Cluster Transfer Rapid KT Through Maps

Remembering 1 Thing over Many (Communication | Memory | Context)

“Never force anything, you’ll break it.” – Dad Cohen
  • What do we need to know and why? Memory
  • The right information at the right time. Value
  • Clusters in Context. (Maps and Links) Relationships 

MEMORY

STRATEGIES FOR REMEMBERING (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/200911/how-remember-things)

  1. Become interested in what you’re learning. We’re all better remembering what interests us. Few people, for example, have a difficult time remembering the names of people they find attractive. If you’re not intrinsically interested in what you’re learning or trying to remember, you must find a way to become so. I have to admit I wasn’t so good at this in medical school. The Krebs cycle (I provided the link only to prove how immensely boring it is) just didn’t excite me or relate to anything I found even remotely exciting (though I made myself learn it anyway).
  2. Find a way to leverage your visual memory. You’ll be astounded by how much more this will enable you to remember. For example, imagine you’re at a party and are introduced to five people in quick succession. How can you quickly memorize their names? Pick out a single defining visual characteristic of each person and connect it to a visual representation of their name, preferably through an action of some kind. For example, you can remember Mike who has large ears by creating a mental picture of a microphone (a “mike”) clearing those big ears of wax (gross, I know—sorry—but all the more effective because of it). It requires mental effort to do this, but if you practice you’ll be surprised how quickly you can come up with creative ways to create these images. Here’s another example: how often do you forget where you left your keys, your sunglasses, or your wallet? The next time you put something down somewhere, pause a moment to notice where you’ve placed it, and then in your mind blow it up. If you visualize the explosion in enough detail, you won’t forget where you put it. Remember: memory is predominantly visual (unfortunately, I can’t think of a good image to help you remember this fact right at this moment).
  3. Create a mental memory tree. If you’re trying to memorize a large number of facts, find a way to relate them in your mind visually with a memory tree. Construct big branches first, then leaves. Branches and leaves should carry labels that are personally meaningful to you in some way, and the organization of the facts (“leaves”) should be logical. It’s been well recognized since the 1950’s we remember “bits” of information better if we chunk them. For example, it’s easier to remember 467890 as “467” and “890” than as six individual digits.
  4. Associate what you’re trying to learn with what you already know. It seems the more mental connections we have to a piece of information, the more successful we’ll be in remembering it. This is why using mnemonics actually improves recall.
  5. Write out items to be memorized over and over and over. Among other things, this is how I learned the names of bacteria, what infections they cause, and what antibiotics treat them. Writing out facts in lists improves recall if you make yourself learn the lists actively instead of passively. In other words, don’t just copy the list of facts you’re trying to learn but actively recall each item you wish to learn and then write it down again and again and again. In doing this, you are, in effect, teaching yourself what you’re trying to learn (and as all teachers know, the best way to ensure you know something is to have to teach it). This method has the added benefit of immediately showing you exactly which facts haven’t made it into your long-term memory so you can focus more attention on learning them rather than wasting time reinforcing facts you already know.
  6. When reading for retention, summarize each paragraph in the margin. This requires you to think about what you’re reading, recycle it, and teach it to yourself again. Even take the concepts you’re learning and reason forward with them; apply them to imagined novel situations, which creates more neural connections to reinforce the memory.
  7. Do most of your studying in the afternoon. Though you may identify yourself as a “morning person” or “evening person” at least one study suggests your ability to memorize isn’t influenced as much by what time of day you perceive yourself to be most alert but by the time of day you actually study—afternoon appearing to be the best.
  8. Get adequate sleep to consolidate and retain memories. Not just at night after you’ve studied but the day before you study as well. Far better to do this than stay up cramming all night for an exam.

Mental Tree MindMaps and Remember Once.. And Knowledge Journey

There are differences in transferring long-term and short-term knowledge.   Today people are more likely to know less because of technology.   This means that the requirements to retain information and manage it have changed over time. What a knowledge receiver needs to know is the location of the information and the context of that information as applied once they discover or reference it.  Once they identify what they are looking for they also need the ability to understand and codify the information for it to be useful.

