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Digital Habitats KMLF Background Slides
 

Digital Habitats KMLF Background Slides

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Some background slides promised as context for the participants of the November 11th KMLF gathering in Melbourne, Australia.

Some background slides promised as context for the participants of the November 11th KMLF gathering in Melbourne, Australia.

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  • The word "community" rolls off many tongues as a central form for learning. Do we really know what we mean by this? Are there contexts where alternatives such as individual, paired or network configurations would be more useful? What are the differences and how do we discern what to use when? Is it time to jump on or off the "community bandwagon?" Let's explore! http://www.flickr.com/photos/sporkist/157543688/ Uploaded on May 31, 2006 by sporkist
  • These roles and practices create the conditions that enable people to….
  • The proliferation of internet based tools has expanded what it means to "be together" with others for learning, work and pleasure. How do we, as learners, educators and designers decide when to focus on the individual, the group or the wider network? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? How does our choice inform our selection of tools and methods? And what about all the gray area "in between" each of these? We'll explore how we might navigate these spaces and play with a few heuristics you can take back with you.
  • It starts with “me” - each of us as individual actors and learners in the world. How do we learn? What motivates us? And when are we best served as independent actors?
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/27126314@N03/2956992219/ The next stage along the continuum – and I stress that this is a continuum – is the “we” - bounded groups with an explicit shared purpose. As we move from me to we, the purpose may be emergent, fuzzy and we may just be creating the boundaries of the group. But for today, I'll focus mainly on formed, explicit groups.
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/gustavog/9708628/ Finally, at the other end of the continuum – which I now think of as a circle, by the way, instead of a linear continuum, is the network. This is the network that we can now visualize and participate in more than any other time in human history because of technology. This is the “new” part of the game when we think about learning, because network participation is no longer constrained as it was by time and distance for many of us. (Not for all of us... we'll come back to that)
  • So let's do a little comparing and contrasting of this circular continuum. You can be clear when we talk about the individual, me. We can be clear when we have bounded communities with clear establishment of in/out membership. We can also have communities with fuzzy boundaries, which may even be networks. If there was a subliminal sign flashing across this slide, it would be saying “IDENTITY.” identity shows up differently across this continuum and identity can be linked to purpose and boundaries. http://www.zengestrom.com/blog/2005/04/why_some_social.html (Social-material networks)
  • You can be clear when we talk about the individual, me. We can be clear when we have bounded communities with clear establishment of in/out membership. We can also have communities with fuzzy boundaries, which may even be networks. These different boundaries influence the power dynamics that occur between people. It influences processes of leadership and other roles. It defines levels of trust and privacy – which are not always closely linked as we move to the network level. http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/bonnie_bassler_on_how_bacteria_communicate.html
  • Finally, the tools we use can vary across the continuum. We'll talk a bit more about this later.
  • When I travel (which I do a lot), people often ask me what I do. I find this a very challenging question. My mom keeps wishing there was a one-liner she could tell people when they ask “just what is it that your daughter does.” Alas, my work doesn't fit nicely into a little cube. I work in the network and my work is network-like, connecting across the domains of collaboration, communication, technology, group process, and a bunch of other little things. This is not a satisfying answer to most people. But a few months back someone asked a new question, one that made me think deeply about my work and see it in a new way. They asked... Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/watz/1472273440/ Uploaded on October 2, 2007 by watz
  • The starting point is often a person's desire to either learn something from “an expert” (itself a loaded and often questionable term) or get an external perspective. What my colleagues often report is feeling alone and unsupported in their work. Some are so constrained, they refer to it as being imprisoned in a way that keeps them from really doing their work, or tapping into the deeper possibilities of their work. They want to go beyond “check the box” on the log frame analysis, but see little light at the end of the tunnel to do so. Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/onkel_wart/2487637968/ Uploaded on May 12, 2008 by onkel_wart
  • Being fully heard by someone else (preferably someone they respect and who has some external respect – that ties into the third point of validation) is akin to bringing light into the dark room, to illuminate both the substantive domain issues and they personal and often emotional contexts of the work. It is sometimes uncomfortable to talk about the emotional side of work in our organizations, but in my experience it has been crucial. Support means far more than a comforting “I understand.” Some of the elements including holding up a mirror so a person or team can see their own strengths in a new light. Asset identification and amplification. Identifying specific learning and practice needs in a very practical, task focused way. So the emotional part is woven immediately into practical work. Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/muehlinghaus/240944635/ Uploaded on September 11, 2006 by [ henning ]
