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4 Free, Underused Resources that Training Department Managers and ID Professors Should Be Using

Last week I was perusing my Twitter feed and came across this little tidbit from Melissa Milloway:

It made me smile. When I recently interviewed for an instructor position for a new professional certificate program in Workplace Learning and Professional Development at the University of Washington, I actually used the idea of having students participate in Tweet Chats in response to a question. I had been asked how I could keep learning going outside of the classroom.

Here are four specific, free, underused resources that I’d recommend to every training department manager and instructional design professor:

3 Tweet Chats…

The best learning and development-focused Tweet Chats I’ve found are #chat2lrn (every other Thursday morning), #lrnchat (every Thursday evening) and #GuildChat (every Friday morning). These particular Tweet Chats bring together high profile thought leaders and every day practitioners in order to exchange ideas around hot topics in the industry.

As a learning department manager and as an instructor, I find these Tweet chats valuable because:

  1. They highlight some of the most current trends in the industry. Even if your organization isn’t yet adopting some of the trends or practices being discussed, it’s an opportunity to gauge whether you should be considering them.
  2. They expose you to many other points of view. If you’re new to the learning field or if  you work on a small team, this is an opportunity to engage in conversations you otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to consider.
  3. They challenge your own thinking. The Tweet Chat groups are generally very nice people… and sometimes participants have some very strong opinions. It’s quite common to find (respectful) disagreement among participants on any variety of issues. When this has happened to me, it’s helped me better think through why I feel a certain way about a certain practice (and whether I should consider changing my mind based upon new information!).

… And The Weekly eLearning Challenge

Articulate hosts what is arguably the most effective and vibrant online community in existence today. As part of that community, Community Manager David Anderson hosts a weekly eLearning challenge to see how various Articulate users can come up with creative ways to develop sample eLearning elements. Challenges range from creating an eLearning inspired by the question “Can you pass an 8th grade science test?” to a Super Bowl-inspired challenge to see if you can employ your eLearning instructional design skills to teach one or more football concepts.

As a manager, the weekly eLearning Challenge is a free, low pressure (and let’s face it, fun!) activity that allows staff to try something new or unique, building skills they otherwise might not have an opportunity to build in the rhythm of their current project load.

Good Managers and Professors Don’t Stop at Participation

At the end of many of these Tweet Chats, the moderator will post something like this:

Tweet Chats and Challenges can be fun, but when they’re used as professional development tools or class assignments, formal reflection should be encouraged (required?) in order to ensure these activities are a fruitful use of time. De-briefing lessons learned, asking employees or students to keep a journal of these experiences, blogging about them and/or describing how these activities translate into real-world application are all essential elements in ensuring a return on the investment.

Are you using other tools for professional development or class assignments? What’s missing? Let’s hear what you’re doing in the comment section below.

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