There is no “us” in Lectern

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In most training environments a lectern is an unnecessary barrier between you and the audience. Unless you are reading an extended portion of text or perceive your audience as hostile, as one might in the Whitehouse Press Briefing Room, think twice before you set up shop behind a lectern.

You may need it as a stand for your laptop, but there shouldn’t be a need to stand behind it for very long. Get a clicker with a built in mouse so you can run your presentation software from anywhere in the room. I’ve know instructors who take a lectern with them wherever they are teaching, as if to establish their authority with the class. In my experience this can limit a learner’s interaction with the content. The message of a lectern is a message of dissemination. You’re broadcasting; it’s not a two way conversation. It can come across as a “You are the masses and I am enlighten” approach.

Having interacted with experts in the field of teaching and leading, it’s clear that they would much rather teach one on one or is smaller settings. These leaders can be extremely effective in large settings, yet each of them understands the disadvantages created by emotional distance. This applies equally to the digital realm. 

Ever walk into a room and the first thing you feel is the tension? You couldn’t see it but there was no denying the obvious. You could literally feel the barrier. As an instructor, don’t think you are protected by the magic of the wires. If you have a lectern mind set your audience is at a disadvantage. Remember, there is no “us” in lectern.

Google More

 

You’ve seen Google Maps, Google Images, and Google Video, yet Google has so much more to offer. Here are four examples.  

  1. Ever wondered who categorizes the images on Google Images? Try Google Image Labeler and find out.  
  2. Tired of sending documents back and forth through e-mail for editing and wondering who has the current version? Try Google Docs & Spreadsheets. 
  3. Want to know who invented the first pocket protector, the electric tooth brush, or the hulla hoop? Try Google Patent Search 
  4. Want to know exactly what people are searching for on Google? Go to Google Trends.

These are just a few of over 50 services available from Google. As a co-worker of mine, Kurt Fanstill, said after attending an indexing conference, ‘this is not an information age; it is an information retrieval age. Sorting through the data to quickly find what you need is the key and Google continues to unlock the doors.

Paper is the enemy of words: Redefining the Dictionary

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Erin McKean is a lexicographer who believes “the book is not the best shape for the dictionary.” In her 2007 TED talk “Redefining the dictionary” she explains that we use the word “dictionary” synecdochically. We use it to represent all of the English language when the dictionary, like a flag, is only a symbol of the language. “The dictionary” doesn’t contain everything and online versions are not much better. They give us very limited context and without context words have no meaning.

Watch her delightful talk “Redefining the dictionary” (16:02 minutes) and you may come to see how at times, as Erin says, “paper is the enemy of words.”  

Erin McKean is currently the editor of VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly and maintains two blogs; Dictionary Evangelist and Dress a Day.