Why Your Learning Event Needs Twitter

Twitter training, Technology Speaker, Social Media Expert, Gina SchreckMost consider Twitter a marketing tool, or probably more accurate is that most consider Twitter a tool for blathering about what you are watching on television or eating for lunch, but I believe it is one of the best learning and post conference accountability tools I have seen.

I recently spoke at a marketing conference that did not set up a hashtag for the conference.  As soon as the conference was over… it was over.  I did get messages from individuals with questions and some just wanting to share their excitement for implementing new techniques learned at the conference, but what was sad, was the fact that these messages were just between the two of us.  There was not a system set up to allow everyone to share their new knowledge and continue learning from each other.

By contrast there are conferences that create a knowledge sharing community before the event even begins and it helps to connect people, allow them to share information with other attendees during the conference (both physical and remote attendees) and once connected, the community continues to share and learn well beyond the event.

So what is the best way to set up your conference community?

1. Create a short tag (# Hashtag) that you and attendees will use to group all tweets. The shorter the tag, the better since it has to fit within the 140 character tweet.  To check availability of a certain tag go to http://Search.Twitter.com and type in your desired tag to see if anyone is already using it.  Many use initials combined with the year (example #NSA10  or #Devlearn10) but keep it short.

2. Register your hashtag. By registering your tag, people can learn more about your event, the producers of the event and how they can participate. Go to Twubs (https://twubs.com/p/register-hashtag) and fill in as much info as possible.

3. Inform your group of the hashtag and encourage them to use it in every tweet that relates to the event or that they want to share with people from the event.  You may want to create a short video explaining this. You may also want to share tips on using sites like TweetChat to pull only your tagged tweets, or how to set up TweetDeck or Hootsuite with a column for your event tweets.

4. Facilitate the discussion but don’t take over. You can start with some great questions to initiate conversation or post helpful information that attendees will find useful and then let the community continue.

Remember, you are creating a learning and sharing community that should go beyond the one day event.  Here’s to BIG ON-GOING learning!


Session Notes & Links from ASTD (American Society for Training & Development)

Thank you to all the FABULOUS learners at ASTD’s international convention in Chicago.  Here is a recap of my session with links and a few of my slides and side rants (thrown in for your entertainment value!).

The title of my session was, “Using Today’s Technology for the Game of Learning!”

If our goal is to engage learners and make learning fun again, it may be time to look for ways to take learning OUT of the classroom and put it into the hands (and devices) of the learners.  Let’s get them involved in the process, from telling us what they need, to co-creating content for BIG FUN learning.  In order to involve our learners, we have to be willing to step off of our thrown …or podium and remember that WE are smarter than ME!


Repeat after me, “I will not stand in front and read BORING powerpoint slides to my audience as if they were mindless idiots!”  That mantra, repeated daily, will help you shift from standing up and dumping information to truly engaging the brains of the people in your audience.  There are technology tools that can help engage, teach and even thrill your teams as they are learning …even outside the classroom walls BEFORE and AFTER a learning event!

WHY should you worry about changing the way training is delivered in your organization?  Well part of it has to do with the fact that our learners have changed!  We have 1-yr olds trading stock on e*trade for goodness sake.  They are tech-savvy, impatient, have ADHD, and they have a lot to contribute!  Here are some statistics:

We need to use some of the tools that are already in the pockets, purses and backpacks of our learners (and I’m not talking about bandaids, chewing gum or tweezers here!).

One of my favorite tools is the fabulous FLIP camera. Get creative and get others in the driver’s seat creating content!  Involve customers, vendors, and of course employees!  Some of the ideas shared included giving sales teams cameras and having them create a 5 minute learning video to teach the other teams about a new product roll-out.  Have a few of your best customers create a short video showing a “Day in the life” of that customer to show your customer service teams what it is like in your customer’s world.  Have executive teams or senior members of the organization share 3 things they know now that they wish they would have known when they first started in the industry or at your company.  These learning videos can be loaded on your own website or on sites such as YouTube or Vimeo (both set to private).

Create podcasts within your organization (simple audio recordings saved as MP3 files).  Interview team members and capture their knowledge to share with others.  Download audio books and have them available on MP3 player for people to check out.  And for those of you concerned about the risks and hazards of having these tech tools available to employees, LET IT GO! Reading your training manuals can give people paper cuts and looking at boring Powerpoint can cause brain damage so this is much safer and less expensive than those worker’s comp claims.


