And here's another posting to add to the debate. This one via @jiiiii
Posted on Sep 23, 2011
I recent attended the eLearning Network event ’10 things every learning designer should know’ and whilst the event gave me a few ideas to mull over, what really had an impact on me was a chance conversation that I had during the mid-morning break, which if I’m being honest, shocked me a little and distracted me for the rest of the day.
Allow me to explain…
During the first session of the day Bryan Hopkins from UNHCR made a general reference to the fact that “people can’t possibly be learning effectively if they are tapping away on mobile devices“(paraphrased). This led to a few giggles on my table, as at that very moment I was tapping away on my iPad.
During the mid-morning break I made reference back to that incident and drew a parallel to a meeting I was in during the early Summer where everybody was taking notes, however I was the only one taking them on an iPad, whereas everybody else was taking them with pen and paper. The meeting organiser actually stopped after 10 mins and asked what I was doing; when I told (and showed) them what I was doing, they still admitted that the fact I was on a mobile device made them feel uncomfortable.
Now I had expected the people I was regaling this tale to over a cuppa to be sympathetic to my situation however I was wrong!
Instead 3 of the 4 people indicated that it would also put them off and make them question whether or not I was truly paying attention during the meeting and whether I was genuinely taking notes. We threw this around for a couple of minutes with me even pulling the old “who’s to say I’m paying attention/taking genuine notes, just because I’m using a pen and paper” but even this didn’t sway them.
I quickly popped smoke and withdrew back to the safety of the main area and discussed this back at my groups table, where, you may be surprised (or maybe not) to discover that the majority of those people also expressed doubt/concern/worry/frustration etc over people using mobile devices to take notes during learning events, meetings etc.
Had I been in any other environment than the one I was in yesterday I probably wouldn’t have been overly surprised….
… But this was an eLearning Network event!!!!
Surely eLN members would ‘get’ the advantages of using technology to aid productivity even if it wasn’t in an overtly ‘learning’ context, wouldn’t they?
And that’s what led me to this particular blog title, because it appears I was wrong.
Or was I?
Is it reasonable to expect us and our learners to use technology to aid our/their productivity in areas and in situations that have traditionally used pen and paper?
Should we maintain traditional practices for meetings but attempt to push forward with new practices when the output has an overt ‘learning’ tag attached to it?
Do you use technology to aid your personal productivity or not?
Are you encouraging/discouraging of others to do so?
Oh and for those of you who are wondering exactly what I was tapping away on my iPad for, I was producing this mindmap of the days sessions, which I am now sharing with others.
For those of you I was annoying, why not share your handwritten notes with us all?
Image sources: Click one each image to be taken to the individuals Flickr profile page.
And here's another posting to add to the debate. This one via @jiiiii
Hi Craig, Saw this today and thought of thisposting. http://www.thedrewblog.com/index.php/2011/11/03/qa-jeff-jarvis-author-speaker-pith-master/
.... So thanks for proving that it works. As you quite rightly point out, this wasn't any old traditional business or corporate but a group of people who embrace the use of technology to enhance and enrich a learners experience and add value to a business, however when it comes to using tech to aid personal productivity (and personalise an individuals learning experience) it appeared that some of them were wary of that approach. Anyway enough of this shoptalk, how are you and Shannon keeping?
Hi Tony, thanks for reading and commenting. It's very rare that anybody comments via Facebook so thaks dor
This is the exact scenario I recently experienced at a technical communications conference. I was also surprised that there were those in a techncial industry that were against the use of technology. Personally I found it very off putting NOT being able to save time by tapping away.
I used my iPhone to take notes today whilst interviewing 4 different people. I apologised 4 times and explained what I was doing when I saw the look on their faces... They didn't say anything, but you could see it
Just prompted by what Simbeck has said.
The point that everyone has their head down looking at a device just demonstrates that we have not developed the device fully yet. When we can look up at the presenter and see the digital information we desire overlaid on that live view we will be a little closer. I know it's already possible using some of the AR apps but it's not quite ready yet.
Hi Craig, a little late to the party, but just wanted to say, well done on challenging the situation and causing others think deeper about the scenario. Last year at Like Minds, with @barry sampson , I remember looking around the conference room thinking, wow, at least 60% of people have their heads down in a device for a very large section of the presentation. My gut reaction was also, is anyone listening to the speaker? Does body language no longer play a part in conveying information? How can the Speaker build a relationship without a cheeky smile or a wink? It got me thinking, why we're these people even in the room, we could have just been virtual or watching a YouTube video and making notes... I then realised something... those with their heads down, intensely concentrating, were involved in an advanced form of multi-tasking, ie, listening, deciphering, recording, sharing with occasional pauses for visual observations. The Internet and associated technological tools such as laptops and tablets have rewired us in this way and in these kind of scenario's, ie. conferences, it's becoming more than the norm... Is it a good thing? Is the human touch gone? I don't know? You know me, I love my tech toys, as you do too, but I have to say, my gut reaction was, Mmm... something ain't feeling right here... Anyhoo's take care and good luck with the move to the coast. Adios!
PS: Glad you're still using the Livefyre @jordan kretchmer :)
Hi Craig, I recently came across your blog which made me smile as I experienced the complete opposite in a network meeting I recently attended. Here is the link to my blog:
Totally agree Craig, I have been to conferences and for one reason or another I haven't got my iPad or phone, so I'll make paper based notes, when the conference is finished I fold that paper up and put it in my bag and never look at it again. Alternatively when I make notes with my iPad like you, I mind map, create links, share them, tweet them, all in all do something useful with them. I find it strange that people at an eLearning conference would question what you are doing. Oh dear maybe I'm not as good at my job as I thought, sharing the wonders of technology is obviously not getting through, lol.
We can meet our learners on their devices. Autotweet from our presentations, create a collaborative mindmap, a WallWisher. Set them up in advance, it's nothing new 'promote & maintain the desire to learn'. Just using the available, free, tech to do it.
@CraigTaylor74 Thanks for replying to my post. It is obvious that the people responding to your blog are all in favour of freedom of learning applications and I agree that there are many people higher up that do not buy into the same way of thinking. I do think there are many L&D professionals too who are not very open to welcoming these new learning technologies because it threatens the norms of classroom learning. I'm sure when new technologies were initially used, it might have seemed like a fad or trend (which was not threatening) but it is evident that learning-on-the-go is here to stay and more companies are investing significant funds into these technologies.
Also, I think there are many L&D professionals are scared of the IT-savvy nature of learning because let's face it, not all L&D professionals have a strong background in technical skills since it wasn't needed/not used as much before. I think there are those who are excited by this continuous growth and the 'unknown' and as always there will be those who are scared of the unknown because it threatens their job security and maybe even their professional skills. I don't want to get too philosophical here and imply that many L&D professionals are rethinking their purpose in life or anything; I just think the distinction between "job" and "passion" is surfacing. It is a positive movement for everyone involved.
So enough with my ramblings, what is your cunning plan of directing more attention towards the facilitator during sessions?
Hi Craig. Excellent, thought and discussion provoking piece!
I think your right!
For me, as for @WendyTagg. Personally, I need to take notes (whether it be in a meeting or a training event) to 'process' the information and relate to my relevant context. Else...what's the point? I don't let this distract me from the speaker/presenter, and I hope in doing so they always appreciate I am not being rude...on the contrary I am be respectful and really considering the subject matter.
So back the the original question - electronic notes or pen and paper. Until recently I did use pen and paper - not because I wanted to but simply because I couldn't type fast enough and had no chance of inventing my own short-hand! What I have to say (without plugging Apple) is that using an iPad and a stylus has revolutionised my note talking. No more pen and paper for me! It's a s balck and white as, either:
a) leave an event with reams of paper covered in my writing (that I may find difficult to interpret - handwritting problem!) that I cannot easily share, update or store; or
b) leave an event with an electronic note that I can easily share, update and file......(although I may still have an issue understanding my handwriting!).
Thanks for your reflections on this Craig.
