F2F Event + Social Networks = Increased Likelihood of Richer Connections

January 4, 2008

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

I have this horrible tendency to close the door on what was old and move on. School, jobs, neighbors, etc. And I feel real bad about it.

At a workshop in North Carolina last month one attendee I was having breakfast with told me it was a trait of Scorpios (which I am). I looked it up.

“Part of the negative side of the Scorpio nature is a tendency to discard friends once they cease to be useful, but the decent native is aware of, and fights this tendency.”

Geesh. Cease to be useful? Sounds like an old shoe.. I guess if I ever gave up this platform (blogging) for communicating, you’d all be old shoes. Old Manolo Blahniks of course because you are all so very classy : )

Social Networks are Scorpio-friendly. They foster relationships and help you make and keep connections.

One example of this was an interview I conducted for the Qualitative Research class I took this past semester. I interviewed someone who attended our IiL07 conference in an effort to explore her experiences with the online community portion of the event. (We used Leverage Software and a Facebook group to support the conference).

She explained how at past face-to-face (f2f) events she ended up with a stack of business cards that went nowhere after she got home because she got busy with work. However, with online social networking she is staying in touch and feels this online element increases the likelihood of staying in touch with the people she met. The ‘tendency to discard’ is less likely. The effort it less.

Connections are a beautiful thing to support lifelong learning – a trait we hope our learners develop. What better way to continue the conversation- to continue learning – than to stay connected.

You may want to consider how social networks can work for those one-time events you coordinate at your organization – especially those that include people outside of your organization. Shortsighted maybe, but I never used them in conjunction with a one-time face-to-face event made up of people who seemed not to be otherwise connected. I imagined social networks being used in organizations more for established work groups (everybody in this department), for projects involving people across work groups (for those working on this new implementation), for those with shared roles (leadership), and for those working through a specific curriculum (bootcamp for newbies).

For example, I once coordinated a group event (that included some training) for a group of claims adjusters who were periodically called into service for a catastrophe – hurricanes, etc. This was a group from various companies, geographic locations, and levels of experience. I guess looking back my shortsightedness came from working in a closed environment. Outsiders (those that didn’t work for the company) were connected to the organization by email cc’s and that’s about it. Think how much employees would have learned from experts in the area of handling catastrophes had there been a community. And, it would have been therapeutic for working under those high stress conditions.

The increased sense of connectedness that has been suggested by the research around blended learning provides some credibility. Although my qualitative research project was not full-scale and by no means can be considered definitive, it does provide some interesting avenues for further research.

Perhaps this is all no-brainer stuff but with 1/3 of corporations blocking social networking sites like Facebook, bringing online social networking in-house is probably one of those battles you want to pursue even if you have to look for a behind-the-firewall solution.

  • http://in-the-middle-of-the-curve.blogspot.com/ Wendy

    You know – I have the exact same tendency. Not necessarily because I want to discard them so much as the combination of getting caught up in life and fear that they won’t remember me / rejection.

    Maybe this might finally solve my problem with how to use facebook……

  • http://in-the-middle-of-the-curve.blogspot.com/ Wendy

    You know – I have the exact same tendency. Not necessarily because I want to discard them so much as the combination of getting caught up in life and fear that they won’t remember me / rejection.

    Maybe this might finally solve my problem with how to use facebook……

  • http://in-the-middle-of-the-curve.blogspot.com/ Wendy

    You know – I have the exact same tendency. Not necessarily because I want to discard them so much as the combination of getting caught up in life and fear that they won’t remember me / rejection.

    Maybe this might finally solve my problem with how to use facebook……

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    Yes, I see what you mean. Especially if a little too much time has gone by. My two friends from two different classes I took last semester who are now friends on Facebook is a good example. I guarantee if I see them on campus in the spring, I’ll say ‘hi’ and chat. Other people from I class I might hesitate saying ‘hi’ to because I’m afraid they won’t remember me. Of course being over analytical, I start to wonder about chatting with those people I’m kind of friends with on Facebook…do I say, hey, did you ever work out your New Year plans (that you were providing ongoing status updates on)? Feels kind of stalkerish….at least it increases the likelihood of ongoing conversations with many different people. We can only be richer for that.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    Yes, I see what you mean. Especially if a little too much time has gone by. My two friends from two different classes I took last semester who are now friends on Facebook is a good example. I guarantee if I see them on campus in the spring, I’ll say ‘hi’ and chat. Other people from I class I might hesitate saying ‘hi’ to because I’m afraid they won’t remember me. Of course being over analytical, I start to wonder about chatting with those people I’m kind of friends with on Facebook…do I say, hey, did you ever work out your New Year plans (that you were providing ongoing status updates on)? Feels kind of stalkerish….at least it increases the likelihood of ongoing conversations with many different people. We can only be richer for that.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com Janet Clarey

