Computers as Catalysts for Humanizing the Learning Experience

This TED Talks Video by Salman Khan is perhaps the most compelling case for technology-assisted learning, peer-to-peer learning and learning communities (and by extension, communities of practice) that I’ve ever seen. In fact, educational philanthropist Bill Gates liked Khan’s idea so much, he invested 1.5 million dollars into it.

This 20 minute video is truly inspiring and entertaining to watch. It focuses on K-12 students but I’m sure you’ll all make the leap on how this works with adults and professionals.

What is truly inspiring is his message of computers as a catalyst for humanizing the learning experience, which is a refreshing change from the message that it dehumanizes learning.

Enhancing Our Creativity by Tackling Others Challenges

In a recent research report published in the Personality and social psychology bulletin, Polman and Emich demonstrate how when we make decisions for others, we are going to make decisions that are more creative than the ones we make for ourselves.

This is just the latest extension of research into construal level theory, an intriguing concept that suggests various aspects of psychological distance can affect our thinking style. (link from quote)

I see this as a important validation of one of the benefits of case studies and problem-based learning for boosting the creativity of participants.

In addition, it is yet another argument for the importance of communities of practice which promotes the community-based tackling of issues in order to find creative solutions to advance the practice.

Again, this only further promotes the benefits of open innovation which consists of the gathering of external inputs to advance a concept, a product or a technology.

Reference:

How thinking for others can boost your creativity | Research Digest | Christian Jarrett | 1 Mar 2010

This post is cross-posted with Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

 

The Components of True Collaboration

Dan Pontefract has a wonderfully clear and thought out model on The Collaboration Cycle. In fact, to summarize it wouldn’t really do it justice. But I will highlight that he bases it on 3 components as illustrated in his diagram below:

  • Adopting the CARE Principle. (Continuous, Authentic, Receptive and Enrich)
  • Appreciating and adapting to Strong and Weak ties
  • Ensuring both the Consumption of and Contribution back to the network of Strong and Weak Ties.

 

When speaking of collaboration or communities of practice, often we speak of the necessity of engagement. This model gives us some standard guidelines of how to cultivate and maintain such a level of engagement.

Reference:

The Collaboration Cycle | Training Wreck | Dan Pontefract | 29 January 2011

This post is cross-posted with Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

The Nature and Structure of Communities of Practice

The following is the introduction to an article that Keith De La Rue wrote wich was published in the KM Review (KM Review | Volume 11 Issue 5 | November/December 2008).

It echoes a lot of sentiments that I have about the nature and needs for sustainability of communities of practice.

Very insightful.

The theory and practice of communities

Despite everything that the modern KM practitioner knows about communities, collaboration and technology, communities of practice (CoPs) often fail and collaboration often breaks down. In order to establish an effective CoP, it’s necessary first to think about the nature and structure of a community and recognize that it’s an entirely different entity from a work group or a project team. As such, it must be treated differently, too. In this article, author Keith De La Rue examines the pitfalls associated with CoPs and why helping them to grow and flourish requires a better understanding of three words: “community”, “practice” and “technology”.

Read the full article (PDF)

Similarly, I refer back to a post I made earlier this year about Lilia Efimova’s diagram distinguishing a community of practice from a team or a network.

Reference:

The UK Offers a Free Communities of Practice Platform for Local Governement Collaboration and Innovation

Communities of practice for local government is a website that supports collaboration across local government and the public sector in the United Kingdom.

From the About section of the site:

This is a freely accessible resource that enables like-minded people to form online communities of practice, which are supported by collaboration tools that encourage knowledge sharing and learning from each others experiences.

Connect to Collaborate to Innovate

This is a community platform supporting professional social networks across local government and the public sector. It provides a secure environment for knowledge development and sharing through online communities of practice.

What will I find?

Networking across local government

Reference:

You Just Might Digg This!

What makes a blogger credible? What gives them authority? How do we measure their success?

