The "I want to know stuff" board

better learning outcomes through public declarations of interest
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I was talking with a co-worker a few weeks ago about the process for learning new technologies that are on the fringe of what we know now… say, for example, what new Backbone.js-based frameworks are out there (Chaplin, Thorax, Marionette – which to choose?). I was thinking it'd be great if there was some board somewhere where we could write what we're interested in learning, and other people could tag on their name as if to say "I want to know that too!", and then anybody else who already knew about these things could put themselves down as a source for the information, or could get in touch with the people who wanted to know stuff. This would be a public declaration that you're trying to learn a technology, which would hopefully help spur the would-be learner, as well as perhaps spur other people to learn more as well.

Immediately after coming up with the idea, we turned it into action by taking the nearest whiteboard (right next to my desk in our lab) and turning it into the official department-wide "I want to know stuff" board. So far, about five people have added something they'd like to learn more about. I'm currently marked down as wanting to learn more about Google Chrome Workspaces and Ember.js, and that last one has sparked a "Me too!" from one of our interns. This triggered the possibility of her working on an Ember proof-of-concept with me in a few weeks, which is exactly what the board was designed to produce: better learning outcomes through public declarations of interest.

This is a social experiment, there are no rules, and it's probably too early to say if it'll continue to be successful. That being said, I think it helps emphasize a culture of learning and furthering one's personal professional development goals, and I'm happy to see where this goes for as long as it lasts.

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