Posts Categorized: Communities


LearnNB had its first AGM today. This group is the overall organisation that includes the CSTD New Brunswick chapter. We have decided to put everything under one roof. The blog that I have started for the R&D community of practice will be linked to the main site, as well as the password-protected collaborative workspace. We are starting to align our technology and tools to enable collaboration throughout the province, and there seems to be a real willingness to work together. We will be hosting a CSTD Symposium this Spring (probably May) so stay tuned to the LearnNB site for more information.

Business seems to be picking up in the sector, especially for our private online universities, Lansbridge and Yorkville. New Brunswick’s legislation makes it easier for online universities to establish here and faster to get accredited.

My Kind of Workplace

Of course this had to start in California. The Gate-3 Workclub sounds like the perfect place to spend your workday. With a day pass or a monthly fee you can have access to common areas, phone services, private workspace, coyping services and much else. I think that we’ll be seeing more of these workplaces in the near future with the increase in micro-enterprises and project-based collaborative work. The operators state that it is more than a workplace, Gate-3 also provides:

Community with a work group that shares the day to day challenges and joys of an independent work-style.

Guidance and examples from work colleagues to help you with everything from balancing your work/life to using a PDA.

Support staff that will be there for you month after month and year after year.

Access to the latest in productivity tools, techniques and technologies without having to chase the latest fads.

The reassurance of knowing theres always someone on hand to help.

And there is a blog. Via Business Opportunities Weblog.

Great Value from NRC’s e-Learning Group

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.

Consensus Building from the Oneida Nation

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.

Open Source Community

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.

New eLearning R&D Blog

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 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.

Learning from the past

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 introduces Blogs to The Suits

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.

Via Mathemagenic.

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.