42In Paris there is a school where there are NO teachers, NO set timetables NOR classes but only group projects. NO state-sanctioned degree will be awarded at the end NOR must incoming students be high school graduates.

Founded by Xavier Niel, the French Steve Jobs, School 42 is a private computer programming school, tuition-free, sought to attract students from the country’s poorest neighbourhoods and provide an alternative to either the old-fashion public universities or very expensive private schools.

Its name is a cryptic provocation from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” where the number 42 is proclaimed as the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe and Everything.

The school breaks with the traditional methods and philosophy of the government-run education through a more cooperative and independent approach, which will produce graduates who are more innovative, more employable, more diverse and more useful to the stagnant French economy as a result.

42 promotes what many French call the Anglo-Saxon virtues of entrepreneurship and creative thinking, whereas the standard French approach relies heavily on traditional methods for learning.

Last week I moved to Maastricht to start a 6-month collaboration with the Open University of the Netherlands where I will receive some support in analyzing the data collected for my project on Mobile Workplace Learning. After having spent 16 months at the International Training Centre of the ILO in Torino working in the DELTA department, I thought it was important to take the time to say farewell to my colleagues.

But what’s the best way to say “goodbye” when you work for an International Organization in which first of all turn over is pretty fast (translation: I am not the first leaving, neither I will be the last one) and co-workers are not always available at the office as they are often busy with missions and meetings out of the office???

Good question. A mass email? An individual mail?

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Social learning happens in a context… Can we say that architecture plays a role? Today I report an interesting conversation I had with my friend and colleague Fausto Saltetti.

Fausto Saltetti_picFausto Saltetti is an architect and human-centred designer from Vercelli (Italy). He loves everything about innovation, art and design. Not to speak about colours! He collects wristwatches which are as stylish as impossible to read! His favourite social network? Tumbler.

What does an architect do in an international organisation?

“While working at the International Training Centre of the ILO, I have mainly learnt that “learning” has so many meanings and my objective has been to seek whether is possible to transform the campus settings in a full learning environment facilitating interactions among people.

It is an interesting and challenging project as it is not only about furnishing spaces but truly understand learners and trainers’ needs and provide an answer through architecture.”

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How is it possible to receive general feedback from your colleagues? How do they perceive you and your work? How to reflect on workplace relationships?

Following up on my last post on visual facilitation, today I am going to talk about a nice team exercise we did at work: the Metaphor box. It does not take a lot of time and, even though it is simple in structure, it is surprisingly meaningful.

Here how it works:

Requirements: 1 paper box

paper box

1. A colleague from the team is appointed to be the Metaphor box person, therefore his/her name is written on the box.

2. A timeline is set: 1 week is usually enough.

3. Colleagues deeply think about the Metaphor box person during that week, their relationship with him/her, how do they perceive his/her personality, behaviours, habits, attitude at work… and they are encouraged to translate these thoughts into images.  Read More

As part of staff development activities, this week we had a 1-day Visual Facilitation workshop led by the international practitioner Nancy White. In this blog post, I will not tell you anything specific about the content or about what visual facilitation is. Background information is provided in this post on ITC-ILO Learning & Technology blog, including an interview with the expert.

What I will tell, or rather SHOW is more about what I learned. Here it is:

FINAL PICTURE

Ah, last but not least, this is the masterpiece I produced during the hands-on workshop. Colourful, isn’t it? It’s now boosting good energy on my wall office.

masterpiece

imagesThe post I am writing today is about the importance of people skills and their relevance at the workplace. I am quoting below 2 real examples happened in the last months to start some reflections around the topic.

Example 1: A colleague told me they were hiring a new trainee. They were of course looking for somebody with good technical skills but overall,  somebody who could immediately integrate himself in the team, with enough flexibility to support not only the workflow, but also the colleagues.

Her manager literally stated: “I don’t want a genius, but a team player”.

Example 2: This is something I experienced personally when at the office my boss asked me to “teach” people skills to a new colleague. Where for “people skills” she meant tone of voice, communication style and dealing with partners.

This second example in particular let me thought about how can we teach people skills? What are they exactly? How can we decide during a job interview if the candidate has suitable soft skills for the job? Asking questions is enough?

While trying to answer to all these questions, I found out this “People Skills Test” which allows to identify different situations where soft skills are required, and tips and tricks for improving them. are given

So, what? Are you a team player? What does it mean to you?How can you demonstrate it?

I am curious to collect your feedback.

I am finally able to publish the last piece of the puzzle on “is e-Learning social?”. In the past weeks I shared the views of an online student and an instructional designer, today the floor goes to an experienced tutor and facilitator.

Johnson Opigo

I had the chance to virtually meet Johnson Opigo thanks to a long-lasting collaboration on an e-learning course about social media for development.

Since I only met  him in the ether, I can truly say that  Johnson’s skills in moderating conversations and engaging students online are excellent. Read More

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