In my previous post we looked at the 5 different types (or links) of learners, and realized that to be a Mutant Learner, or someone who spends their time in the four positive learning links, you need to build a Mutant Learning Lab. So, what is a mutant learning lab?

A Mutant Learning Lab is a customized learning lab where you access, organize and share relevant learning fragments for your personal learning needs. This is typically an actual online tool or website connecting you to relevant social media sites and networks where you can continuously discover new knowledge.

What does a working Mutant Learning Lab look like? While there isn’t one definitive tool right now, there are a handful that, when used in combination, do the job quite nicely. Just like a science lab doesn’t have just one piece of equipment, the Mutant Learning Lab has many digital tools, such as blogs, groups and online communities, to equip you with everything you need to be a Mutant Learner.

Whatever tool (or tools) you choose for your Mutant Learning Lab, ensure that it meets the following criteria:

  • Helps you focus on a topic of interest
  • Can be customized to your learning needs
  • Connects to relevant social media, research and other relevant learning sites in one place (if possible)
  • Aggregates, organizes and provides accessibility to learning fragments
  • Enables you to share knowledge with others

Some Mutant Learning lab (or social media management) examples include:

Netvibes.com: A social media dashboard tool that organizes relevant information, sets up alerts and shares your dashboard with others.

Alternion.com: Aggregates all of your social networks in one place. Instead of having to go to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (and dozens of other social and business sites) to read your activity stream, Alternion feeds all that information into one combined stream, making your connection strategies easier to manage.

Hootsuite.com: This tool not only links to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and RSS feeds, but also allows you to schedule tweets and status updates in advance.

And so much more…

There are two main reasons why we need a Mutant Learning Lab, which we define through the Zac Principle and the Mutant Learning Paradox.

  1. The Zac Principle. A few years ago, Zac came to us for a job interview. As we talked with him, it became very evident his knowledge was limited and he wasn’t keeping up with trends related to his career path—even very basic ones. It was obvious he had been living as a Zombie Learner for many years. In technical terms he was obsolete. He didn’t have the bandwidth or skills required to get the job done. In order to stay relevant in your industry, you need to keep up with the trends and technologies your industry uses. Being a Mutant Learner means your skills and abilities are ever evolving and being applied in new ways, which will keep you from becoming obsolete.
  2. The Mutant Learning Paradox. Another reason you need a Mutant Learning Lab is to focus your learning attention on relevant learning fragments, instead of the millions of other fragments that can draw your attention away and lead you down wasteful tracks. For example, the average worker loses 2.1 hours of productivity every day to interruptions and distractions, according to Basex, an IT research and consulting firm. With so many distractions and so little time, it is imperative that you streamline your attention in order to maximize your productivity.

With these two reasons in mind—keeping your industry knowledge and skills up to date and focusing only on learning useful content—let’s start our Mutant Learning Lab by honing in on what we want to learn.

Your Mutant Learning Lab requires dedication to an identified course of study. Before you start diving into the steps to build your lab, identify what skills you would like to learn, or develop. Ask yourself: What is the topic or subject in which I want to be competent?

With a basic understanding of the criteria required for an effective Mutant Learning Lab tool, we are now equipped to move into the five steps needed to build your own Mutant Learning Lab. Stay tuned to learn what the five steps of an effective Mutant Learning Lab are.

(Adapted from the previously published white paper, “Mutant Learning: How to Develop a Social Learning Lab.”)

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