #6.)
#3. Favorite 10 Tools For Creating Learning. (Google Analytics - #1.)
#2. An eight-step process using Post-it notes to gain meeting consensus. (Google Analytics - #9.)
#1. Part 2: A four-level framework for evaluating social netwrok ROI. (Google Analytics - #8.)
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