Method of Loci

 The method of loci is a method of memorizing information by placing each item to be remembered at a point along an imaginary journey. The information can then be recalled in a specific order by retracing the same route through the imaginary journey. Loci is the plural for of the Latin word,locus, meaning place or location. The method of loci is also called the Journey Method by Dominic O’Brien, and the imaginary journeys are often referred to as Memory Palaces or Memory Journeys. See also Mind Palace, the term used in the TV show, Sherlock. (http://mnemotechnics.org/wiki/Method_of_Loci)

Rapid KT..  A Mind Map is a ROAD MAP of associations..

The map is a visual representation of the interlinkages of nodes (objects or concepts) and their relationships.   To transfer knowledge rapidly (the secret sauce) is for a—> mentor or SME (Subject Matter Expert) to take the knowledge receiver on a trip through the map.

Example:

It all started..(element of time and location) (HERE at this place) and this turned into the (X), where X = an outcome and (X) is related to (A,B,C) —> It is objects and concepts in story on a map that can account for time and events.   As a result of an event on (this date or timeframe) the object or concept of (x) turned to (X1).  All of this contained in an explicit map.

 

The key is that you don’t have to remember to “Bake” or “Bake In Oven” individually,  you need to remember the map as a whole.   (Even though this map is simple)  The person that is transferring knowledge creates the map or walks the map with the person receiving knowledge.   The story comes with the map.. the story is that TACIT information …  “When I first started here and I was learning how to bake a cake, I didn’t know to pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees for 30 minutes.”  The knowledge receiver can adopt the concept / mind / knowledge map and put their own notes or stories.  It is their investment, it is personal to them.    There are things the receiver may already know and not need.   The image or map is the cluster of relative and relevant knowledge.  In the process of KT, it can be tied to one event.  There are elements of Personal knowledge, Team knowledge and Enterprise knowledge here.    The lower the fidelity of information the higher the knowledge resides.  The map shown above can be linked to in an enterprise repository to team or personal maps.   During the process of knowledge transfer all of the maps and information associated is identified as one clustered object.   The knowledge receiver learns about the process, methods, tools and any links to people who may have existed in the past and exist today.

When I was a young man working on a car with my father, he said “Righty tighty, lefty loosy” and in the same instance “Never force anything, you’ll break it.”   He only told me one time and I have remembered and applied this my whole life.  These two concepts were shared in one event, the relationship of the information is tied to my father, a Dodge Scamp Silver, any given Sunday and working on cars at the top of an open air garage in Coop City.     That is how we remember things..   When looking to transfer knowledge, we have to address the environment, condition, time, sentiment and ability to cluster information and create relationships with the data for purposeful recall.

How do I create a “clustered package” for KT?

Please be clear that I am not inventing something new.   This is a simple outline for steps you would take on a high level.

  1. Identify who, what when, where and why.
  2. How- This will be the process and the methods.
  3. What is important to know today? How much of this information is still relevant?  Can I throw some of this away or do it better?
  4. What is the business case for this information and what historical measures have been used?
  5. What are the stories that are tied to the information?
  6. What can we automate (where it makes sense)?
  7. What changes should be made moving forward?
  8. What is the risk? (From the SME’s perspective)
  9. What is value? (From the SME’s perspective)
  10. How is any of this tied to assessment criteria? (if not, why not?)

These are some of the steps and questions that we may ask.  We must understand (WHY) and we must seek to keep all of the information and content tied through the understanding of relationships.   My good friend and mentor Ron Batdorf will say that this is all tied to Enterprise Architecture.   It is an explicit expression of a moment in time relative to what is important (NOW).  Effectively a best effort to get the right information at the right time.

