Tag Archives: professional development

Learnt it on the grapevine – Pat Mock, Jenny Kirkwood #open17

Lots of e-resources that need certain amount of skills to use. But don’t have a trainer so implementing training isn’t manageable – fitting into schedules is hard. Training isn’t always motivating – especially hard for the trainer when trainees forget everything they’ve been told – only remember who the expert was “and it wasn’t them”.

Did research and found brain is designed to shed information. 50% of what you hear will be gone on within an hour. Unless you can convince your brain you’re going to need it again – this is the key to their new system, “grapevine training”.

Short 10-15min sessions where person A trains B -> C -> D … -> A. Different topic starting a chain every few weeks. Done for technical issues, work processes, etc.

Staff like the format – get engaged working one-on-one. Often work together longer than session intended and first staff member gets more out than put in. More confident demonstrating to public because they’ve already demo’d to each other.

Not perfect each time. One problem is that once a train sets off it’s hard to track how far it’s progressed – so create a document where staff tick when training is received and passed on.

Usually reference staff are responsible for training so they started kicking off the training but when they got a bit tired of this, other staff got asked to kick off chains. Staff are now using chains when they want to use a skill.

Takes the expert out of the equation so staff are now more empowered. Doing better with familiarity with resources by engaging staff.

Did they check this doesn’t end up like Chinese Whispers? Actually didn’t. Theoretically the last person gives it back to person A but in practice the chains broke first. But didn’t find that it got distorted. Sometimes you get something different but not wrong – they’d just gone off on a tangent.

May not work in big systems – online document to track helped but easier in smaller organisation.

For a short thing, can have one person teach two and spreads faster – pyramid style.

Who initiates? Still mostly the reference team. But very successful when others start. Requires one of the reference team to push it at the start.

Have considered trying it with school classes too – haven’t had a chance to try that yet.

What about capturing notes from people along the chain?

What happens when the chain breaks? You can prod people. But if people really don’t want to learn, so be it. Has worked better and for longer than anything else.

They set a time limit, not always met.

Is there a structured chain? In the start, yes, but really labour-intensive and would break when someone went on leave. More flexible when there’s an online form as staff can find someone available.

Professional development in the social media age #vala14 #s36

Holley Adams, Hugh Rundle and Hannah Munn ‘I read this thing’: bringing professional development into the social media age

The problem they thought they were solving was not seeing engagement of staff with printed journals.
Subscribe to lots of LIS print journals/magazines – routing slips for circulation, lots of inefficiencies, cost, stafftime. Most available on ProQuest/EBSCO and accessible by RSS/email alerts but staff don’t really use them for professional learning. Staff also less aware of open access resources. And print is at odds with sustainability issues.

Some turned to Twitter, following blogs, reading articles online. Some exasperated with slow routing. Some just didn’t bother. In discussing issues, questions arose:
* What are staff reading?
* Where?
* Do they share? How can we do this?
* Do they belong to communities?
* Do they discuss them? Can we capture this?
* How do people bring ideas back to teams?
* How to oldies recruit/engage those getting started?

More they talked, more they realised they needed a new model – otherwise solving last century’s model with this century’s tools. Want everyone to learn, contribute to peer reviewed articles and general chatter. Want to increase discussion about current thinking in LIS.

“Student teachers were most successful at learning when they blended their online learning with existing communities of practice” (Mackey and Evans)
“For informal learning, professionals should be located together, have time set aside for learning, and have internet access” (Lohman)

Wanting to create a workplace learning network.

Many staff building personal learning networks but needed a solution that gave all staff something they could use comfortably/easily. Tension between wanting open network and some staff being anxious about work/personal convergence. Ideally familiar to staff and easy to use. Decided they didn’t need one perfect tool – needed an ecosystem of tools.

  • WordPress blog “I read this thing” so there’d be a central place for the project and a place to aggregate other social media about it. Lots of early posts about setting up RSS feeds and blogs to follow. When traffic dropped, added RSS widget to intranet which has worked well.
  • Twitter hashtag #coblspd (maybe not so easy to remember but avoids namespace collision of first choice). Excellent for sharing links to info. Only a handful have used hashtag and is increasing. More would be using it if only they could remember what it was!
  • Set up a Yammer group – closed environment for those who don’t want to be out in the world.

Launched staff survey to get idea of existing reading/writing. Found out most staff doing lots of self-directed learning – mostly online. What they needed was a better way of sharing that learning. (Will rerun survey again soon to see if any difference compared to half a year ago.)

Structure of “benevolent anarchy”. Some facilitators but hoping that will one day become unnecessary. Still leading people to this sharing model. Ten staff contacted them about journal routing and said they want less print and would rather access online. A handful have contacted about setting up RSS and joining MOOCs. Slightly larger group using hashtag. (Others sharing things and forgetting hashtag.) Lots of staff reading blog – want to draw them out to sharing.

No-one’s used Yammer, probably because has never been incorporated into any workplace structure/routine. Many don’t know it exists or think it’s a waste of time. “Social media that only lets you talk to your colleagues is a little weird.” So instead they send an email roundup of tweets – this has raised awareness of project. (Staff are busy and sometimes need to be reminded.)

Biggest discovery is richness of staff sharing, often just happening in quiet ways.


  • survey your staff to get a baseline
  • ask about preferred delivery method
  • look for combination of tools that work for your workplace. Don’t just copy/paste from another organisation
  • don’t be afraid to make changes if/when something doesn’t work
  • Always Be Collecting Data – eg link shortener that lets you track clicks (what clicked on and from which delivery method)
  • Q: Curious about decision to not use learning management tool.
    A: Wanted it to be open, relatively unstructured. Learning management tools too closed and complex: hard to administer, have to talk to IT, staff needing to learn how to use new thing. Wanted it to be more about sharing than a formal learning process.

    Q: Were management open to this or did they have to be convinced?
    A: Technically Hugh’s part of management team but project came out of pub discussion. Talked to manager but would have done it regardless of what manager had said anyway!

    Q: Did you have to do staff training?
    A: Yes and no. A bit disappointed at takeup – but then readership stats are encouraging. Need to talk to people one-on-one to find out why they’re not using Twitter, are they using other tools. So no training yet, but will do one-on-one.
    Q: Can we reuse your content?
    A: Yes.

    Q: Have you considered a bookmarking tool like Diigo?
    A: Yeah. But gets nervous about these because has seen too many die. But could be a tool to bring in. Very easy to integrate into other platforms.

    Comment: Is a casual staff member who discovered this (without context) from link on intranet.

    Q: What about old-fashioned brownbagging it?
    A: Considered it and then got too busy. But on the ‘would be nice’ list.