    Yes, I see what you mean. Especially if a little too much time has gone by. My two friends from two different classes I took last semester who are now friends on Facebook is a good example. I guarantee if I see them on campus in the spring, I’ll say ‘hi’ and chat. Other people from I class I might hesitate saying ‘hi’ to because I’m afraid they won’t remember me. Of course being over analytical, I start to wonder about chatting with those people I’m kind of friends with on Facebook…do I say, hey, did you ever work out your New Year plans (that you were providing ongoing status updates on)? Feels kind of stalkerish….at least it increases the likelihood of ongoing conversations with many different people. We can only be richer for that.

  • http://cle.uh.edu/resources/twt Greg

    Don’t these other people have to use Facebook before you could hold on to them? Do most claim adjusters log into Facebook? I have tried Facebook but I don’t get it. (I want to get it, but I just don’t.) Would this work for people over the age of 23?

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    Hi Greg-
    Good points.

    Re: Facebook, yes you would have to use Facebook (join & participate) to realize any benefit (as you would have to in any other social network) and I don’t think most claim adjusters log into Facebook because over two-thirds of organizations block such sites (read, not confirmed).

    However, Facebook-like applications behind the firewall could provide the benefits discussed in this post and its subsequent comments.

    Nearly all of my Facebook friends are over 40 (or at least look it ; ) and nearly all are in the education space. So I’m not using it to “entertain myself” as suggested by Professor Wesch who is responsible for the ‘visions’ video (via your Visions of Students Today post). I use it almost exclusively for business and school rather than personally. I’m using it to create lasting relationships with those who share my professional interests and who I will probably never meet f2f.

    So, based on my experience, I do think it (the social network) may work in organizations for those over 23 especially when it is relevant – when it is not used solely to entertain.

    Wesch says,

    …it is our job as educators to explore what techniques are most effective and to try to generate new, more effective techniques.

    and

    How can we recreate the learning environment in a way that encourages students to do things that creates the learning we hope to inspire? How can we create a learning environment that encourages students to ask critical questions and become adept at filtering, analyzing, and organizing the masses of information now penetrating our environment? And how can we inspire students to ultimately create high quality information and knowledge themselves? I see enormous potentials for new technology to help us in this regard. But I also see ways in which the technology could be used to reproduce and even magnify the failings we see in our education system today.

    This to me is his primary message. We explore what is new to see if it’s better. If it’s not better, we move on. Facebook is one such thing among many (Skype, Second Life, blogs, wikis, etc.).

    I wonder if Wesch has uncovered (or completed) some research that support comments about digital natives. This one I like because it supports why we need to work with new digital environments:

    They may be learning about this digital information environment despite us, but they are not reaching the levels of understanding that are necessary (MINE: problem, but who says they are not?) as this digital information environment becomes increasingly pervasive in all of our lives. All of the classic skills we learned in relation to a print-based information universe are important, and must now be augmented by a critical understanding of the workings of digital information (MINE: solution, but who says it’ll be better?).

    This is why need to understand. Why we need to make every attempt to ‘get it.’ I’m still trying to ‘get’ Twitter’ as others have.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    Hi Greg-
    Good points.

    Re: Facebook, yes you would have to use Facebook (join & participate) to realize any benefit (as you would have to in any other social network) and I don’t think most claim adjusters log into Facebook because over two-thirds of organizations block such sites (read, not confirmed).

    However, Facebook-like applications behind the firewall could provide the benefits discussed in this post and its subsequent comments.

    Nearly all of my Facebook friends are over 40 (or at least look it ; ) and nearly all are in the education space. So I’m not using it to “entertain myself” as suggested by Professor Wesch who is responsible for the ‘visions’ video (via your Visions of Students Today post). I use it almost exclusively for business and school rather than personally. I’m using it to create lasting relationships with those who share my professional interests and who I will probably never meet f2f.

    So, based on my experience, I do think it (the social network) may work in organizations for those over 23 especially when it is relevant – when it is not used solely to entertain.

    Wesch says,

    …it is our job as educators to explore what techniques are most effective and to try to generate new, more effective techniques.

    and

    How can we recreate the learning environment in a way that encourages students to do things that creates the learning we hope to inspire? How can we create a learning environment that encourages students to ask critical questions and become adept at filtering, analyzing, and organizing the masses of information now penetrating our environment? And how can we inspire students to ultimately create high quality information and knowledge themselves? I see enormous potentials for new technology to help us in this regard. But I also see ways in which the technology could be used to reproduce and even magnify the failings we see in our education system today.

