First thing is first, I want to thank @IdeaBlendEDU for answering my tweet with a topic for me to talk about:
I'll be honest, I flipped the question in my head, and then inspiration kicked-in. I have thoughts that specifically answer this question and will post those ideas in the near future.
In the world of professional development, we have grown custom to a few methods of having information shared with us. As IdeasBlendEDU points out, there are webinars. To me, a webinar is essentially watching someone give a presentation online. Add the difficulties of being able to ask questions and trying to learn from these seems more and more daunting of a task. Going even more traditional, there are conferences. Conferences are fun (I am helping plan one), but for many it becomes an excuse to go to a cool destination and see "the best" that is offered in the world of (fill in the blank profession). Where does the learning come from these methods?
Is there a way for a group of people to learn a new ability that they can take back to their office? Is there a way "out of the ordinary" to build a new skill within your office that isn't as boring as a webinar or as costly as attending a conference?
My short answer is simple and we have done it since we were kids:
Let us Play
To set the parameters of this post, I am strictly talking technologies, mainly mainly software. Further, I am going to talk about the FREE programs that may already be around in the office or can easily accessible via online. I say this because there are plenty of things that we may already know (Microsoft Office, Prezi, Emailing, etc.), but do we really know them?
And I know, why should I let you play on our time and dollar? Even if nothing comes from the adventure, you at least have created an environment where it is okay to take a risk. You create an environment where innovation and creativity, two huge qualities often lost in the workplace, to exist that may transcend into other work. Worst thing that can happen when you let us play is we find out what not to do, with is a success in and of itself.
Fine, you still are not with me on this whole "playing" idea. You want something with a little bit more structure. Well you could look within your office to teach something that still feels like a webinar in person. You may want to bring someone like me in for "professional development," but I can tell you that if you pick me, we are still going to play.
I have recently had the privilege of teaching Prezi to a few classes. The presentation was simple: Show the basic tools and let the class play. I worked with the instructor to get the class to have Prezi accounts if they had not already. I had a very brief (5 min) Prezi made to talk about presenting, then we spent no more than 10 minutes looking at the different tools. The remainder of the time spent with the class was them playing to build their first Prezi on whatever topic they wanted. Some got started on their class assignment, and others built a Prezi about their favorite things.
Now I could have dove deep and did all of this in front of them, but instead I chose to let them play. The end result, a much deeper understanding and a high level of engagement.
Imagine if your office spent an hour at your weekly staff meeting diving into PowerPoint or Excel to find all the tricks. Play with a software that only one person in the office knows or set up a challenge to see who can take your brochure and make an engaging PowerPoint. Give everyone the same advantage and give everyone the ability to Google for a tutorial or an answer.
It is no longer simply playing, it is learning.
How else may you learn something new? Comment, share your thoughts, and Thanks for reading!