 

bakemap1

Advanced Map of Context

Alzheimer’s Map <—PDF larger viewAlzheimers_Map-440x264

 

What do you think?

Memory Forum –>http://mnemotechnics.org/

 

 

Ignoring Email and Other Communication


Message in a Bottle

You are stranded on a desert island the year is 1978, you are alone and through the wreckage you find something to write with; a piece of paper and a bottle.   You write a message “Help.. Stranded last known coordinates were 9.6228° N, 99.6750° E.”   You place the message in a bottle, plug up the top and send it out hoping some one will find it and you!

I have a basic sense that if you did this during that time, that someone would hopefully find the message and further find someone to help.

2014… same issue, same message..  it seems that most people would take the bottle, put a picture of it on social media and try to sell the authentic “message in a bottle” on an electronic auction site after getting 10 million “likes” and comments.   I actually wouldn’t have even imagined something like that 20 years ago.  The sad part is that you would remain stranded, in theory.

If this is how we are acting today, what will we become?

postmay

Turn On Your Comms and Get Disconnected

  • I don’t want to know what is going on the world but I watch and read the news.
  • I don’t want to hear about another persons problems but I am on Facebook, Google+, Instagram…
  • I don’t want to get emails from people I don’t know but “If you need to get a hold of me, here is my email”
  • I don’t want to be known or have random people contact me but I write blogs, author books, articles for small trade magazines and position myself for high visibility on social media.
  • I don’t want to be connected but I have a laptop, mobile phone, tablet etc.
  • I want everyone to accept me and know me and understand me and I am very important and unless you are compensating me or of some value to me, please let me alone.

This is true.. Here is a quote from a person who shall remain anonymous..

“The key with me is someone who shows respect for my time. As a consultant, my product is my time and intellectual capital. You are asking me for a free product sample. Consider it the same as walking into a store and asking for something free off the shelf worth a lot more than a cup of coffee or a lunch. Don’t make me waste two hours when you factor in the driving time, chit chat, and getting to the point. Be clear exactly what you need so we can get down to it. Accept that a phone call will get you the information or connections you need. My business model requires efficiency. I can’t “make” more product (time).” –Anonymous Important Business Professional.

 

10 Generations Chart

I think that people are important and that there is a balance with being realistic about how important a person is relative to everyone else in the world.   I would ask you to consider without looking anything up to think about and remember your Great Great Great Grandmother, who was she?  Do you even know her name?  Now thinking about the future, who are you?   We are here for a short period of time and we are small in the universe.  What we do for each other and how we treat each other is important today, right now.    If you don’t have time to respond to someone and you are that important and valuable, something is wrong.

Professional Business Etiquette for Email (Old Rules)

Never send anything you would not want to see
in tomorrow’s newspaper. There are no security
guarantees with electronic mail. Avoid sending
ANY confidential or sensitive information via
email. Remember, it’s very easy for someone
else to forward messages you thought were
confidential.

• When you are upset or angry, learn how to use the postpone command.
Review the message after you have had time to calm down.

• Do not send abusive, harassing, or threatening messages.

• Be cautious when using sarcasm and humor. Without facial expressions
and tone of voice, they do not translate easily through email.

• Keep messages and replies brief.

• Use email in a professional manner. Remember, you cannot control
where your message might be sent.

• Do not send chain letters through email. This includes any message that
contains a request to forward the information to lots of other people.

• Don’t leave your email account open when you leave your computer.
Anyone could sit down at your keyboard and send out any
libelous/offensive/embarrassing message under your name.

• Don’t send replies to “all recipients” unless there is a very specific need for
everyone to receive the message. It wastes disk space, clutters up
inboxes and can be annoying.

• When replying, keep messages brief and to the point. Don’t reproduce a
message in its entirety. Be selective with what you reproduce and only do
it as needed.

• Remember that all laws governing copyrights, defamation, discrimination
and other forms of written communication also apply to email.