    This to me is his primary message. We explore what is new to see if it’s better. If it’s not better, we move on. Facebook is one such thing among many (Skype, Second Life, blogs, wikis, etc.).

    I wonder if Wesch has uncovered (or completed) some research that support comments about digital natives. This one I like because it supports why we need to work with new digital environments:

    They may be learning about this digital information environment despite us, but they are not reaching the levels of understanding that are necessary (MINE: problem, but who says they are not?) as this digital information environment becomes increasingly pervasive in all of our lives. All of the classic skills we learned in relation to a print-based information universe are important, and must now be augmented by a critical understanding of the workings of digital information (MINE: solution, but who says it’ll be better?).

    This is why need to understand. Why we need to make every attempt to ‘get it.’ I’m still trying to ‘get’ Twitter’ as others have.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com Janet Clarey

    Hi Greg-
    Good points.

    Re: Facebook, yes you would have to use Facebook (join & participate) to realize any benefit (as you would have to in any other social network) and I don’t think most claim adjusters log into Facebook because over two-thirds of organizations block such sites (read, not confirmed).

    However, Facebook-like applications behind the firewall could provide the benefits discussed in this post and its subsequent comments.

    Nearly all of my Facebook friends are over 40 (or at least look it ; ) and nearly all are in the education space. So I’m not using it to “entertain myself” as suggested by Professor Wesch who is responsible for the ‘visions’ video (via your Visions of Students Today post). I use it almost exclusively for business and school rather than personally. I’m using it to create lasting relationships with those who share my professional interests and who I will probably never meet f2f.

    So, based on my experience, I do think it (the social network) may work in organizations for those over 23 especially when it is relevant – when it is not used solely to entertain.

    Wesch says,

    …it is our job as educators to explore what techniques are most effective and to try to generate new, more effective techniques.

    and

    How can we recreate the learning environment in a way that encourages students to do things that creates the learning we hope to inspire? How can we create a learning environment that encourages students to ask critical questions and become adept at filtering, analyzing, and organizing the masses of information now penetrating our environment? And how can we inspire students to ultimately create high quality information and knowledge themselves? I see enormous potentials for new technology to help us in this regard. But I also see ways in which the technology could be used to reproduce and even magnify the failings we see in our education system today.

    This to me is his primary message. We explore what is new to see if it’s better. If it’s not better, we move on. Facebook is one such thing among many (Skype, Second Life, blogs, wikis, etc.).

    I wonder if Wesch has uncovered (or completed) some research that support comments about digital natives. This one I like because it supports why we need to work with new digital environments:

    They may be learning about this digital information environment despite us, but they are not reaching the levels of understanding that are necessary (MINE: problem, but who says they are not?) as this digital information environment becomes increasingly pervasive in all of our lives. All of the classic skills we learned in relation to a print-based information universe are important, and must now be augmented by a critical understanding of the workings of digital information (MINE: solution, but who says it’ll be better?).

    This is why need to understand. Why we need to make every attempt to ‘get it.’ I’m still trying to ‘get’ Twitter’ as others have.

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  • http://www.daveswhiteboard.com/ Dave Ferguson

    I agree that it’s important to what’s new to see if it’s better. The key is, better for what? Your corporate examples are good: if I’m able to work more effectively with partners in other groups (and maybe even with clients), that’s clearly better — though I need to be able to recognize “more effective” when I see it.

    That last quote from Wesch (in comment 4) has a lot of meat to it. In the first part, it seems to me he’s saying the equivalent of “it’s one thing to learn HTML; it’s another thing to build a webpage that does something for you in a new way.”

    For me the aha moment early in my CBT career was the first working section of a course, when I’d mastered the coding sufficiently that the author component became simply a tool, one that offered me immense possibilities not just for “answer analysis” but for delivering highly specific feedback that would help a person learn.

    The pessimistic side of me, alas, resonates with his remark that technology can “reproduce and even magnify the failings we see in our education system today”

    I don’t think that’s inevitable, but in some organizational settings it’s as likely as excessive CEO compensation.

  • http://www.daveswhiteboard.com/ Dave Ferguson

    I agree that it’s important to what’s new to see if it’s better. The key is, better for what? Your corporate examples are good: if I’m able to work more effectively with partners in other groups (and maybe even with clients), that’s clearly better — though I need to be able to recognize “more effective” when I see it.

