Working out loud: does it help?

Last week I blogged on future online courses in the Diplomatic Academy – The brave new world of online courses – and shared the link in two ways: “externally” via a few tweets, and “internally” in my organisation via the intranet (FCO PeopleFinder).

This was a very small-scale experiment in “working out loud”.  I picked a subject which I thought was specific enough to interest FCO colleagues around the world, and general enough to interest other L&D professionals.  It is also a subject which is genuinely “live” – ie the pilot is about to be designed.  I posed three questions.  Would I get any answers or comments?  If so, would they be useful?

Well, yes on both counts:

  • I got seven comments on WordPress.  Most of these were “internal” from FCO L&D colleagues (in Brussels, Canberra and London).  But one was external, from David Goddin.
  • I had Twitter exchanges with several “external” people – Sukh Pabial, Liam Moore, John Fitzpatrick.  John works with the Government Digital Service.  I know all three.
  • I also had a couple of very useful comments on FCO PeopleFinder from Shane Dillon, whom I don’t know.

So quality rather than quantity, and only a limited exchange of ideas between the “internal” and “external” worlds, but just in the space of some short comments on a 450-word blog I got:

  • challenge (have we done market research? how well do we know our learners?)
  • creative ideas (action learning and action research, community managers)
  • reflection, examples and stories (personal experience of MOOCs, a bonded group)
  • further questions (how do we ensure diversity in closed groups?)
  • support (just by acknowledging my existence!)
  • an introduction to a new contact at GDS
  • links to some interesting resources
  • a new blog to follow
  • wider sharing by others (through retweeting, adding a hashtag)

When I added this all up, I was surprised.  That’s real value from a quick blog.  I’m encouraged to keep going.

I’ll use Working Out Loud #wol as a category on this blog.  (I remember an #ldinsight conversation where some people challenged #wol as another faddy thing – but it’s OK – I’m just using it as shorthand for “reflecting on work challenges in public”.)

So a big THANK YOU to all who commented and contributed.  I’ll keep you up to date on progress.. and bring all your comments together in a new post on online courses.



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