My response is that we are all adults. Any speaker worth their salt would not be put out by audience members tapping away on their keyboards or tablets. If they are put out, perhaps they should reconsider their own positions. As for other audience members, unless they are severely distracted by those using their keypads, they should continue to concentrate on their own learning. What does it have to do with them anyway?
It's quite simple. If I'm interested in the talk or presentation, I will record the highlights of what is being said or attempt to summarise, and probably also share them instantly with my professional learning network through Twitter or live blogging. That's what I do at such events. If anyone wants to question my motives for this, let them. We all have different ways of meaning making. Mine, like yours is to create content that is relevant to the presentation for later reflection or for sharing with others. If I'm not interested, I won't play Farmville or check my e-mail account. I will probably just get up and leave the room.
Keep up the good work and don't be put off by those who don't quite get it yet.
Mixed views on this one as a presenter I would want to know that people were engaged with what I was delivering and would want to see eye contact, nods, smiles frowns etc so that I could guage their reaction and enter into dialogue with people if their expressions indicated that they had a question or needed clarification.
As a delegate I would want the freedom to make notes using whatever I thought was appropriate and with my appalling writing some form of electronic device would ave me time later trying to interpret what I had scribbled down at the time.
The fact that I could later share my notes via a mindmap without having to later create that mindmap is an added bonus. I guess I would eventually get used to a lack of eye contact etc if everyone was busy making electronic notes but I think I would always find it slightly disconcerting all the same.
I guess the surprising thing is that this was at an elearnining event where you might expect a more positive view of such devices but again speaker/presenter preferences are as individual as our note taking & learning preferences.
I enjoyed this post I can understand both sides but as an avid note taker I see nothing wrong with using an I-pad during a talk or meeting for this purpose. Although knowing my weakness for a quick game of angry birds I can see how this might be dangerous!
This is a really interesting debate... I'm a bit surprised at the objections to be honest...
However, my own experiences have not been exactly rational.... I feel really uncomfortable taking notes either on a PC in a computer lab, or on a laptop in a lecture/conference/etc.... BUT don't have the same thing when I do it on my iPad - this doesn't seem rational to me...
When I think about it, there might be a few reasons why....
a) My discomfort at taking notes on a laptop comes more from a feeling of guilt... I know I'm likely to get distracted, while as my iPad doesn't really do multitasking it is a lot less likely...
b) Tablets seem to be more 'open' or 'social' - again, not sure that this is rational... but I feel more like I'm participating using a tablet than using a laptop
Maybe these are just my own personal prejudices, but hey,....
I agree that people should take notes, in whatever form they like, on whatever device they like.
I’m still being old school about this – when I go to a conference or a show, I like to ‘dump the tech’ and go back to good old paper and coloured pens. Even this does not guarantee that I will be left to take my notes unimpeded. On a number of occasions I have been scribbling happily away – connecting the speaker’s ideas to my own projects, noting things to investigate further, making mad little drawings that hint at connections I haven’t figured out yet. Then ... there is a deafening hush followed by the speaker telling me, in teddy bear language, that their presentation, notes, white paper etc. will be available on line ... blah blah blah.
But ... I don’t want a copy of their talk, like @CraigTaylor74 with his Mindmap, I am already taking the information to the next level and beginning to apply it to my own needs. Undoubtedly they are trying to be helpful but they have actually: interrupted themselves, distracted their audience and embarrassed me.
(continued....) I want to raise my voice in praise of Bryan Hopkins for the courage to dare to be controversial, and maybe even a little mischievous and Devil's Advocate in his approach. I know of few who have contributed so much to corporate L&D than Bryan, and I thank him for his willingness to provoke, as well as inform. I congratulate you too, Craig for sticking to your own beliefs in the face of onsiderable peer pressure. You deserve a bit of a Kipling, so here it is, "If you can keep your heads when all around you...." (You can Google the rest).
My favourite cartoon of all time was published in the Times Education Supplement about 40 years ago. It showed a girl and a boy aged about 9 in an upstairs classroom. He had turned to her with the caution, "Don't look out of the window; she'll make you write about it".
Now before the earnest responders to your posting turn your blog into an auto da fe, or start burning books or effigies, let's put this whole matter into proportion. I was there, as you know, and I too was blogging, mind-mapping, doodling, and yes, I confess, emailing during Bryan's session, Andrew's and Gill's too. If I find some pearls of wisdom worthy of embedding in my psyche sufficient to note them, challenge them, or check associative links, then I pay the presenter as much homage and respect as if I bore into them with intense eye contact.
I have a horror of censorship of any kind, and I think there is a kind of fascism that lurks inside classrooms, and boardrooms too. It is generally born of the insecurity of the teacher/trainer/manager/faciltator. It is fed by the leader's fear of losing control and passing the power to the audience; of not being in charge of the pace, content and impact of the session.
Personally, I WANT to surrender the power; after all why should I, unilaterally accept all responsibility for the content of my session in a world where knowledge atrophies faster than ever before, and it is beyond my powers to hold everything in my head, or even in my session notes? Whatever would lead me to believe that my own wisdom added up to more than the combined expertise of 38 other professionals, just because they happen to be on the other side of the podium?
Then again, the whole matter is about managing group dynamics in general; it's situational, by which I mean sometimes the task-in-hand may depend upon group collaboration on an intimate, enquiring level that works best with eye contact and deep concentration.
Maybe it's simpy a function of teaching style and leaner personality and preferences. I wonder what Howard Gardner would say? Are the mappers and bloggers stronger on Intrapersonal than Interpersonal Intelligence using his terminology.
Daniel Goleman and the Emotional Intelligence fraternity might have a view too, and my dear old friend Howard Hills would surely find some correlation between Myers Briggs (The MBTI), and the more introspective behaviour of he blogger.
Ultimately, my abhorrence of censorship is attuned with a relentless advocacy for a fundamental human right; I refer to Freedom of Speech and Expression. If the Elearning Network or indeed your blog, ever becomes a cosy gathering of like-minded people, afraid to utter anything other than the same mantra as all their pals, then count me out. (more...)
Interesting post. I think you've unearthed a common but disturbing problem, and it's been amplified in the comments too: Just because we're comfortable using technology to communicate, doesn't mean we're comfortable with others using technology to consume our communication.
I sat next to Clark Quinn at one of the LT11UK sessions earlier this year and he was playing solitaire on his iPad throughout the whole thing. I asked him about this and he said it allows him to free his mind to listen. Sure enough, when a noteworthy point was made, he switched to a note taking app and quickly captured it.
Whilst it's true that people tap tapping on iPads and Laptops may be distracting to a speaker, as speakers we/they need to get over that quickly. Looking at the stats around 75% of students in US universities take notes using a mobile device, and they'll take that into their organisations. We need to keep up. The older ones among us need to learn the new modes of consuming.
Personally, I draw pictures on my iPad during meetings, allowing me to free my mind (a la Mr Quinn) and then note the key points on Mindnode. If I was to share all my meeting notes they'd be a mind map and a picture (and not a good one) of a tree, or a coke can, or whatever took my fancy :)
Great post and I too find it incredible that you experienced this at an ELN event of all places.
I recently experienced the same "objection" at a recent event I was at yet no such objection to those taking notes using pen &paper.
I agree you (we) are NOT wrong, those around us just haven't realised the potential yet.
Craig thanks for adding the mind map really useful as a non attendee.
I understand you paraphrase but the assumptions being made that people aren't learning effectively whilst tapping on a mobile device is one that the learning community really need to move away from - quickly!
Since when did it become all about the facilitator - I need you looking at me, centre of attention, I'm the most important person here etc etc blah blah blah. Surely it is still about the people who attend your session taking away what's important to them in a way that suits them? Or have I missed something?
Linked to this and something that stood out for me was that a number of people who said that if THEY were facilitating would question if you were paying attention by tip tap tapping on a mobile device and whether you were genuinely taking notes!! WHAT!? "No I travelled to ELN in Sheffield to play on Angry Birds". In an adult learning environment surely it is up to individuals how much attention they pay or how they pay that attention, especially at a paying event. It's up to the attendee to assimilate, process, and (share) then apply the knowledge. In university a lecturer isn't going to go round to 200 students to check they've made notes or were listening - it's up to the student!