 

These were some “rules” for email.  I gather that most of us don’t take communication etiquette class.   It was the first class for me while starting my MBA program.  Unfortunately, the rules from Letita Baldrige do NOT apply anymore.

 Email Etiquette Rules (Dated 10/2013)

Career coach Barbara Pachter outlines modern email etiquette rules in her latest book “The Essentials Of Business Etiquette.” We pulled out the most important ones you need to know:

1. Include a clear, direct subject line.

Examples of a good subject line include “Meeting date changed,” “Quick question about your presentation,” or “Suggestions for the proposal.”

“People often decide whether to open an email based on the subject line,” says Pachter. “Choose one that lets readers know you are addressing their concerns or business issues.”

2. Use a professional email address.

If you work for a company, you should use your company email address. But if you use a personal email account — whether you are self-employed or just like using it occasionally for work-related correspondences — you should be careful when choosing that address, says Pachter.

You should always have an email address that conveys your name so that the recipient knows exactly who’s sending the email. Never use email addresses (perhaps remnants of your grade-school days) that are not appropriate for use in the workplace, such as “diva@…” or “babygirl@…”

3. Think twice before hitting “reply all.”

No one wants to read emails from 20 people when it has nothing to do with them. They could just ignore the emails, but many people get notifications of new messages on their smartphones or distracting pop-up messages on their computer screens. Refrain from hitting “reply all” unless you really think everyone on the list needs to receive the email, says Pachter.

4. Use exclamation points sparingly.

If you choose to use an exclamation point, use only one to convey excitement, says Pachter.

“People sometimes get carried away and put a number of exclamation points at the end of their sentences. The result can appear too emotional or immature,” she writes. “Exclamation points should be used sparingly in writing.” 

5. Be cautious with humor.

Humor can easily get lost in translation without the right tone or facial expressions. In a professional exchange, it’s better to leave humor out of emails unless you know the recipient well. Also, something that you think is funny might not be funny to someone else.

Pachter says: “Something perceived as funny when spoken may come across very differently when written. When in doubt, leave it out.”

6. Know that people from different cultures speak and write differently.

Miscommunication can easily occur due to cultural differences, especially in the writing form when we can’t see each other’s body language. Tailor your message depending on the receiver’s cultural background or how well you know them.

A good rule to keep in mind, says Pachter, is that high-context cultures (Japanese, Arab, or Chinese) want to get to know you before doing business with you. Therefore, it may be common for business associates from these countries to be more personal in their writings. On the other hand, people from low-context cultures (German, American, or Scandinavian) prefer to get to the point very quickly.

7. Reply to your emails — even if the email wasn’t intended for you.

It’s difficult to reply to every email message ever sent to you, but you should try to, says Pachter. This includes when the email was accidentally sent to you, especially if the sender is expecting a reply. A reply isn’t necessary, but serves as good email etiquette, especially if this person works in the same company or industry as you.

Here’s an example reply: “I know you’re very busy, but I don’t think you meant to send this email to me. And I wanted to let you know so you can send it to the correct person.”

Aside from these email tips, always make sure to proof your messages so that there aren’t any jarring mistakes that make you seem unprofessional. Pachter advises to always add the email address last so that the email doesn’t accidentally send before you’re ready.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/email-etiquette-rules-barbara-pachter-2013-10#ixzz324v9wGP4

 

You Never Know

Our communication is changing very quickly.  In a lot of ways we are moving in the wrong direction.   Text messages are now part of normal business communication and they leave gaping holes in context and frequency.   Email which was by all means supposed to go away, is still here.   In business, email is still for a lot of people their primary tool of communication.    Of course it is reasonable to be considerate and respectful for a person’s time.   At the same time if you get a message from a stranger and it is not a mass communication, create a simple response.  If you don’t have time, then don’t do it.   I know a business leader who runs a multibillion dollar organization, works on a foundation former and current presidents,  has hundreds of emails a day and he finds the time to respond.    It is not only possible, it is reasonable.   If  you don’t respond to a person who has directly messaged you, there is a clear message to them.   In my short life, I have found that we are connected in ways that we can’t easily estimate and understand.    If you diminish a person by not even acknowledging their existence, it can and in some cases will come around in the future.

