Skype much? How do we upskill fast in technology & online tools?

Updated Oct 22nd: Proposal for #Lote3, Matera 29 Oct – 3 Nov.

Content for the #unMonbook: Guide to Make Meaningful Projects Happen

I am my own resource” (Making a Living Session, Lote, Strasbourg)

A highly informal session for advice giving and sharing how we go about learning new skills and new tech tools, to use them in our work.

Keeping up with a highly flexible, but fast changing (online) environment. When working remotely and/or travelling a lot, we spend more time in skype calls than in office meetings; we have little idea about what memos are, but we circulate shared online documents or pads all the time. We have (already) gone from consumers to being ourselves producers of mass media (you tube videos : exhibit no.1). If you are living on your own skin the above, then you probably know that the pace at which new technologies and tools are used comes with a need for an ever increasing need to upskill ourselves. Working with super smart and tech savvy Edgeryders this happens to me all the time!

It’s not just a question of adaptability or flexibility, it has to do a lot with efficiency as we are racing against time (the Internet never sleeps!) and working with limited resources.

Why keep up? I would argue the investment we make to teach ourselves new tools is deeply personal. We know from Edgeryders research and past Living on the Edge sessions that the aspiration is to do work for which we are intrinsically motivated. We are learning new skills not because it says so in a job description (it seldom does if you’re not accountable but to yourself), but because we’re highly vested in our work/ project/ startup, in better supporting our team by going the extra mile to make things happen. What we gain in autonomy through lack of supervision or hierarchy, we might be losing in hand holding and step-by-step support…

Output: I’d like this session to turn into a collection of our personal strategies to deal with new (web) technology and the ways we incorporate it in our work.

Examples of things you may have learned and could share (open list, add your own…)

  • How do we go about learning:
    • video making and production? turned into a session of its own!

    • basic visual design? working with templates, remixing but also creating our own

    • interactive tools: for example for visualization and mindmapping, info graphics, crowdsourced maps… ?

    • html or php coding to tweak your website/blog?

    • free marketing tools deployed professionally? eg facebook analytics to drive more engagement

    -any other skills you learned and can tell about.

  • What strategies do you know that actually work for time management when you need to allocate learning time parallel to or simultaneously with work time?
  • Does ageing in the digital make it more difficult to catch up and how do we cope with this? As food for thought: is there an expiration date for us online workers needing to master technological tools?

I’m curious what you think and if you’re interested.. For a session like this I imagine [Ola] or [Charanya] might be, as they previously had essential input into learning and how we are equipping ourselves with skills within and outside formal learning environments. Also, maybe [Jonathan Sundqvist] has some thoughts on time management as he seems to be tracking his time on the social web?

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Crowdsourced e-book

Hey! We did something here last week. An e-book in 24h. We invited 20 experts & thought leaders on environmental issues & sustainable development. They all mentioned:

  • An aspect (that is important within the fields)

  • A few lines why that was important to think about.

  • 3 oneliner advices how people very straight forward could work with the aspect.

It’s in swedish but you get an idea if you look on the PDF.

Guess this could be adapted to how to do projects as well.

Think MethodKit for Projects that i’ve been working on could be used as a good framework for defining different learnings regarding different areas of making projects.

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Good creative format, noted!

Thanks Ola, helpful as usual!

The Pink Guide is super useful as a model for a friendly e-book thats easily legible for the outside world. I would definitely see it happening. if not for the whole Guide to Make Projects Happen, then at least for this session on upskilling in technology use, or for packetizing outputs of sessions in general. As i understand it, the resource is not just the advice in itself, it’s also the possibility to track down people who gave it, for more details.

2 cents on time management

First of all I think learning new skills, at least in the beginning takes a lot of time. At least that’s the case for me. Once you’ve mastered a foundation of said skill it’s a lot easier to build upon and thus gets easier to improve the skill. So if you’re venturing in learning a new skill from scratch as I’m sort of doing right now. I think it’s good to dedicate a big chunk of your time to just learning it

How do you work with time management? It’s a tricky question. Earlier this year while I was working I was trying to keep up learning as well. It worked to some extent, although back then I didn’t keep track of how much time I was dedicating to my learning process. I found it a bit difficult to keep myself motivated. And at the end of the working day I’d rather just slack and do other stuff.

