Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Learning mobsters: #4sqchat

I've been one of the moderators for #lrnchat on Twitter for almost 2 years. Saying that amazes and humbles me...I've met more brilliant people and had the opportunity to learn from so many new friends through the serendipity of social media and my life is forever changed for the better because of the #lrnchat community.

On the other hand, I've been participating in #lrnchat for almost 2 years. And its really been the only Twitter chat I've participated in, besides an occasional #edchat or #hcmchat.

In retrospect, this seems absolutely silly. I've talked about in the past how I learn the most from the non-learning focused conferences I attend: gaming conferences, technology conferences, industry conferences...those are the conferences that typically get my mind whirring and my creativity flowing. So why have I not participated in any of the hundreds of chats you can now find on a regular basis on Twitter?

I don't have a good answer.

But luckily, some of my #lrnchat friends pointed out the obvious. We need to learn in places outside of our own backyard. We need to get out into the world and explore. We need to flashmob other chats!

If you don't know what a flashmob is, check out an example of one that I experienced myself by the Opera Company of Philadelphia here. The basic concept is that as people go on about their normal activities, a group of people come in and perform an organized event...and then everyone goes on about their normal activities. Flashmobs aren't intended to be disruptive...they are intended to entertain and enrich and often, to teach something, to expand people's viewpoints.

Tonight was our first chat flashmob. Our target? #4sqchat which takes place Mondays from 9 - 10 pm est. We didn't really know who all would show up...honestly, I didn't plan on participating. But 9 pm rolled around and I was online and I started to see my #lrnchat friends tweeting with the #4sqchat hashtag and I just couldn't stay away.

I will admit, I'm not an avid user of Foursquare and I have been skeptical about leveraging geolocation services for learning. Tonight, as part of the chat, I learned some things and got some ideas that expanded my viewpoint:

  • Foursquare has the ability to post photos to a location. Very cool! Some practical applications of that may be:
    • Running a game where people check in and take a picture of themselves or their team completing a task to score "points"
    • Documenting a trip by assigning a photo to each check in. There's even a service that allows you to create a memory book based on your check in photos: Memolane 
    • Businesses could market their products and services by adding photos to their business location in Foursquare.
  • You don't have to check in to post a photo to a location. This could address some people's privacy concerns.
  • Foursquare check ins could be set up for different locations within a conference, facilitating the creation of games at conferences and events. Think about checking into sessions, checking in at vendor booths in an expo hall, etc.
  • Check ins could be set up in locations at your company to support the creation of a new hire orientation activity.
Want to learn more about Foursquare? Participate in the weekly chat, check out the chat transcript, or check out this local Indianapolis Foursquare blog: 4sqindy or this more general AboutFoursquare blog.

Another cool thing we saw at the end of the chat? Analytics! Check out this data from Tweetreach on the chat and notice some of the #lrnchatter names on the board :)

But the coolest part of participating in #4sqchat? We learned new things, met new people and quite a few members of the #lrnchat community who didn't know about our flashmob plans joined in as well! Oh, the beauty of Twitter...

We don't know where we'll show up next, but be on the lookout for the learning mobsters to crash another chat near you...


  1. Right on, Koreen! The lrnbk chatters have been reading John Seely Brown et al "Power of Pull" lately (see http://lrnbk.blogspot.com ) and among the conversations is the power of serendipity in learning and connecting -- and ways to create it. This was a great example of that. I'm delighted that I was a part of it. Many thanks to the #4SqCHAT people for being so welcoming and teaching us so much!

  2. You are an amazing woman! You become a mobster, learn new ways of using 4Square, and create a blog post about it all before 1:00 am? I am humbled to be breathing the same air, let alone getting to participate in the inaugural mob with you. I'm going to need at least one more cup of coffee before I can pull off a post (and its the next morning for me).

    #4SqCHAT rocked for their inclusiveness to a #chatmob of new people. Kudos to them as well!

    Hanging with the big dogs,

  3. Jane, I have the book sitting next to my bed unopened...I definitely need to jump in on the lrnbkchat. And absolutely, a HUGE thanks goes out to the #4sqchat folks who were so gracious in helping us learn.

    And Lisa, you are too kind...I'm pretty sure the piece you left out was "crazy" though :)

  4. What a hoot! I've been a Foursquare user since it first started, but I am not consistent with it. And quite frankly, I've been having a hard time seeing the value. BUT, I also had a hard time seeing the value of twitter when I first opened my account in the early days. Now...well... y'all know the ending of that story.
    As an insight for everyone, our original plan for CHATMOBBing was much more planned with many fun ideas. Last nights mob almost didn't happen. Everyone has busy schedules and we all just got pulled away. But my evening lightened up around chat time and I found myself at the computer and so I thought what the heck. I actually thought I'd be a "mob of one", but several others found themselves in the same situation and so we just did it. The absolutely MARVELOUS thing about it was that each of our personal networks had others seeing what we were doing and so they just joined in to see what was going on. And so it actually did turn into a MOB. It was beautiful!
    We all learned a lot. Their topic was "the photo feature". Personally, I've never taken a photo at places I've checked in. I had to leave the mob a little early and pick up my daughter from swimming. And then Cammy Bean so brilliantly reminded me to checkin and snap a photo when I got there. And so I did. It was very cool. It felt like I had all my friends with me in my pocket and I could take them with me. So, cool...and fun.
    I LOVE talking about learning and I love learning about learning. But just love plain old LEARNING even more. Learning about anything...and figuring out how anything and everything can apply to what we do in the field of elearning.

  5. Brent, I didn't credit you appropriately for leading the #mobchat charge (mostly because I wasn't sure you wanted the credit or blame as the case may be ;) but THANK YOU for rallying us all at the 11th hour...it was the best informal, impromptu learning event in ages and I can't wait to do it again!

  6. I agree with Lisa, Brent, Cammy, Jane, and of course, Koreen. What an exciting way to infuse learning into other conversations and to ignite our own learning by approaching a topic we knew little, or nothing, about. Also, KUDOS to the hosts of #4sqchat for being gracious and engaging with us mobsters. This is a practice I want to intentionally build into my own development. Learning with, and learning from others. Learning with a mob mentality. It's simply awesome.