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A Listening Post

July 5, 2010

Listening is an important part of our practice as instructional designers – listening to clients, listening to SMEs, listening to our team members, listening to leaders in the field… Having an ear to the ground and an eye to the horizon allows us to have some knowledge of what’s coming next so we can prepare, position, and not just react. To actively listen we have to focus our attention away from ourselves and towards what is going on around us. 

As I sit in meeting after meeting (many of us suffer this to some degree, right?) I find myself wondering if anyone is listening. We seem to cover a lot of familiar ground and make decisions that were decided in previous sessions. It can be easy to get caught up in the need to be heard. It can be easy to get caught up in the need to meet our own individual deadlines.

When I went through military training (eons ago) I learned about establishing Listening Posts and Observation Posts (LP/OP).  These were strategically positioned outposts that allowed for the collection of information. In my memory one of the key characteristics of these posts is that if you were the LP/OP you had to be quiet. You had to take accurate notes about what you heard and saw (collecting data!) so that you could share the information once you got back to your unit. I have no idea if these LP/OPs are still part of the way military units operate, but I do think there’s an opportunity for all of us here. It’s a simple concept, yes, but not necessarily easy to implement.

Where are your Listening Posts?

For instructional design, I rely heavily these days on Twitter. I follow a mix of people and organizations involved in instructional design and technology at varying levels and from multiple perspectives: k-12, higher ed, corporate training, textbook publishers, open education resources, professional organizations, thinktanks, and journalists. Twitter allows me to customize my own kind of news feed – one in which I can participate as well, but it’s only one listening post. Others include conference attendance and networking events. What do you rely on?

You’ll find a lot of people talking about listening these days, too, not only in instructional design, but also in social media, marketing, and business circles.

What can we learn from listening to what’s going on in other fields? What can we learn from listening to what is going on within our own field, within our own organizations?

Image credit: gregwake, Flickr

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 24, 2010 1:34 pm

    there are professional career coaches out there that charges a small fee ;.-

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