Sounds very much like old school views of........well school.....very Parent / Child here "You will attend my class and listen attentively, use standardised methods of taking notes and will not deviate from this or be different"
For the people who are put off by the person next to them or on the same table using something other than a pen and paper it would be good to understand why? Is it the loud noise that the devices make, it is the strong light that they emit or is it a genuine misunderstanding around what the devices enable people to do and that's what actually makes you feel uncomfortable?
I use a pen and paper, my phone and my tablet or laptop in sessions depending on the setting and type of session - the point is I have a choice and choose methods that work for me and my needs.
A suggestion to ELN in the future could be on the booking form to ask people if they are going to use a mobile device in the session and arrange seating accordingly.
Something like a tick box ____ 21st century learner / ______ Other
@simbeckhampson Hi @simbeckhampson Thanks for dropping by and commenting. It seems like you've been out of the loop for aaaaaages??? I think your observation of "something ain't feeling right here" is a very honest and in my opinion accurate representation of may peoples perceptions of the move towards using tech to record, filter, publish blah, blah, blah content (including mine when I first witnessed and participated in it) however I have no doubt that with the passage of time, this will become the norm and be accepted just as pen and paper have been for many years.
I wonder if @timbuckteeth could weigh in here and direct us to the great series of quotes he regales whereby people over the centuries have decried using bark, paper, ink, biros ete etc?
@bossholt Hi @bossholt Your comment has made me look back over the dozens if not hundreds of courses I undertook when I was in the Army, which inevitably resulted in some form of physical folder being produced. That folder then got thrown in the back of a locker (if it was lucky) only to reappear when it was time to clear the lockers out. I now compare that to the events that I attend and the notes that I take and find that the ability to keep all my data in one conveniently sized, reliable place *AND* be able to syn those notes to other 'back up' areas has really improved my productivity and inevitable my learning.
I'm quite accepting that not everybody can/should/will want to use tech to support them and that's OK with me, just as long as 'my' preferred use of it is accepted by them.
A friend of mine @niallgavinuk attended #WOL11 earlier this week and after prompting an audience of 50 people to scan a QR code only 2 people raised a smartphone to do so. Now of course, this could be down to a whole host of factors such as a lack of smartphone, dead battery, lack of signal etc however I am willing to bet that a significant part of the audience had never been exposed to QR codes and thought that Niall was some sort of wizard or witch doctor for suggesting the idea, despite QR codes being very 'high street' now.
I truly believe that it is the responsibility of all of us, including conference organisers to showcase and promote the use of technologies at every opportunity that arises. Even those technologies that haven't gained traction yet, should be showcased, because until they have an audience, how will we ever know whether they could become the next big thing?
@timbuckteeth Hi Steve, thanks for the comment and support. You are of course quite right in your observation and question as to what business it is of theirs, if everybody (including the facilitator) was concentrating on the activity, content, learning etc then as long as nobody is really kicking the arse out of their tech use then it really shouldn't affect them..... Unless of course they're not concentrating/engaged/etc ;-)
If I'm feeling brave enough the next time I'm in a boring session then I may follow your advice and 'up sticks'!
@timbuckteeth Craig, for me, Steve's response sums it up so well. I spent a sleepless night (not because of this discussion, I hasten to add) and in the course of it had sort of planned a response in my mind, only to find that I'd been beaten to it this morning. Over and out :-)
@timbuckteeth Is their a 'Like' Button anywhere here?
@stevebatchelder Hi Steve, your closing comment was my point exactly. If this session had been taking place at my previous employer, then it would not have come as a surprise, but it shocked me that it came from people who 'get' the use or tech to enhance overt learning activities but did not see or support the use of it to aid personal productivity.
@pysproblem81 Hi thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this post. I wonder if the fact that a laptop requires a screen to be folded up, thus inevitable causing a 'barrier' (albeit it negligible) between yourself and the facilitator is another reasons why you prefer using a tablet?