Now I have the opposite problem, I have loads of time but not the kind of structure a job gives you. So as I started to track my time it started to give me a structure that I could follow. I could set goals and improve the amount of hours I was learning programming. At the same time it would track how many hours I was doing other things than actually learning in front of the computer.

I use the social sharing component as partly a support mechanism and partly an accountability mechanism. Every week I’ve been including the amount of learning time as well as the amount of time spent just surfing the web. Learning programming and using the browser is not mutually exclusive of course. But it’s very easy to go off at a tangent and find interesting stuff and the day just flies away.

That’s definitely a key take away; to limit yourself to as few websites as possible while you’re trying to learn. If I look at the webhistory of the last month the websites that I’ve visited less than 2 minutes are 850 websites which amounts to the total time of 8 hours. An entire working day!

So how do I actually track it all? I use a small application called “Timing” on Mac. Neat unobtrusive app that tells you how many hours you spend on either certain applications or projects of yours. I think you could derive a lot of other uses from the the data as well.

If you had the data, what questions would you ask or find out? What patterns would you look for?


it may have to do with goals, small and big

Hi Jonathan,

So key advice, although i can’t say I’m suprised, is: “limit yourself to as few websites as possible while you’re trying to learn.” I think it has a lot to do with making peace with our inner self that we aren’t multitaskers when it comes to learning, as much as we like to think we are.

So your system is working quite well? I was following your facebook updates and it seems there’s progress in that your web time is decreasing and your programming time increasing. If I were to look into the data, i think it’s not the increased amount of time learning that’s most satisfactory (though surely it’s good for accountability), it’s the achievements, like you moving from one level to another in programming, or creating an app by yourself and so on, whatever your goals are.

I was experimenting with video production and I started to play around trying to learn stuff myself, and after putting some time in it I realised it’s not getting me anywhere in terms of the result and quality i was aiming for. So resource allocation gone bad. I needed someone who knew that stuff to teach me or work alongside me to make my time investment pay off you know?

Perhaps this session would benefit more if we not only collect input from participants about the set of skills, but also the types of resources that we have experienced to work for different types of learners’ needs? going: if you work alone you need to access x,y and allocate t time; if you work with a peer, better do z, and you end up allocating t-1 time…   

Video workshop

On a specific note, anyone interested in upskiling in video production/post-production, I can organize a 1-day/ half-day workshop at LOTE for us. I’m running a 2-day workshop this weekend which should give me a good idea of what works and what doesn’t, and the curriculum is a combination of some of my own material mixed with available libre material like the excellent guides from FLOSS Manuals (Guide to Open Source Video Editing using Kdenlive). The plan is to create a curriculum for OpenTechSchool which can be used by any experienced videographer(s) to coach learners through the material. But in general I would encourage anyone to look into the OpenTechSchool model for an inspiring way to teach/learn new skills - offline, social learning using online, editable resources. Here’s a post + video I did about them a few months ago: Meet New People! Learn To Code! Eat Snacks!


Oooh awesome!

Sam, thanks for suggesting this, personally I’m jumping through the roof as I would soo very much enjoy a session like this. we can do it in the track of Upskilling (not sure you;ve been following how we intend to structure Lote). Wondering if others would embrace a hands on workshop, maybe @ilariadauria who is also working out video stuff as we speak.

I imagine it being a half day, maybe at the end of the conference, where we could work with materials filmed throughout Lote, and edit those into a Making Of Lote video. This can be a very handy occasion to learn something new and also produce a material that’s useful and fun for everyone… and make sure, like that girl was saying in your video, “people are encouraged and not jided when asking silly questions”. :slight_smile:

Would you be up for summing up your thoughts and tips into a short post and then we can spread the word and see who else is interested in the session?

I loooooove this :slight_smile:

Each new piece added to the making of LOTE3 fills me with ER energy :slight_smile: The upskilling sessions are going to be under assault!

I’m definetely in for the video session… and I already have in mind a couple of people in Matera in the videomaking scene who would learn a lot by hearing of this way of sharing skills. Right on!

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I will write up a short post on this subject early next week, after the workshop is finished.

“we could work with materials filmed throughout Lote, and edit those into a Making Of Lote video” -that sounds like a great plan!


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