Updating my UX & HCI skill set

During my Master studies I particularly enjoyed learning about digital tools for learning and communication. This was tighlty connected to research methods, and how to investigate digital learning environments with respect to their effectiveness. Now, some years later, I lead and consult projects about exactly this: developing tools which support employees in their learning and development process. I felt that it was time to update my user experience and human-computer interface knowledge and skills to become even better in my role and to have a stronger impact on the project results. That’s why I enrolled in Human-Computer Interaction as a freestanding course at Uppsala University. It was a project-based distance course, where I was able to work on my own desgin project throughout the course. I admit that I am not a born designer, but it was a valuable learning experience which inspired me both from a content and a methodical perspective.Weiterlesen »


EdTech Sweden – en konferens i tweets

Idag var det dags för en av Sveriges mest intressanta konferenser om lärande och teknologi. EdTech Sweden i Stockholm.

Jag jobbar med att definiera en genomtänkt utbildingsstrategi på ett företag. Så det här har varit ett bra tillfälle att ta in lite inspiration, knyta kontakter och få konkreta rådslag. Läs mer nedan där jag även har sammanfattat mina key takeaways med hjälp av mina och andras kloka Twitter tweets.

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Draft: 1,5 years of commuting in favorite podcast episodes

We all have different reasons for taking on hours of commuting to work every day. Usually I listen to some kind och podcast. If I like an episode particular well, I save it es favorite. A list for the big days. Today I skimmed though one and a half years of favorite episodes, covering a range of topics and languages. This reflects not only time of my life but the themes and things I enjoy hearing more about.


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Draft: How to support a language learner in social situations

Learning a new language is as exciting as it is nerve-racking. You memorize vocabulary, try to understand the grammar (and all the exceptions from the rule), read your first texts, listen to the radio. But the true challenge with language learning are the social situations. Being surrounded by people that only speak the language you are about to learn. Starting your new job where you are the first non-native colleague to join the team. Joining your target-language-native partner for the first family visit far out of your comfort zone. Which ever situation it is for you, having a person at your side for support is a great way to engage in social stations more easily.  But what is it exactly this person should support your with and how do you want to be supported in your social language learning process? Here are some guiding principles which have worked for me, as a learner and a supporter.

  1. Praise for the progress: „Wow, you speak English so well!“ sounds familiar? It’s meant as a compliment but actually most of the people saying it can only judge your ability from a specific situation they have meto you in. I stopped saying this sentence. Especially in bigger gatherings. It brings language learners in this awkward situation where everybody joins in and even the last person becomes awarw of the fact that one is non-native. Especially in these rough moments when you are so close to giving up, praising progress is worth a lot. Hearing ‚But do you remember the time you could not even pronounce ’squirrel‘ at all is gold not only in times of despair. It’s a good way to keep track of your progress through the lense of somebody else. This requires the ability to spot systematic errors paired with the ability to share these observations in a motivational way.
  2. Understanding the root-cause for not understanding something: In numerous situations I heard the same sentence all over again even though I was only missing one of the words. Or people directly translated the entire sentence inot my narive languge. This is helpful in situations where information have to travel fast. As a language learning support you are able to spot the root-cause more concretly and take it from there. Which word could be difficult and new? Does the sentence contain a special name or saying? The more time language learner and supporter spend together, the easier it is to figure that out. If you both join the same gathering, a short eye-contact and a whispered word in exchange can ease up the situation and will not stop the ongoing discussion.
  3. If you have to correct, try to do it indirectly: Correcting someone can not only be impolite but destroy the flow of a conversation. There is an easy way out. Instead of correcting the language learner who says „I remember the last time when we meet.“ say „Me too. Wasn’t that when we met at Joe’s?“. Correcting in this way has two benefits. First of all, other listerners are now able to follow and the learner hears the correct version as a direct feedback.
  4. Judge someone’s linguistic skills based on several different occasions: Speaking a language depends on your daily mood and energy level. Try not to judge somebody’s language capability from one occasion only.
  5. Decide on a translation target language in case paraphrasing does not work.
  6. Try not to adjust your speaking style of you don’t have to.

While spontaneous parties don’t prepare that much preparation, work scenarios might do. In either way, the language socialisation benefits both the learner and the supporter. It does not only teach language but communication skills.

At the workplace: For that both of the parties have to prepare (training necessary // In bigger teams, decide on distinctive roles „learner“, „socialsator“, „teacher“ // Find out and Discuss how someone can support you in social situations // At times it simply will not work out.


Using learning myths to dig into research

This sally has a double-function. Firstly, I want to bring your attention to common learning myths and secondly, how you can use these myths to start diving into the world of research. Earlier, I wrote about evidence-based and research-based HR work and how far we have come already. I still remember how hard it was for me (especially in the beginning) to embrace research papers. They were boring and I did not understand the lengthy parts about statistics which some of them entailed. Today, I am happy that I gave it a try. Because academia contributes a lot to the field of HR. There are great reviews on all kinds of areas within HR and also researcher challenges common beliefs and reveal myths. Learning more about how to read academic research give you the critical competence to be part of the discussion when other HR professionals call their practices research-based. Learning and development is an area where many professionals claim this. Unfortunately a lot of learning myths have nourished a questionable way of learning practice at school and in the workplace. It’s time to dig deeper into this.


