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Monday, April 28, 2008

Learning Objective

Through the comments in Blog Learning (itself about learning through discussions on blogs) something hit me. Stephen Downes and Jay Cross would say this is a "no duh." But I had just never formulated it this way.

The comment was roughly that this blog (eLearningTechnology)
'has significantly more than the new learner "needs" to know. '
I would hope so!

But it also made me realize that someone might come to this blog thinking that it's purpose was to help them learn. And that the core objective might be to help a "new learner."

What's the learning objective associated with this blog? I hate to be so self serving, but the objective is really to help my personal learning. To a lesser extent the learning objective is to help other people learn.

In other words, the objective of this blog is not really to try to teach the readers a particular set of things. I hope that each post offers insights into a topic. It may spark some thoughts. Cause us to have a discussion.

But what do I post about? Well it's what I found interesting at that moment and what's meaningful to me that I think might also be meaningful and useful to you.

When you boil it down, there's learning on both sides - but the intent is first to support my learning (my personal learning objectives) - I don't really know you well enough to try to support your learning in any meaningful way. That's up to you. I hope my blog is part of that.

Of course, I may have just learned something myself - and maybe you did also. :)


Harold Jarche said...

It's not that self-serving, because you have to be self-motivated to keep this going for years. I feel the same way. My blog is primarily for me, but an emergent quality is the way it helps me to connect to others and learn from them. The power of blogs is the fact that each individual cares for his or her own piece of the 'Net.

Tony Karrer said...

I'm glad you said this Harold. I was a little worried about saying this opinion out loud.

Sarah Stewart said...

I enjoyed your post and found it a timely reminder of why I blog. I think there is so much time spent on the Internet by people angsting about their numbers and audiences that they forget this very important reason for blogging. cheers Sarah

Stephen Downes said...

I get a lot of 'new learners' to my website, and I hear from them on a regular basis.

As a result, I am careful to maintain a mix of introductory material in with the more advanced material, to give people a leg up.

Anonymous said...

"Reflection on steroids" is what I've always considered blogs from a learning perspective. Anyone who is blogging for altruistic reasons really needs a slice of humble pie and, perhaps, years of therapy. And speaking of therapy, blogs are a much less expensive form of self-analysis;o) Your post is absolutely spot on. The primary purpose is for our own learning, the wonderful secondary benefit is the social connections and exchange of ideas.

Tony Karrer said...

Stephen - interesting to hear that you specifically think about that mix.

Jeff - your comment + Sarah + Harold is almost like actual therapy. I was a little worried about posting this thought. You worked me through it. Thanks.

I also like "reflection on steroids" - although we have to find another term than "on steroids" given the recent problems.

lurch said...

Can you take it a step further Tony and say what it is that you consider you learn through your blog? Providing that by doing so you think you'd learn something in the process of course

Tony Karrer said...

Lurch - as an example, by creating this post originally, I captured my thinking about the focus of this blog as a learning tool (and how people should think about learning with a blog). Through the conversation, I'm learning that it's not an issue that I'm first focused on my personal learning.

More generally, I'm not sure I can define the scope.

Anonymous said...

Like you and most of your commenters, Tony, my blog is my learning space. It is also sometimes my soapbox. But reading other people's records of and reflections on their own learning, provides me with a space in which to pursue my informal learning journey.

Most of my non-blogging colleagues think blogging is a very egotistical pursuit. My response? Just try it. Try venting your spleen to a round of indifference. Try ordering your thoughts with thought and reflection only to have them shot down in flames. As Jeff indicates, it can be a very humbling and sometimes even humiliating pursuit. When I read some of my earlier posts, I could cringe!

In response to Lurch's question, though, I would say that my learning objective is to learn whatever it is that's out there to be learnt and that catches my interesting. I followed the white rabbit down this path and I'm not really fussed about where it goes. If it takes me somewhere I don't want to go, I just stop following and try a different path for a bit. It's subjective and serendipitous and varied and unpredictable and exciting.

And, yes, I'm a geek, so sue me ;o)

Anonymous said...

If we don't get some personal value out of our blogs - then it's not a pleasure and just becomes hard work - and life's just too short guys.

I was really clear (and stated it in my first post) when I set up one blog last year and a social network only 6 weeks ago that I was motivated by both self interest (to learn, map, reflect, explore & just plain ruminate) - and - a real love of sharing information and hearing from other people.

I get all sorts of questions and feedback that show me different angles on things. People's comments have helped refine my ideas and encourage me when I am feeling overwhelmed by a project.

People who have left comments say that the blog & the network does something for them - that it triggers new thoughts and ideas for them.

I write my posts from where I am - and the comments and conversations that start as a result - can go anywhere.

I love blogging - and I'm glad there are blogs on so many topics of interest.It has a serendipity & synchronicity that appeals to me.

Tony - I have found your blog remarkably useful in helping inform me about learning tech for a project I am developing.

And - if your blog is motivated by your own need to explore and learn - then I say - let's have more of it.

Many Thanks

Anonymous said...

Tony, I thought while reading your post that I might reply via email; the other commentors have changed my mind.

I don't see "help my personal learning" as self-serving in a pejorative sense. That's like saying that trying to stay fit is self-serving.

Can it be overdone? Done wrong? Sure. I could pontificate in a blog (speaking purely theoretically, you understand); I could go overboard on fitness to the point I have no other life (alas, even more theoretical).

I've often had different takes on things you've posted. I see your posting as an invitation for me to chime in (not to straighten you out), and I've been happy for the opportunity -- because in thinking out loud, you've helped me think better as well.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tony.

Keep on blogging and put as much information as you can! I think that the people who really want to learn will sort out the stuff they need from the stuff they don't.

I personally read your blog and make the very occasional comment for my own benefit so I don't really care whether you do it for me or yourself.

I will say that when I first came across the blog, I knew very little about eLearning or blogging for that matter and while I don't have a blog I am really grateful to all of you nice people that are willing to share. It makes my learning experience all the more rich.

So to you Tony and anyone else that is prepared to put together a really useful blog like this one a big thanks.



Rina Tripathi said...

Being humans we need to communicate and when we communicate we also learn. This the very basic form of learning. I have found the most precious friends through my blog. This it self is enough. I would be life less without my two friends. Thanks for sharing and making us think!

Anonymous said...

And yes as Karyn says I can see the development curve sometimes my own words surprise me so there is growth but the feeling of sharing and helping too counts. You want to reach out someone in dstress and calm. You can relate to things these are important as these make the ultimate difference apart from the professional learning bit. At the end of the day we are humans!

V Yonkers said...

There are three reasons for writing (according to experts): to communicate, to learn or think, and to create a permanent record. You might do all three at once or you might only write for one of these reasons. However, depending on your purpose, writing will have a different effect. In addition, your perceived audience will change what and how you write.

I think many have themselves as their perceived audience, although there are also boggers that have a specific audience in mind. From your comments, it appears that you have another audience (besides yourself) in mind. What I found interesting was your comment:

"In other words, the objective of this blog is not really to try to teach the readers a particular set of things. I hope that each post offers insights into a topic. It may spark some thoughts. Cause us to have a discussion."

What I like about this bog and other blogs I subscribe to is that I can ask questions and learn new things from both yourself and those that read your blog (such as SCOPE). While I am not a "new learner" (your quotes), there are many issues you bring up that I have not heard of, while other issues seem very fundamental.
Sometimes I learn more from the "fundamental" questions than the more advanced.

Tony Karrer said...

Wow. It's funny how you can post thinking one way and get something quite different back. Thanks so much for all the comments.

And, I'm very glad to see a few new names in the comments.