We discussed ways to take geo-tagging apps used for marketing or games such as FourSquare or GoWalla and create learning treasure hunt games.  You could leave envelopes at different locations with blog posts or articles in them for learners to find using a geo-location list you give and their mobile devices.  By adding the element of competition you will turn learning into a fun and fast-paced race to learn!  This is very much like the popular geocaching game for treasure hunters, only the real treasure in your hunt is big nuggets of learning!



For another dimension of fun, you can use augmented reality tools such as LAYER to embed pieces of information or content from your learning programs into specific locations.  By tagging the content to the location, you can send participants out on a hunt for information using mobile devices.




With barcode scanner apps on many of today’s mobile devices, look for ways to add 2-dimentional bar codes on objects that will provide more information to learners.  You can place barcodes on walls within a building that bring the company’s story to life, or provide safety tips to learners.  This picture shows a barcode placed on a tombstone that brings up information on the deceased.  You can create your own content-loaded QR tag at http://QRtag.net – go ahead and try it–it’s FREE!  I think I will be making a t-shirt with a tag on it that takes people to my website :))  How can you use this?

With iPads, ipods, smart phones, Kindle readers, and more gadgets popping up daily, make a commitment to learn more about these new mobile learning tools, and do share your ideas here for the rest of us because WE are smarter than ME!

Be sure and check out the SocialKNX on Facebook where I always share tech tips for BIG learning and building BIG biz.  I encourage folks to post questions there or their own GREAT tech tips!

It was great meeting so many wonderful people this week at ASTD and I look forward to more BIG learning and BIG success stories!

President & Digital Immigration Officer
Synapse 3Di

Daily Time-Travel in Today’s School

Most kids put away their futuristic tools each morning and enter a time machine to go back to a past that is more and more unfamiliar and irrelevant to them.  We call it school.   They enter a classroom that looks much like the classrooms of yesteryear, to learn from teachers who are unfamiliar with the future tools or how they are used in the new digital landscape.  Many parents of these same children avoid teaching them how to use the new tools out of fear, frustration and intimidation.  Where will they go to prepare for their future?  Who will lead them?

Wikis, blogs, Google docs, geo-tagging, social and mobile applications, are just a few of the tools that today’s kids use… outside the classroom.  They find it odd that they’re told to look through old books for answers when Google has the latest information.  They can’t talk with others in class about the answers to a test but as soon as they leave school they collaborate with a global team to solve more complex problems in a 3D immersive gaming environment.   

Just do a Google search for “Layoffs in schools” to see that hundreds of thousands of teachers will lose their jobs this year and next. Sadly, many of the younger, tech-savvy teachers are first to go and many of the tenured teachers feel as is the digital divide has turned into a digital canyon that has them on the wrong side.  These difficult times call for creative and radical solutions.

As Dorothy said, “We are not in Kansas anymore!”  We have entered a new digital landscape that requires innovative thinking.  We need to turn everything on its head to find creative solutions, such as reverse-mentoring, where students become the teacher, where teachers become coaches, applying tried wisdom to new problems.  We need tools that blow the walls off of classrooms and take the students into environments that look more like the collaborative settings they enjoy when they leave school.

It’s time to ignite the desire for everyone to take action; to change what we know today as “school” and to become more innovative than ever before!  We must seek new and creative ways to use more technology tools in our classrooms to prepare students for their future.  We must all realize that he tools that built our past will not work to build our future.  As learners, we must enter that time machine and go back to the future, where collaboration and teaming skills are critical.

If you had to start from scratch, what would you do different?

It’s about BIG learning! It’s about change. It’s about time!


Adventures in Technology with Explorers, Skeptics and Cowards

There have always been explorers, from Magellan, Columbus, and Amelia Earhart to modern day adventurers like Robert Young Pelton, John Goddard and Jeff Corwin. And for every explorer there is a crowd of people shouting, “You are wasting your time! You are chasing a delusion! You are following a path to destruction…” (Okay, never mind, that was what my friends and colleagues have said to me!) Skeptics abound where explorers dare to dream, and the other crowd that gathers is the cowards. Those are the ones who say they will go AFTER the path is laid, After the path has been proven safe and AFTER there is a safe number of other cowards to walk with.

Exploring new business models or learning methods is no different. It takes an explorer to go first, to try new technologies, to dare to fail…or succeed! How many times have we heard, “Twitter is dead!” “No one will ever attend a serious business meeting or class in a virtual 3D environment!” “Facebook is on its way out and it is not a business tool!”? More times that we can count. The future depends upon those who will venture out into unchartered waters. Those who embrace the unknown or unproven to try something so radically different that others whisper as they walk by, “She’s the crazy one who has students using their cell phones in class!” “He’s the one who gives his product away for free and thinks he will make money…and what’s up with a name like Google?”