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Applying peer-feedback at work


OK. Fine for me!

Best, Tom

Does this look familiar to you? After hours of work you put into a text or a presentation you receive five words of feedback. In the numerous online courses I participated in, peer feedback was a central part of collaborative learning. I believe that the main ideas of peer feedback can be applied at work, too.

We all know that when time is short, it’s easy to send out a simple e-mail like the one above. But on the long run, both feedback giver and feedback taker benefit more from elaborated feedback. As someone giving feedback, you have to force yourself to read and understand the work you received. And as a feedback taker, everything is better than a simple „OK“. In peer-feedback processes in online courses there are sometimes very elaborated questions you have to answer and criteria you have to rate. Here are four simple but effective questions you could answer the next time somebody asks you for feedback:


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Digital Storytelling

A reflection on a course review

I found this draft when writing my latest post about E-Learning development with Adobe Captivate. It must be roughly three years old. For the published version, I kept it the way it was. All my original thoughts are highlighted as quotes, wheras my reflections are written in the usual paragraph style.

Two weeks ago I signed in for the Coursera course „Powerful Tools for Teaching and Learning: Digital Storytelling“ (University of Houston System). Usually, that would not be worth a blog post. I have signed up for so many courses, started with the first week, thought that it did not really covered the topic I wanted to know more about and then just followed the course irregularly or came back to the course pages after it has ended already.

Still today, I enroll for a lot of online and distance courses. But I have become better in deciding before enrolling if I have the resouces to complete the course. A great learning and I would say my individual completion rates have increased.

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Erste Schritte in Adobe Captivate

Review und Alternativen zum Iversity Kurs „Interaktive Lernmodule erstellen mit Captivate 9“

Nach langem Philosophieren über Lernen, Lernumgebungen im die dazugehörige technische Unterstützung im Unternehmensumfeld möchte ich endlich einmal selbst ausprobieren. Gedankenanstoß dazu war ein Online Kurs, den ich auf Iversity gefunden habe. „Interaktive Lernmodule erstellen mit Captivate 9“ heißt der und wird vom Medienzentrum der Universität Mainz im Selbstlernmodus angeboten. Für Captivate habe ich mich entschieden, weil die Wahl auf dieses Authoring Tool in meinem Unternehmen gefallen ist. Meine anschließende eigene Recherche (zum Beispiel hier) verstärkte meinen Beschluss zusätzlich.

Startseite des Iversity Kurses „Interaktive Lernmodule erstellen mit Captivate 9“, (C) Iversity/JGU

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Looking beyond the tacit vs. explicit dichotomy to improve information technology support for knowledge management

Everybody talks knowledge sharing in corporations. I never really understood what knowledge management (KM) departments were up to. So I decided to take a course in knowledge management to learn more from both a theoretical and a practical perspective. One result was the below assignment which I modified for this blog post. It summarises my thoughts about the tacit/explicit knowledge debate and about how technology can foster knowledge and information exchange in the workplace.

The main points

  • By arguing that tacit knowledge is hard to write down but most valuable, KM departments are keen to extract knowledge from individuals in an organization. To do this, a lot of tools, methods and standards force them to literally write down all they know. I argue, that this is not the best way to share knowledge. Technological support based on this tacit/explicit dichotomy does not make knowledge sharing more effective. It only reinforces the idea of writing down knowledge in a digital environment.
  • From my perspective, knowledge is socially-constructed. Rather than beeing either tacit or explicit, knowledge becomes information as soon as it is seperated from the original knowledge-holder and the context. While this definition holds true for others in the field, I believe that the implications for KM technology support are often overlooked.
  • IT support for knowledge exchange should focus on connecting knowledgable people, enrich information by context and offer various formats for sharing information. Concrete examples could be suggestions for colleagues who have worked on similar projects, case studies (instead of „lessons learned“) and a variety of formats such as video, blog posts or forums.


Tacit vs explicit knowledge?

The difficulty with the tacit vs explicit knowledge dichotomy is that it does not highlight the relevant aspects of knowledge which are crucial in an organizational context. According to this dichotomy, tacit knowledge is difficult to write down or extract. Yet, the crucial difference does not exist between tacit and explicit knowledge but rather between knowledge and information. Explicit knowledge becomes information, tacit knowledge becomes knowledge. Without comprehending the context in which knowledge has been generated in, a receiver of the information will not be able to enhance her knowledge. Instead of placing extensive efforts on how to extract every single bit and bite of knowledge, the tasks of technology in knowledge management (KM) should be to create social connections between people and build on existing sources of information in an organization to link knowledge supply and demand. This text outlines, how moving beyond tacit-explicit-knowledge can shape more precise requirements for IT tools in knowledge management.

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