 

 

If you have a question or comment feel free to email me

Project Black Box – 1 -2 -3

Team to the Center..

It isn’t exactly what it seems..  About 10 years ago, my team implemented one of the first fully virtualized computing environments on a defense oriented platform.   It was a pretty complex system with a 4 tier architecture.  The software that we were sharing for end user productivity was called TeamCenter Requirements.

When our team realized what it was going to take to make this system work as an enterprise level capability that was available worldwide to users as far as Korea, we knew that our plan to get us the capability we needed were going to take imagination.

We needed a robust operating capability that had a good responsive speed of service, available to DoD architects, planners, and engineering oriented teams.    We needed to meet DoD security requirements and function on DoD infrastructure.   We were constrained by budget and we had an aggressive agile like schedule.  At the time, the concept of Agile development was not even something we heard of.

Fast Forward

AND.. We did it!  Our team pulled it off! … But what happened next is why this story is important.

Now that it works.. Take it all apart..

We had to transition the whole enterprise solution to a cloud based platform and as we moved all of our software and licenses, we quickly found out that the IaaS platform that we were moving our software to was not going to be enough to hold up the building.

We had to transfer equipment and licenses and…

After months of work it was done but the level of effort was so great that the team supporting the cloud platform was fed up and frustrated and they left.  Yes, they quit!  Our team had to essentially take over the work which mean’t they all had to shift to other companies and  it was a mess.

After a while.. they got frustrated and they left.. and what they left was explicit documentation (limited in scope and instruction).  The systems and support services were lacking and there wasn’t enough man power to support their capabilities no less the system that we brought in.

 Last man standing..

I went from a team of over 12 people down to just myself.  During the transition process I was pulled into a different project and I was no longer managing the system work.    I watched as the team left for other projects, one by one.  Now leadership came to me at the end when they had no one else and said “what do we do?”   When they initially asked me to work on the other project it was for a good business purpose and I understood, although I loved my team and I felt close to them.    Now they had shed everyone for one reason or another, they still needed the capability and they needed help.

Unfortunately, this project was under budget constraints that did not allow for new hires.. and they needed to maintain a capability for as long as possible without bringing in new people.   That is 12 down to 1 in support.  We did have a few people left on the cloud side of the house supporting virtual technologies but no one that understood TeamCenter except for me.

 

Black Box –> End of Life

  1. Created a virtual set of appliances using the existing software.
  2. Created documents to support the effort.
  3. Defined some operating guidelines.
  4. Set expectations on performance.
  5. Came up with a transition plan.

Eventually,  the capability was replaced.  The work was able to continue and all of the staff involved had a successful transition.

 

Lessons Learned

  1. People are not as replaceable as advertised.
  2. Knowledge Management must occur over the long term and the life of a project.
  3. When shifting project ownership, the incoming PM should maintain and grow KM.
  4. Trust is key and when it is broken, your staff will leave you.
  5. There are methods to convert and maintain a “Black Box” solution but they are all stop gap measures.  (Triage over a long term resolve)

If you have questions on specifics, please reach out!

 

 

 

 

 

Mothers Day 2014

Thank you.

I sat down to blog today and started thinking about the topics in my mind’s eye.  I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that today is mothers day.   I wouldn’t be here in the position I am in today without my mother Irene and my wife Erin.   I wouldn’t have had a chance without them.   I know all the words are on the table and in all the books and poems.  I understand that but I think there is something to be said for just saying “thank you.”  All the flowers will go away and the chocolates will be eaten and mom will still be there.

For Ma… thanks for being there and don’t worry so much.

For Erin, thanks for being you and the best mother to my boys and for truly amazing me with your super momness!

