This is the first blog post from Flourish Learning Limited so it’s appropriate that we use it to set the scene, giving you an overview of how we view the world of work and what inspires us.
The contributors to a recently published book from 99U ‘Maximize Your Potential’ (Glei, 2013) have fired our imagination because they communicate their passion for learning and personal growth that resonates with us. The book gives a good rational for being adventurous and bold and encourages you to step outside your comfort zone. As we are operating at the conflux of professional development and technology we often see staff who are in need of direction and support because they are nervous of taking risks with technology.
Robert Safian (one of the contributors in the book) has coined the phrase ‘world of flux’ to describe the context we operate in. Just as it is better to be flexible when all around you is moving, you should also be willing to bend, sway and adapt when it comes to developing and using professional skills. Staff need to be experts who are ‘constantly open to new areas of learning and new areas of growth’ and who have little tolerance for stagnation’.
Although it is quite easy to recognise the need for developing new skills, how does this translate in the world of education and professional development? How do you even discover new ways of working and then implement what you have learnt?
Glei in another chapter urges us to ‘explore new technologies with enthusiasm’ because ‘the tools you use today will not be the tool you use in the future’. This highlights the need to develop attributes as opposed to a skill with a specific piece of technology or software. To thrive in education or the workplace successfully in the ‘world of flux’ you need ‘mastery of how technology in general works’.
What attributes are needed then to operate effectively and efficiently? It may surprise you that first on our list is your need to be attuned to the risks of using technology to enhance your practice. Who has access to your data and how are you sharing it? What plans have you got in place if things go wrong? You may find using social networking sites ideal at the moment but what if the terms and conditions change – what next for you and your audience/learners?
Second you need to master the art of using technology to effectively and efficiently communicate with your learners and colleagues online. This means being sensitive to the language you are using, who will be receiving it and when. One thing we know for certain is that people are accessing the internet at all times of day and night, from all corners of the globe. One inappropriate joke sent in haste can have repercussions that you were unaware of when you sent it. This is a lesson being learnt over and over by thousands every day. Don’t be one of them.
Third you need to think about using technology imaginatively for the important pieces of work that you are engaged in. Are you using technology creatively to run your annual appraisal process, or to assess your learners? If not, why not? There will be many barriers if you are a single voice advocating change in a big department, but that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate the status quo. Diplomatically start to question why certain processes are in place.
Importantly become familiar with copyright, creative commons licenses and intellectual property rights. You don’t have to get a law degree to become familiar with this area but there is no excuse for being ignorant of the law and misusing someone else’s work. This overlaps with the next point.
Finally be aware of all the freely available tools and content you can legitimately draw upon and re-use.
How do you go about developing these attributes? Again the answers are in this book. Don’t aims to start all areas at once, try to focus on one attribute per month and embed it in your everyday habits. If this seems like a lengthy way of achieving these attributes, just think, in five months’ time you will be ready to operate with confidence and passion in the world of flux.
Glei. J. (ed) 2013, Maximize Your Potential. Lake Union Publishing