Seb Paquet, who works at the National Research Council’s e-learning group, with Stephen Downes and others, has been asked to quantify his impact on the research community. Personally, I see the connections that Seb and Stephen make on a daily basis. They are two critical nodes in the research dialogue of the e-learning community of practice.
Seb has helped me get started as a blogger and connected me to the work of some brilliant researchers, such as Lilia Efimova. Seb’s contacts helped to connect the open source bloggers at the last Moncton Cybersocial. Without Seb, Steve Mallet would not have showed up. As a result of the connections made at this event, a number of us are already discussing new business relationships. Seb’s published research informs my own research and practice, as many of my clients are interested in this "blogging thing". Seb’s perspective of the global community is a real inspiration for those of us in underpopulated, somewhat rural, New Brunswick. More recently Seb created the Atlantic Canada Bloggers wiki, a great map of who is blogging – the link is shown on my External Links [no longer available].
Stephen’s OLDaily is a great source of information, and I’m not sure how he finds the time to do it. His website is a treasure trove of information, insight, and sometimes contention (a good thing). Stephen’s Edu_RSS and Ed Radio are two small innovations that he developed in response to requests from the community. Stephen is someone who seems to be constantly giving back to the community.
I definitely feel that I am getting great value for my tax dollar from Seb, Stephen, Rod and the rest of the staff at the NRC.
In the book Systems Thinking: Managing chaos and complexity by J. Gharajedaghi (ISBN 0750671637), there are many concepts and examples of systems thinking. This is a book to read many times. One of the examples that Gharajedaghi provides is of the Oneida Nation. Their process used to solve problems is one that could be used for online communities, with three distinct roles to be performed in achieving consensus.
Using different attributes and characteristics for each of the three symbols of turtle, wolf and bear, the culture, to its credit, had identified and separated the three distinct roles of pathfinder, problem formulator, and problem solver. The role played by the wolves is that of pathfinder / synthesizer. Wolves display purposeful behavior by setting the direction, dealing with the "why" questions, identifing relevant issues, and defining the agenda and context before they are presented to the turtles, the problem formulators, to define them. The defined problems are, in turn, passed on by the turtles to the bears, the problem solvers. Bears generate alternatives and recommend solutions. Solutions are returned to the turtles to check on their relevance and potency before referring them back to the wolves to check on their relevance. Wolves are finally responsible for integrating the solutions, keeping the records, and ratifying and communicating the final agreements. Wolves keep the fire alive by motivating and monitoring others.
Like the Six Nations Confederacy from which this model comes, different individuals or groups can play different roles in order to find the best solution for an entire community of society.
The atmosphere last night at the Moncton Cybersocial seemed to be a lot more charged than previous gatherings of the IT community in Moncton. My topic of open source brought out some people who usually don’t attend these events. Believe me, it was the topic, not the speaker, who brought them out, because there was a lot of expertise in the room last night. It was great to meet Nathalie, Steve and the folks from the Moncton Linux User Group. I was also impressed by the contingent from PEI, including Will, Jevon, Jacob and Iain. Sorry if I’ve missed some names.
The consensus last night seemed to be that we should get an open source conference organised for the region. I suggested an open source track for the LearnTec conference in Miramichi this Fall, and I will follow-up. There are a lot of competent people working with open source, from hardware to operating systems to applications, and I am sure that this region will become a recognised centre of open source innovation. It was good to have the President of NBIF in attendance, witnessing the focus and drive of this community.
After a few false starts and some technical glitches, we have the new (and improved?) blog for elearning R&D in the region, available at www.learnnb.ca/blog/. This is a continuation of the posts started on the R&D Community Blog on this site, which will now be retired. The community now has its own web space, as part of the LearnNB site, which is hosted by the NRC.
I have also established a collaborative work space for interested community members. We are using the ACollab platform, which includes document sharing, file uploading and a discussion forum. Initial feedback is to use the blog for general discussions, and the collaborative work space for specific project-related issues. Please contact me if you would like access.
Feedback is always appreciated.
Rob Paterson offers the example of the New Bedford whaling community as a successful community of practice.
The entire community was financially behind the trip. All contributed to ensuring that the investment was safe by offering the very best equipment from the boat to the rigging. All crew members were paid on a share basis – all had a vested interest in supporting all the others on the ship. It was considered bad form to sail with the same crew so experience was continually spread around the fleet. Every position was apprenticed so their was a hierarchy of experience behind every trade and position. All captains shared their logs at the end of every trip so the NB fleet collected the collective wisdom and experience of every trip.
New Bedford = New Brunswick? Couldn’t we use a similar model for LearnNB? I think that some of the keys to this community are shared risk, no return on investment until the voyage is over, and the sharing of ships’ logs. Sounds almost like the open source community.
