Create Your Own Twitter-Powered Personal Learning Network

Sometimes creative ideas hide in the darkness, and we, as designers, can fall into a routine of producing the same types of designs that we always do, using the same formula, and the same process. This leads to ho-hum programs. Sometimes we need to inject something into the mix to get new ideas flowing.

Last week, I was designing a class for new leaders. The team was brainstorming ideas for an activity to kick-off the training session — something that would be fun, experiential, and made a point that would set up the importance of the training session. High bar to clear, I know. Then it occurred to me, “Why not post a question on Twitter and see if anyone has any ideas?” Sure enough, a few minutes later, I received a great response from @guywwallace. Since Guy is someone I respect and actively follow, I immediately perked up. We exchanged DMs and emails, and he sent me an activity that will be greatly useful for the session we are designing.

Tap Your Personal Learning Network

Many avid Twitter users use this approach, and many refer to it as tapping into their personal learning network, but perhaps something else is going on here. Twitter is becoming a tool for personal development. In fact, one VC is betting heavily on Twitter because he sees several reasons Twitter is so important, and these reasons apply directly to Twitter as a tool for learning and working. The first reason is that Twitter is “real-time.” Second, Twitter is open.

These two reasons were important to me last week because within minutes, I was able to access an expert in my field and had a useful response that I could put into action almost immediately. Moreover, not only did I benefit from Guy’s response, but anyone who follows either Guy or me could benefit from our exchange because the conversation was open.

If you take one thing away from this blog post it is this: How else could you gain access to experts so easily, openly, and in real-time? The answer is that you could not. Not without Twitter. And there are many ways you could use outside expertise in your personal development, or for that matter in your training programs. To name just one, imagine teaching a training class and inviting an author into your session via Twitter. Think Inside the Actors Studio but using Twitter.

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Bill Cushard, Chief Learning Officer at The Knowland Group, is a learning leader with more than 12 years experience in training and performance improvement at companies such as E*TRADE Financial, Accenture, and Time Warner Cable.