Articles / Learning to learn

Three things which have made the greatest contribution to my personal professional development:

  • Corporate culture
  • RSS
  • Blogging

Corporate culture

After 8 years teaching in schools, I moved to Capita and spent 12 years there. Whilst teaching, I remember using lack of training as an excuse: “I can’t do that. I’ve not had any training.” The expectation was that training was done to us.

The move to Capita brought a significant culture shock. The profit motive took a while to get used to… But the biggest change was in expectations. I had a succession of really good managers, who gave me opportunities and bigger and bigger challenges. I’d had no training for them, but I was expected to learn.

Within a short time I was building websites, writing sales proposals, managing a product, and working with Microsoft to define technical standards.

All with no training whatsoever. That’s not to say I was unsupported though. I was given time and space to learn using whatever method I had to hand. In the “old days” that would have been books and magazines. At that time, the internet was just kicking off and people, as now, were sharing their knowledge and experience. I piggybacked off of that.

RSS

My primary learning tool, for many years, has been an RSS Reader (I use Feedly). RSS just means “Really Simple Syndication”. Unfortunately it sounds more technical than it actually is!

An RSS Reader collects new articles from wherever I choose and pulls them into a central place. From there I can categorise them, read them, save them for later and share them.

Unlike social media, there is no marketing-driven algorithm choosing what I might want to see. It’s entirely in my control.

It allows me to have a single location to keep up-to-date with people and organisations that I trust. It means I don’t have to trawl around all their websites. Instead the articles come to me.

Blogging

The more I started following other people in my RSS reader, the more I realised I needed somewhere to help me make sense of everything I was learning. (See the “seek, sense, share” framework)

So I started a blog.

At first, I just posted links to articles and resources that I’d found useful. Then I could come back to them later.

As time went on, I began to add short commentaries about what I was learning from those articles.

Later, I started to use the blog as a place to crystallize my own thinking or to record things that I would want to refer back to. Writing down ideas forces you to pull them into some sort of order.

It was only when I started getting comments and feedback that I realised that other people were finding my writing useful.

The blog became a way to interact with a wider network of people who were learning together - a community of practice.

These days we can do that on Facebook and LinkedIn, but I still blog - simply because I own the space. Social media is just another way to get the link out.

If you want to subscribe to this blog via RSS, just add https://mark.berthelemy.net/feed.xml to your favourite RSS reader. (Note: If you click on that link, you’ll likely see a load a techie stuff. Just ignore that and hit Back.)


Posted: 21 May 2021

Tags: Learning Change