Bill Gates introduced blogs to the business community today. I guess that means that blogging is officially mainstream. Anyway, here is Bill’s view of this "new" phenomenon – parts of which may come in handy when explaining blogging to "The Suits". [Note that I couldn’t just copy this material and then link to it, because the MS Bill Gates site doesn’t use anything as simple as a Creative Commons licence. Instead, I had to dig through many pages of Microsoft legalese in order to determine that the company allows for the quoting of up to 10% of an article. After copying and pasting and doing a word count of the article as well as my quote, I know that the selection below is 4.1% of the total article.]
Another new phenomenon that connects into this is one that started outside of the business space, more in the corporate or technical enthusiast space, a thing called blogging. And a standard around that that notifies you that something has changed called RSS.
This is a very interesting thing, because whenever you want to send e-mail you always have to sit there and think who do I copy on this. There might be people who might be interested in it or might feel like if it gets forwarded to them they’ll wonder why I didn’t put their name on it. But, then again, I don’t want to interrupt them or make them think this is some deeply profound thing that I’m saying, but they might want to know. And so, you have a tough time deciding how broadly to send it out.
Then again, if you just put information on a Web site, then people don’t know to come visit that Web site, and it’s very painful to keep visiting somebody’s Web site and it never changes. It’s very typical that a lot of the Web sites you go to that are personal in nature just eventually go completely stale and you waste time looking at it.
And so, what blogging and these notifications are about is that you make it very easy to write something that you can think of, like an e-mail, but it goes up onto a Web site. And then people who care about that get a little notification. And so, for example, if you care about dozens of people whenever they write about a certain topic, you can have that notification come into your Inbox and it will be in a different folder and so only when you’re interested in browsing about that topic do you go in and follow those, and it doesn’t interfere with your normal Inbox.
And so if I do a trip report, say, and put that in a blog format, then all the employees at Microsoft who really want to look at that and who have keywords that connect to it or even people outside, they can find the information.
And so, getting away from the drawbacks of e-mail — that it’s too imposing — and yet the drawbacks of the Web site — that you don’t know if there’s something new and interesting there — this is about solving that.
The ultimate idea is that you should get the information you want when you want it, and we’re progressively getting better and better at that by watching your behavior, ranking things in different ways.
Unfortunately there is no RSS feed (nor trackback URL) on his site.
Other comments on the Bill Gates’ speech are available from Lee Lefever, BBC NEWS – World Edition, Kathleen at the Otter Group, and Cutting Through; among, I am sure, many others.
We have the basic functionality set up for community of practice on the LearnNB website.
All new information will be posted there.
Jay’s comments on this week’s meeting of the Learning Economics Group. Jay has added to Brenda Sugrue’s initial conceptual model, giving us his usual insight into this fuzzy world of learning, technology and business. I like the fact that Jay is pointing out the power relationships (e.g. Boss’s Ego) as well.
Attended a teleconference session of the Learning Economics Group today. This is a non-profit group focused on conducting research, developing tools, databases, forums and the creation of a virtual discussion ?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½ï¿½space?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½Ñ¢ for professionals, policymakers and others about Learning Economics. LEG kicked-off in early April, but there is already a lot of interest worldwide in their research agenda, from all sectors. FYI, Learning Economics is defined by LEG as the study of the strategic value of learning, both formal and informal, and its economic impact on a corporation or organization.
Attendees included professionals in the field from Shell, Cisco, HP, BYU, SRI, and two Canadians! After introductions, Dan Blair from HP, with Brenda Sugrue of ASTD, gave the main presentation on setting a learning economics research agenda. A key concept in this presentation is the shift of Tangible versus Intangible Assets on the S&P index from 38% intangibles in 1982 to 85% intangibles in 2002. Most economic value is now intangible (think knowledge and knowledge workers). As someone stated, we now know the problem, but we don’t know the answers to "managing" intangible assets. A lot of participation and commentary from attendees, such as Eilef Trondsen and Jay Cross, et al.
Check out the website and join the group, participate, and contribute to the already significant resources that have been contributed by members.
Is there interest in the region to become a special interest group (SIG) and contribute to this forum? I will continue to participate and provide comments to the LearnNB (loosely coupled) community.
We’re making progress with the new website. Luc at the NRC IIT elearning group is helping us get set up with our blog and collaborative space. In the spirit of further exploring the open source model, this will be on a linux server. I will transfer over most of the contents of this blog to the new site – but in the meantime please continue to post any comments or suggestions here. If you feel shy, then send me an e-mail.
I met with some community members in Fredericton last week, and would like to meet face2face with others, so contact me if you’re interested in discussing R&D issues. My budget allows me to travel within the Maritimes; beyond that it will have to be on the phone 🙁