    That last quote from Wesch (in comment 4) has a lot of meat to it. In the first part, it seems to me he’s saying the equivalent of “it’s one thing to learn HTML; it’s another thing to build a webpage that does something for you in a new way.”

    For me the aha moment early in my CBT career was the first working section of a course, when I’d mastered the coding sufficiently that the author component became simply a tool, one that offered me immense possibilities not just for “answer analysis” but for delivering highly specific feedback that would help a person learn.

    The pessimistic side of me, alas, resonates with his remark that technology can “reproduce and even magnify the failings we see in our education system today”

    I don’t think that’s inevitable, but in some organizational settings it’s as likely as excessive CEO compensation.

  • http://www.daveswhiteboard.com Dave Ferguson

    I agree that it’s important to what’s new to see if it’s better. The key is, better for what? Your corporate examples are good: if I’m able to work more effectively with partners in other groups (and maybe even with clients), that’s clearly better — though I need to be able to recognize “more effective” when I see it.

    That last quote from Wesch (in comment 4) has a lot of meat to it. In the first part, it seems to me he’s saying the equivalent of “it’s one thing to learn HTML; it’s another thing to build a webpage that does something for you in a new way.”

    For me the aha moment early in my CBT career was the first working section of a course, when I’d mastered the coding sufficiently that the author component became simply a tool, one that offered me immense possibilities not just for “answer analysis” but for delivering highly specific feedback that would help a person learn.

    The pessimistic side of me, alas, resonates with his remark that technology can “reproduce and even magnify the failings we see in our education system today”

    I don’t think that’s inevitable, but in some organizational settings it’s as likely as excessive CEO compensation.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    Dave- your comments made me think of a sticky note I kept at my computer when designing…”But is it better?” I was at some event listening to a speaker I no longer can remember and that point really resonated. So, I kept it and I think it often kept me on track. thanks for your comments.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com Janet Clarey

    Dave- your comments made me think of a sticky note I kept at my computer when designing…”But is it better?” I was at some event listening to a speaker I no longer can remember and that point really resonated. So, I kept it and I think it often kept me on track. thanks for your comments.

  • http://www.daveswhiteboard.com/ Dave Ferguson

    Janet:

    I’m glad you made sense out of my nearly-incomprehensible first sentence, which should have begun “important to LOOK AT what’s new…”

    As with most technologically-based changes since the first teaching machines, I see some tendency of early adopters to clamber onto (or ahead of) bandwagons, which is their role. But they clamber off just as quickly. Just yesterday someone dismissed social networks as “SO dead” because of whatever glimmer on the horizon was energizing her.

    Your “is it better?” sticky note reminded me of my insight that the worst CBT course you’d even design would be your second one. With your first, you’re learning how to operate whatever tool you’re using. With your second (for “your” read “my”), you throw in every special effect, sound, image, technique. By the time you hit your third course, you’ve probably sobered up.

  • http://www.daveswhiteboard.com/ Dave Ferguson

    Janet:

    I’m glad you made sense out of my nearly-incomprehensible first sentence, which should have begun “important to LOOK AT what’s new…”

    As with most technologically-based changes since the first teaching machines, I see some tendency of early adopters to clamber onto (or ahead of) bandwagons, which is their role. But they clamber off just as quickly. Just yesterday someone dismissed social networks as “SO dead” because of whatever glimmer on the horizon was energizing her.

    Your “is it better?” sticky note reminded me of my insight that the worst CBT course you’d even design would be your second one. With your first, you’re learning how to operate whatever tool you’re using. With your second (for “your” read “my”), you throw in every special effect, sound, image, technique. By the time you hit your third course, you’ve probably sobered up.

  • http://www.daveswhiteboard.com Dave Ferguson

    Janet:

    I’m glad you made sense out of my nearly-incomprehensible first sentence, which should have begun “important to LOOK AT what’s new…”

    As with most technologically-based changes since the first teaching machines, I see some tendency of early adopters to clamber onto (or ahead of) bandwagons, which is their role. But they clamber off just as quickly. Just yesterday someone dismissed social networks as “SO dead” because of whatever glimmer on the horizon was energizing her.

    Your “is it better?” sticky note reminded me of my insight that the worst CBT course you’d even design would be your second one. With your first, you’re learning how to operate whatever tool you’re using. With your second (for “your” read “my”), you throw in every special effect, sound, image, technique. By the time you hit your third course, you’ve probably sobered up.

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  • http://cle.uh.edu/resources/twt Greg

    Don't these other people have to use Facebook before you could hold on to them? Do most claim adjusters log into Facebook? I have tried Facebook but I don't get it. (I want to get it, but I just don't.) Would this work for people over the age of 23?

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