In a blog post entitled Blog Metrics: Six Recommendations For Measuring Your Success, Avinash Kaushik, a Web Analytics Practitioner, writes about 6 ways to measure the impact of your blog. In summary, they are:

  1. Raw Author Contribution
  2. Holistic Audience Growth
  3. Conversation Rate
  4. “Citations” / “Ripple Index”
  5. Cost
  6. Benefit (ROI: Return on Investment)

His post is actual a very informative read. The approaches he discusses are however purely quantitative, except for a certain degree of qualitative metrics that might be included in the ROI analysis. He addresses non-traditional or unquantifiable values, which is similar to what I discussed in my blog post on consultants 2.0.

Digg.com
Digg.com

However, Tools that gather opinions on the quality of content have been emerging on the Web. An example of such a tool is Digg, a social media application that enables Internet readers to share the content they discover from anywhere on the Web with others. The way Digg works is that readers submit or “Digg” their appreciation of a Web resource. Other members of the Digg community will have access to the review and will either ignore it or “Digg” it themselves. When a resource receives a substantial amount of “Diggs”, it gets promoted to front page status. Digg explains its vision in the “about” section on the Digg Website:

And it doesn’t stop there. Because Digg is all about sharing and discovery, there’s a conversation that happens around the content. We’re here to promote that conversation and provide tools for our community to discuss the topics that they’re passionate about. By looking at information through the lens of the collective community on Digg, you’ll always find something interesting and unique. We’re committed to giving every piece of content on the web an equal shot at being the next big thing.

It would be interesting to find out how will tools like Digg affect the way content will be perceived on the Web? Even if the tools for critical analysis are available, will readers have the necessary critical analysis and thinking skills to utilize them properly?

I recently defended my thesis in which I analyzed what it means to be a blogger in the field of training and development—an edublogger—as well as the credibility of blogs intended for the training community. The specific research questions were posed from the insider’s or emic perspective.

The objective of this study was to attempt to paint a portrait of an edublogger and uncover areas for further research. This is one of those areas.

Informally, I’d find it very helpful to have your opinions now. What is your take on the potential of such tools? How does it relate to the raison d’être of blogging?

References:

Leveraging Technology to Turn Virtual Organization into Vehicles of Collaboration

I love social media and online collaborative tools. I truly see the potential in it. The thing is, though I see the potential, I don’t think it’s being leveraged not nearly as much as it can be. And why? Perhaps because it’s relatively new and we are still experimenting with it.

Interestingly enough, I came across the following report from the workshops on Building Effective Virtual Organizations: Beyond Being There: A Blueprint for Advancing the Design, Development, and Evaluation of Virtual Organizations [PDF 3.3 MB]. The researchers identified many of the components, characteristics, practices, and transformative impact of effective Virtual Organizations as well as topics for future research that will inform the ongoing design, development, and analysis. So what is a Virtual Organization, or VO? According to the researchers:

A virtual organization (VO) is a group of individuals whose members and resources may be dispersed geographically and institutionally, yet who function as a coherent unit through the use ofcyberinfrastructure (CI).

I their report, the researchers discuss a “new technology continuum” they have observed in which, at one end, there is a grid to coordinate resource-sharing and problem-solving whereas on the other, there is a much more informal emerging set of technologies that are highly influenced by the gamut of popular social media tools such as Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Second Life, and so on which have changed how individuals congregate, collaborate, and communicate. The thing is, that at this end of the spectrum:

VOs may be more like “containers” rather than “vehicles” of collaboration in that they are not necessarily driven by common goals or comparable inputs. Nevertheless, VOs of this type may accumulate the results of many seemingly uncoordinated individual actions, creating a whole that becomes an integrated collection.

So how do we turn VOs into “vehicles” of collaboration? Part of it is harnessing and leveraging the technology and aligning it with processes, procedures and needs. But what else?

I’m quite interested in VOs, as I work in one. I’d say we’re leveraging quite a bit, but every day we face new hurdles and have to come up with solutions. Sometimes however, I feel we are so much in the trenches we need to take a step back and assess. If we were to building a model for VOs, what would need to be addressed?

Reference: