Tag: blogging

Game changer

As a blogger, I’ve been struggling.

Historically it has been a rewarding pastime for me – both personally and career wise – but it has also been challenging. It’s time consuming, it requires large doses of vulnerability, and on occasion the reaction from my fellow “professionals” has been downright unprofessional.

Combine that with some private matters and a dwindling readership, I’ve been wondering if it’s worth it any more.

Prior to posting I don’t know earlier this year, an illustration tweeted by Harsh Darji convinced me to give it another crack; and I felt passionately enough about transforming conventional digital training into blended learning experiences to follow it up with a potential last hurrah.

Which prompted me to wonder: What do I feel passionate about?

A fuzzy heart shape labelled Over-Thinking leads to a clearly defined heart shap labelled Writing.

After ruminating over the question for a surprisingly long time, I’ve concluded that my passion is nature and its conservation.

I studied environmental biology at uni and got my first full-time job in water management, before the trajectory of my career thrusted me deep into the corporate realm. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just different.

After further pondering, I also recognised that I’m fascinated by cryptozoology. Not so much of the Bigfoot variety – although I do find that entertaining and sometimes informative, especially when the investigators employ cutting-edge technology; but rather more along the lines of whether the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus) still exists on the Apple Isle or in pockets on the mainland, or whether big cats (Panthera spp.) roam the Australian countryside.

Having done a fair share of it myself, I can tell you that biological surveying is a tricky business. Traditional methods of identifying the various species that inhabit a given area – eg observation, tracking, scat analysis, cage trapping, motion-sensing photography – are a bit hit and miss, to be frank. To get a sense of the magnitude of the task, imagine trekking through the Amazon forest… you know jaguars live there, but you almost certainly won’t see one.

In that light, finding a cryptid is hard – otherwise they wouldn’t be cryptids. Even when video evidence is forthcoming, it’s infuriatingly inconclusive.

Which leads me to another interest: Environmental DNA. Abbreviated to eDNA, this term refers to the analysis of minute traces of organic matter in samples of soil, water and even air to identify the wildlife that’s present in the vicinity.

I consider eDNA a game changer, not only for cryptozoology but also for mainstream ecology. A case in point is the University of Otago’s search for the Loch Ness Monster. While this foray failed to find the fabled plesiosaur, it did showcase a novel approach to biological surveying that found evidence of a whopping 3,000 species in the water. Not only aquatic animals such as salmon, pike and eel, but also terrestrial animals such as rabbit, badger and vole (presumably because of rain washing detritus into the lake from the surrounding catchment).

I’m so enamoured by eDNA that I urge the scientific community to give it a proper go before we “resurrect” the Tasmanian Tiger via Jurassic Park-style genetic engineering.

A tweet by Ryan Tracey stating: Before we resurrect the Tasmanian Tiger, can we please give eDNA a proper go? It can be done with air samples now.

I’d also be delighted to see it used in the hunt for big cats down under, if not to prove they exist, then to prove that they don’t.

Having said that, I realise eDNA is no magic bullet. Firstly, it’s a snapshot: for example, the University of Otago’s survey failed to identify animals such as seals and otters which are known to visit the loch. Then of course you have the politics of science to contend with: fuelled by anecdotes such as the one about the leopard scat sampled from a local zoo being identified as “dog” by a wary lab.

Despite its limitations, however, I contend that eDNA will revolutionise our study of biodiversity.

DNA strands.

Lest I stray too far off topic, I’ll conclude by reaffirming what we already know about Learning & Development: we also benefit from the advancement of technology.

Amid the rise of virtual reality, artificial intelligence and the metaverse, what do you consider to be our game changer?

Crazy Eight

Is it just me or is every year a “big year”…?

Well 2018 marked a decade of blogging by yours truly, and that alone is something that I’m proud of.

Throughout the highs and lows that life gifted me this year, I was able to share another 8 thought bubbles in addition to my annual list of conferences.

I call them my Crazy Eight and I recall them here for your enjoyment and critique…

An eight card on a poker table.

  1. Battle scars – We can’t fight an “ism” with yet more ism.

  2. 25 more real-world examples of Virtual Reality – Yes, VR is being used in the real world.

  3. My decade of provocation – 10 years ago I made one of the best decisions of my professional life.

  4. The foundations of innovation in L&D – The 70:20:10 model informs the building blocks of long-term efficiency, flexibility and creativity.

  5. The best of both worlds – I love Design Thinking because it’s evidence based and it delivers.

  6. Gift horses – Let’s empower the experts whom we have hired to practise their expertise.

  7. Back to the future – Add these museums to your bucket list.

  8. Figure it out – Instead of being the expert who knows the solution, be the one who solves the problem.

I’d be delighted if you were to add a comment to one or two of the above, either in support or offering a constructive alternative point of view.

In the meantime, I wish you joy and safety over the Christmas season, and here’s to a big 2019!

My decade of provocation

On this day 10 years ago, I pressed the “Publish” button on my first ever blog post.

It was a welcome message pitching my corner of the World Wide Web as “a forum to share my thoughts and ideas about everything e‑learning, to explore new tools and technologies, and to highlight trends and changing behaviours in the online world.”

Cupcakes with candles.

I initially titled my blog Ryan 2.0 – hence the URL – because “on a personal level, it represents my next big step in our evolving participatory culture. Just as the shift from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 represents a change from one-way transmission to two-way participation on the Internet, the shift from Ryan 1.0 to Ryan 2.0 represents a similar change in myself.”

Early posts such as Text ain’t half bad and Don’t convert… transform! were about getting ideas off my chest and seeing how they fared among my peers. Later posts such as Collateral damage and The 70:20:10 lens have been more about reflection and sense making, accompanied by the joining of dots to generate fresh insights.

I soon re-titled my blog E-Learning Provocateur, not only for unique branding, but also to better convey my intent to provoke deeper thinking in the digital learning space and across L&D more broadly.

Some of my posts have been contrarian, others counter-contrarian. Some such as Taxonomy of Learning Theories and Online courses must die! have proved surprisingly popular, while my annual list of E-Learning conferences in Australia has become somewhat of a tradition.

But it hasn’t all been beer and skittles. As a result of my blogging, I’ve been insulted, trolled, condescended to, and talked at. On the flip side, however, I’ve also been validated, supported, engaged with, and commended. I’m pleased to report the latter interactions have far exceeded the former. By a country mile.

Over the years I’ve encountered peers with a growth mindset, and peers with a fixed mindset. Some of their comments have been constructive, others less so. I’ve agreed with many, disagreed with many others. Plenty of folks have convinced me to change my mind, or at least tweak my original thought. And so I’ve grown intellectually.

Through my various interactions I’ve acquired an allergy to absolutism. I now have the wisdom to recognise declarations such as “X is dead” or “Y doesn’t work” to be nonsensical. What is “right” for you may not be right for me, and vice versa. It’s all circumstantial.

I’ve also significantly raised my profile – both locally & internationally. When a stranger approaches me at a conference to praise my blog, it still blows. my. mind.

Yet at the end of the day, I don’t think I’m that clever. I just strive to be open and honest, sharing my ideas and experiences while respecting those of others.

I also like to think I add a dose of courage. Otherwise I never would have pressed that “Publish” button in the first place.

Cognitive Reality

Yet another year has come and gone at the speed of light!

For me, 2016 has been the year in which the Virtual Reality rubber finally met the road, while Augmented Reality made a surprise splash into the mainstream via those pesky Pikachu.

As a consequence, VR & AR dominated much of my blogging attention this year. But they weren’t the be-all-and-end-all of the e-learning universe. Plenty of other topics occupied my mind, from 70:20:10 and 3D printing to the extended enterprise and our universally despised compliance training regime.

I hope you found something useful among my musings, and I invite you to catch up on any that you may have missed…

Pulp fiction cover entitled Amazing Wonder Stories: Cognitive Reality: Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and other stuff!

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Other stuff

Vintage spaceship

To those who celebrate Christmas, I wish you a merry one, and I look forward to reconnecting with everyone in 2017.

My blogging year in the rear-view mirror

As the year draws to a close, I like to reflect on my blog posts.

I invite you to scan the list below and catch up on any that you may have missed. It’s never to late to comment!

Rear-view mirror

Thank you everyone for your ongoing support.

I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year!