I know this is short but .. at this moment being thankful is all I got..

 

Howie

Enterprise Savings by Going Minimalist

 Minimalism is a tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” –Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus 

(IDEA ALERT)

What if..

  • You spent less on application support.
  • You spent less on application licensing.
  • You spent less on infrastructure.
  • You spent less on integration.
  • You spent less on planning.
  • You spent less..

I am keeping this post short..

Think about this http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/05/03/most-office-workers-arent-actually-using-microsoft-office

“The average employee spent only 48 minutes per day using Office, largely the Outlook email client, which consumed about 68 percent of that activity. Excel was in second place with 17 percent, or an average of 8 minutes per day, leaving Word and PowerPoint trailing with only 5 minutes and 2 minutes per day each.”

How do you determine what to get rid of and what to keep?

Apply the desired path approach https://cohenovate.com/2014/04/01/the-desired-path-km/

1)Section off areas of business of low risk and start a pilot.

2)Get rid of everything and see what staff actually needs.

3)Give them what they need and monitor.

4)Work with vendors to create on-demand modeling for the rest.

__Pay less__Support Less__Own Less__  ETC..

 

If you want to talk more about this.. email me. 

 

 

Social Constructivist Learning @ Work

Cognitive and Social

Learning Concepts — Basic Premise of Social Constructivist.

The concepts that we have studied around learning for children can be applied to adults as well.  There isn’t some date or time that cognitive psychology just short circuits and expires.   As a KM practitioner and consultant I am finding that simple is more effective than complex and that lessons learned from education applies directly to Knowledge Management and education in business.

What is Social Constructivist Learning?

Lev Vygotsky (http://www.ced.appstate.edu/vybio.html) a cognitive psychologist asserts that socialization and culture provide children with the cognitive tools required for development.  One of the best known concepts from Vygotsky, the zone of proximal development (ZPD) is as follows:

Vygotsky’s ZPD emphasizes his belief that learning is, fundamentally, a socially mediated activity. Thinking and problem-solving skills can, according to Vygotsky, be placed in three categories. some can be performed independently by the child. Others cannot be performed even with help. Between these two extremes are skills the child can perform with help from others. those skills are in the ZPD. If a child uses these cognitive processes with help of others, such as teachers, parents, and fellow students, they will develop skills that can be independently practices. As Vygotsky (1987) puts it, ” What the child is able to do in collaboration today he will be able to do independently tomorrow.” Whereas an extreme interpretation of Piaget can lead to the conclusion that teachers teach best who get out of the way and let a naturally unfolding development take its course, Vygotsky’s theory requires an involved teacher who is an active participant, and guide, for student.

Vygotsky’s concepts assert that children develop best in social or group settings, the use of technology to connect students would be an appropriate practical application of these concepts.

“A constructivist teacher creates a context for learning in which students can become engaged in interesting activities that encourages and facilitates learning. The teacher does not simply stand by, however, and watch children explore and discover. Instead, the teacher may often guide students as they approach problems, may encourage them to work in groups to think about issues and questions, and support them with encouragement and advice as they tackle problems, adventures, and challenges that are rooted in real life situations that are both interesting to the students and satisfying in terms of the result of their work. Teachers thus facilitate cognitive growth and learning as do peers and other members of the child’s community.” (http://viking.coe.uh.edu/~ichen/ebook/et-it/social.htm)

There are four principles are applied in any Vygotskian classroom.

  1. Learning and development is a social, collaborative activity.
  2. The Zone of Proximal Development can serve as a guide for curricular and lesson planning.
  3. School learning should occur in a meaningful context and not be separated from learning and knowledge children develop in the “real world”.
  4. Out-of-school experiences should be related to the child’s school experience.

How does this translate to adults in business ?

A KM facilitator or Community Manager (CM) acts essentially as an enabler for employees as performers and subject matter experts.   The information and knowledge management activities are centered through collaboration and connectivity of information in context.  The CM can create activity based toolkits that experts and activity performers can leverage as part of a collaborative approach.