Last week I spoke at an event on a technology panel and a woman approached me after and said, “Isn’t all of this just hype? I mean Facebook is for teens to play games and talk about hating their parents. Businesses shouldn’t be wasting their time with these when there is real work to be done.” After I suggested anger management classes to her, I started to explain that we can no longer do business the way we used to do, and the new world of business requires new tools and then I stopped. I realized she would not be persuaded by such a lunatic as I. She would need to wait safely on that other side of the digital CANYON for the next covered wagon to come and get her. Ironically, that same day we read that Facebook reached an important milestone for the week ending March 13, 2010 and surpassed Google in the US to become the most visited website for the week. Yep, sounds like a waste of time for sure.

What waters must you cross to reach the new world in your business? Who is telling you it can’t be done? Who is saying they won’t follow you? Remember, the future is already here, but only the explorers are bold enough to enjoy it! There are oceans of opportunities waiting…are you an explorer, skeptic or coward?


Share your thoughts on exploring new worlds in your business or industry. Where is going? What are you doing to prepare?

Twitter: @GinaSchreck
Facebook: Gina Schreck
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Using Productive Failure to Learn BIG

No more reading about “how to use today’s technology.”  It’s time you try a little productive failure in order to start moving forward.  Ok bare with me here as I go a little academic on you  Remember, after all, I am first an educator and communicator with with a thin layer of Goofy Geekiness to help the learning go down.  (Kind of like the sugar-coating over a valium– meant to keep you awake to learn something and then it will seep down into your brain as you sleep.) Hmmm I digress, but I see a new marketing slogan coming!

Back to productive failure.  Michael J. Jacobson, Professor and Chair of Education at The University of Sydney, is an international expert in the fields of the Learning Sciences and Computer Supported Collaborative Learning.  He is one of the top researchers exploring learning in the world of 3D virtual reality.   Jacobson says students learn more if allowed to do something challenging where they will most likely have a hard time being successful.  When they cannot do it, students are engaged and guided through ways to solve the problem.  Sure it’s setting them up for failure, but it’s productive failure.

Recently I took a video-editing class at the Apple store, where I got my MAC, and realized that I had engaged in productive failure to make a huge leap in my learning.  I had been playing with some editing tools on the MAC without really knowing what I was doing.  I got frustrated when I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t able to find any of the movie clips I was loading.  In the class, Rob, my instructor, guided me through a discovery process to find out that I needed to organize the clips differently.  I GOT IT!  I knew what he was talking about and immediately saw the application.

Back in time, we know that people learned new skills through aprenticship programs and learning on the job.  But once education was institutionalized, that all changed.  We now sit students (both kids and adults) in classrooms, put the sage on stage to feed them information and then give them a test to see if they remembered any of it.  Sadly much of corporate learning is still done this way.

What we don’t know using this method is whether or not the student can actually DO the task or USE the skill learned.  The student has head knowledge but doesn’t know how to apply the learning, and when they do go back and try to implement, they become frustrated and revert back to what is comfortable.

Now let me step out of the academic and into your world (unless your world is the academic world, then you can just stay  in your seat).  So many people are talking about ways to use technology in our businesses and in our learning environments.  But most people attending the class are listening to the sage on stage and taking notes.  Some are sitting on webinars watching screen shots.  When the learner goes back, they don’t always remember how it was done and many get frustrated and quit.  It’s time to dive in.  It’s time to start doing and stop reading about it.  What is one new technology tool that you keep reading about but haven’t yet taken a stab at?

Don’t worry about being perfect with it or having to set everything up perfectly before you start!  Just start.  Sure you may fail at parts of it, but when you do … fail productively!



Speakers and Trainers are a CHALLENGE to Event Planners

I am attending a great conference today, The Virtual Edge, which is going on physically in Santa Clara, California and also being webcast and brought into several virtual platforms so that people can attend from all over the globe.

A planner from Disney was on a panel and he said that one of the challenges to pulling off successful virtual events is “Getting presenters or trainers up to speed with the technology.  Most are not there.”  This really hit me and made me sad to think that professional speakers and trainers are seen as a CHALLENGE to pulling off successful events using the latest in technology.

As professional content deliverers, we need to be leading the way, not chasing the bus!  Whether it is webinars, teleseminars, live video-streaming, or virtual world events, it is time to get out front and lead the way.  Quit being one of the challenges.

If you need someone to walk you through any of this give me a Tweet– a Facebook shout out or even an old fashioned email or phone call! 🙂 We hold regular MeetUps in our virtual world campus where you can practice as you learn to grow your biz–ask me for information on My VSTA (virtual speaker’s and trainer’s association)