@WendyTagg Hi Wendy, I LOL'd at your blah blah blah line. I have to admit that I very often tell people at the beginning of a session whether I am sharing any of the resources or underpinnig research and then leave it to the attendees as to what they want to do with the info.
@philipgreen Hi @philipgreen As always Phil whenever we meet, you've gone and made me learn something new dammit! I looked up auto da fe and found that it referred to a process within the Spanish inquisition with a 'burning at the stake' being the most profound aspect. I hope you weren't hinting that I was suggesting that we burned anybody at the stake???? I wouldn't dream of it...... can ou imagine the Risk Assessment involved? ;-)
I absolutely agree with your comments about any network worth it's salt being made up of individuals with individual thoughts which may or may not conflict with one another but being respectful of the opposing view, which I believe I was during #elndesigner and in the original blog post, I never once said that those people who were not using technology were behind the times or that their pen scratching the surface of the paper was distracting me from the content being delivered. Instead I was accepting of the choice that they made at that point in time and allowed them to continue without comment.
2nd lesson learnt from this (again)? If a facilitator says something I disagree with, challenge them. There and then.
Now I must shoot off as I need to prep for the October eLN event...... Now where is my papyrus......?
Your comment about @quinnovator made me smile as I have seen some of the incredibly detailed mind maps that he produces post-event, so there must be something to be said for 'freeing the mind'.
I am already seeing a large disconnect between the formal technologies that many apprentices and graduates coming into Industry are expecting in their workplace and those that are provided and I'm just talking about the likes of VLEs, videos, podcasts etc. If businesses and organisations widen that gap even further by making suggestions that personal use of tech to aid productivity is a thing to be avoided, then I suspect we are heading for a bigger problem.......
I think that it is very true that doing something with your hands does help clear the 'fidgets' from the brain that get in the way of making connections.
@mikecollins007@mike Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Having read yours and many other peoples comments (many, many times) I keep coming back to a key issue - Trust!
There appears to be a lack of trust when people are using technology "what are they doing" "are they checking emails" "are they listening to me" etc etc
These questions don't appear to materialise when traditional methods are used, I wonder why? Whatever the reason, if my 'trust' suspicion is correct then it suggest a far greater problem than a facilitator wanting to "see the whites of their eyes"?!
@memarkyb There is now!
@memarkyb Hi Mark, you know what I don't think there is...... To the plugin store..........
One additional thought that occurred to me today is that I could understand that people using laptops wold be more distracting because the screen acts as a barrier and prevents the facilitator seeing what the user is doing and may lead to objections to their use. However a tablet has no such barrier and can clearly be seen and so it is unlikely that people would be off topic if they are using a tablet and so I would have thought it would be a more acceptable form of note taking almost like pen and paper!
I think there could be a lot in this.... It is probably easier to have eye-contact while using a tablet than while using a laptop - personally I think notetaking on a tablet and using pen & paper is probably similar for me (and I'm more likely to be able to read the notes I taken on my pad.....)
I think it is good to tell the audience at the beginning and remind them at the end - it's interupting the flow to fulfil a non-existant need that is troublesome ... and you've started something here, haven't you?!
Maybe if it is a trust issue then we need to figure out how to tackle that - both as presenters and as attendees. How about:
1. attendees - eyes-up often enough to keep 'in touch' with the presenter
2. organisers - screens with # backchannel comments streaming by
3. presenters - a space for sharing - that goes both ways - i.e not just the presenters notes, but everyone else's notes/links too
Any of that grab anyone?
@WendyTagg Av I eva, I dint do vis much writin at skool
It was actually an event promoting my own organisation where there was actually a presentation re our VLE, yet they objected to my use of an iPad for note taking. Just wait till I suggest backchannel use in my strategy document!
@CraigTaylor74 @stevebatchelder Glad you like the shared space idea - it would be really nice to get this sort of genuine sharing going. I find that when I attend these events there is a great pressure to hand over my email address, which inevitably ends up with the sales team, who then send endless spamfantastic emails. Mutual sharing is much more attactive in so many ways.
@WendyTagg Hi Wendy, I particularly like the idea around point No 3 that you make..... in fact you've given me an idea for the next time I speak...... cheers!