Key factors include:

  1. A safe environment for students to collaborate.  ~Translates to “safe and open environment for employees”
  2. A facilitated set of activities that introduce real life concepts for students.~Translates to “facilitate activities that are simulations of real business situations or labs”
  3. Technological capabilities that “enable” active collaboration. ~ SAME
  4. Appropriate feedback models and measures that provide information to teachers, librarians and students. ~ SAME for adult learners

What tools and technologies could be used for these activities?  (for teaching but … applies to business)

  • Reading and Writing Workshops:  This approach teaches students reading and language arts from a student-centric or student-centered process that gives students as individual performers and groups a great deal of responsibility on making decisions pertaining to what they will study and the reasoning behind it.  This approach emphasizes the collaborative and social aspects and nature of learning.    Collaboration activities that occur in the workshop are facilitated and conference driven workflows that include classroom and non-classroom based activities.  Students will create ideas, drafts and written products through explicit exchanges with peer groups, teachers, parents and other relevant members of the student’s social network.
  •  The collaboration activities are “for purpose” and have a meaningful outcome for students to aspire to as opposed to providing a summary of a teacher lesson and/or reiterating a teachers personal perspective or interpretation.   The function of a group discussion in both small groups and larger whole-class groups creates a feedback loop that informs both students and teachers.  In the case of this collaborative construct everyone has an opportunity for shared learning and communication.  Teachers who have the ability to take on active learning roles can inform and teach students how to listen, write, speak, read and effectively communicate.   Teachers actively teach students how to learn and think about information and further convert this information into knowledge that can be actualized.  This pragmatic approach can prepare students for education from a learning engagement perspective, social perspective and practical implementation perspective.

Here are some examples of this approach:

Whole Language:  “In the simplest terms, the “whole language approach” is a method of teaching children to read by recognizing words as whole pieces of language. Proponents of the whole language philosophy believe that language should not be broken down into letters and combinations of letters and “decoded.” Instead, they believe that language is a complete system of making meaning, with words functioning in relation to each other in context”. (What is the whole language approach?)

While these concepts are the basis for teaching children, they apply to adults almost across the board.

Some key characteristics of the whole language approach are:

  •  Acceptance of learners. This means, in part, that all learners are accepted regardless of their cultural or socio-economic background or other characteristics or labels. But in whole language classrooms, “acceptance of learners” also means that whole language teachers develop the classroom environment and the curriculum for and with the students, to meet their needs and engage them in learning about what interests them, as well as to cover essentials from the curriculum guidelines.
  • Flexibility within structure. Instead of having children do one brief activity or worksheet after another, whole language teachers organize the day in larger blocks of time, so that children can engage in meaningful pursuits. Thus they engage in fewer different tasks, but larger and more satisfying projects. They may have a readers’ and writers’ workshop, for instance, when the children read books and perhaps use them as models for their own writing. They may study a theme or topic at least part of the day for several days or weeks, using oral and written language and research skills to pursue learning in the realm of social studies and/or science and math, and using language and the arts to demonstrate and share what they have learned. Together and individually, the students have many choices as to what they will do and learn, which enables them to take significant responsibility for their learning. However, the teacher guides, supports, and structures the children’s learning as needed. Flexibility within the larger time blocks offers the time that learners need (especially the less proficient) in order to accomplish something meaningful and significant.
  • Supportive classroom community. Many whole language teachers help children develop skills for interacting with each other, solving interpersonal conflicts and problems, supporting one another in learning, and taking substantial responsibility for their own behavior and learning.
  • Expectations for success as they engage in “real” reading, writing, and learning. Kids aren’t kept doing “readiness” activities, in preparation for later reading and writing; rather, they are given the support they need to read and write whole texts from the very beginning. Whole language teachers have discovered that virtually all children can learn to read and write whole texts. This is true also of children who have heretofore been sent to resource rooms because they had difficulty with skills work. Indeed, reading whole texts is often easier for these children than doing the skills work.
  • Skills taught in context. Instead of being taught in isolation, skills are taught through mini-lessons and conferences, in the context of students’ reading, writing, and learning. For example: phonics is taught mainly through discussion and activities deriving from texts the children have read and reread with the teacher, and through writing the sounds they hear in words. Spelling is mainly taught when children are editing their writing, and grammar is mainly taught as the teacher helps children revise and edit what they’ve written. Skills like using the index of a book are taught when students need to locate information on a topic they want to research, while using the yellow pages of a phone book is taught when children need to locate resources within the community. In short, skills are taught while students are engaged in real-life tasks.
  • Teacher support for learning: scaffolding and collaboration. Teachers provide “scaffolding” for learning in many ways. For instance, primary grade teachers read Big Books and charts to and with children again and again, enabling the children to read whole texts before they can read independently. Whole language teachers help children write the sounds they hear in words, thus enabling the children to communicate through writing. They collaborate with children in carrying out research projects and, in the process, they model and explain how to do things that the children could not yet do alone. By collaborating on projects, children provide similar support for each other.
  • Contextualized assessment that emphasizes individuals’ growth as well as their accomplishments. Assessment is based primarily upon what children are doing from day to day as they read, write, do math and science, research topics of interest, and express their learning in various ways. Comprehensive, “portfolio” assessment will include data not only on the products of children’s efforts, but on their learning processes. Whole language teachers commonly involve children in assessing their own work and progress, and in setting future goals for learning. Parents and peers may also be involved in assessment. Individual growth and strengths are emphasized, along with progress in meeting agreed-upon goals and predetermined criteria.
  • Situated Learning- The concept of situated learning has been put forward by Lave and Wenger (1991). The idea is to look at social process and engagement over cognitive process and conceptual structures.  William F. Hanks puts it in his introduction to their book: ‘Rather than asking what kind of cognitive processes and conceptual structures are involved, they ask what kinds of social engagements provide the proper context for learning to take place’ (1991: 14). The fundamental idea around situated learning is based in the concepts of “communities of practice.”
  • Collaborative Learning- This is the idea that more than one person can work together to learn together.  Further that participants in this kind of learning approach will overall perform better than individual performs.
  • Anchored Instruction- “ refers to instruction in which the material to be learned is presented in the context of an authentic event that serves to anchor or situate the material and, further, allows it to be examined from multiple perspectives.” (Barab 2000:5)
  • Gamification (Gamification) is the concept of applying game-design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging. Children today are extremely responsive to playing electronic games. There are number opportunities for social and collaborative learning thought live virtual construction and other virtual technologies. Some examples are Minecraft, World of Warcraft and even a new site called Growtopia. Working with the Librarian teachers can leverage these technologies with students both in and out of the classroom.  Additionally, children can extend their reach by employing these same technologies at home.
  • Model Based Instruction(Simulation)– Technologies have advanced in modeling and simulation well beyond the traditional block Lego.  There are Snap Circuits for children to create electronic modeling, amateur computing like the Raspberry Pi where students can create software applications, programs, games and operating environments.  Librarians can use lessons learned and best practices to reproduce and construct scientific models to describe, to explain, to predict and to control physical phenomena.

 

 

Community Managers and Knowledge Managers with a clear understanding of business AND employee needs as “requirements” can work alongside their peers as enablers.  A clear understanding of technology and the applicability to the various approaches in context of collaboration and social learning will educate the subject matter experts and practitioners alike .  As technology, process, and practice evolve facilitators can maintain their role as the implementation and facilitation specialists which  create, maintain, grow and facilitate the various lessons learned, best practices and technological capabilities in order to support the shared objectives of facilitated collaborative learning and instruction for the specific purpose of enhancing business.

 

Harold has it right!