  • The support part of the triangle identifies what types of learning, resources and practitioner connections might be useful. This is the connection bit of triangulation. An external community or network is a fantastic resource because most often it does not impose more hard costs on the person's organization (which might very likely be vetoed), it provides expertise, a place to ask and answer questions and learn, a place to find resources and experience one's practice in a fuller ecosystem, rather than in the isolation of one's own job. The connection to a community of practice or wider network however, becomes the field out of which the fruits of the ongoing triangulation live and breathe. It can take over the role of the person who provided the initial support, and it can also become the place for external validation, the next bit. http://www.flickr.com/photos/mathemagenic/4014282560/ Photo Credit: (And really interesting story) Uploaded on October 15, 2009 by Lilia Efimova This photo requires a whole of Creative Commons trail: - This is a piece of the photo made by Gauri Salokhe . - The original photo depicts a part of the visual summary of the huddle discussions at KM4Dev workshop made by several people , including myself. - I actually did the triangulation bit above and then others jumped in with coloring. - I think Nancy White was the one bringing triangulation as part of the discussion summarised here. Nancy also coached us on doing visual reporting. 
  • I want to add a specific note here on the value of the connection to the external network, particularly because sometimes when I talk in terms of NGO work, people say “this can't work in business organizations because of competitive issues. First, NGOs are hugely competitive, even though they have a supposed shared common good or outcome they are working towards. They compete for resources, often through branding and “WE DISCOVERED THIS HERE” approaches. These are survival mechanisms, but they often block the very learning and innovation that is required in the work. External communities and networks bring diversity of thinking that we need for innovation. Even when we can't talk about ALL of the specifics of our work, we can always talk about something about our work. So creating space and permission for these extra-organizational engagements is in fact an astute investment and the risks can be managed. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/illustriousbean/571630048/ Uploaded on June 19, 2007 by illustriousbean iza
  • The third and very very important part of the triangulation is external validation. Folks in the middle often have a hard time getting their work seen, validated and thus supported for continuation or growth. Those beside and below them have little extrinsic or intrinsic motivation to pay attention. Those above them have little time, attention or motivation, especially in organizations where there is little latitude for risk taking, learning through “safe fail” (Dave Snowden's term) experiments (let alone FAILURES!) and when something succeeds, management more often needs to take credit for the success because thats how the politics of the organization work. One strategy we've used for external validation involves social media. When we – the people who are either doing direct support or the community/network members – learn about the success of the lone innovator in their organization, we tell the story externally. Of course, you check to make sure you are not messing with IP, rules etc. A blog post, a Tweet or a series of retweets shines a light on the work and success of the person. All of a sudden, “the boss” looks up. What's going on here? This is cool! Others think it is cool! Let's look into it ans support it. This external validation often best comes from credible people who work in the field. If X organization is having success, then Y is interested. All of a sudden, individual and organizational identity comes into play as a support of the learning, rather than a barrier. In the NGO “KM” world, the http://KM4Dev.org network has become an important player in this role. An added bonus, beyond the immediate support of the individual, is that organizations get a better line of site to where they are doing overlapping or complimentary work, and the motivated individuals from those organizations who are also members of the network start collaborating on both formal and informal learning and project work. Hey, think of the thousands of flowers might bloom! Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/exalthim/2063912337/ Uploaded on November 25, 2007 by Mr.Thomas
  • Sliders – as we think about how we pick, design and deploy technology, what sort of intentionality do we want with respect to these tensions? More importantly, how do we use them as ways to track our community’s health, make adjustments in both technology and practice.
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/angerboy/201582453/ The elements of time and space present a challenge for communities. Forming a community requires more than one transient conversation or having the same job title in completely different settings. The kind of learning that communities of practice strive for requires a sustained process of mutual engagement, and if mutual engagement is the key to learning, separation in time and space can make community difficult. How can a community sustain an experience of togetherness across the boundaries of time and space? How can members experience togetherness through shared activities if they cannot be together face-to-face? How can the togetherness of a few members (a small meeting, a conversation) become an experience the whole community shares?  
  • Technology creates “community time” that defies schedules and time zones, and “communal spaces” that do not depend on physical location. One obvious appeal of technology is its variety of solutions for dealing with time and space to achieve continuity and togetherness: to hold a meeting at a distance, to converse across time zones, to make a recording of a teleconference available, to include people who cannot be physically present, to send a request or a file, or to be up-to-date on an interesting project. In a community version of “time shifting” and even “space shifting,” togetherness happens in a variety of formats that enable participation “anytime, anywhere.” Practice issues: Community profiles as patterns of togetherness. How do we learn best. Respect the time of each member. Front or back channel, what problems to bring to the whole group.
  • Members of a community of practice need to interact with each other as well as produce and share artifacts such as documents, tools, and links to resources. Sharing artifacts without interacting can inhibit the ability to negotiate the meaning of what is being shared. Interacting without producing artifacts can limit the extent and impact of learning. Indeed, the theory of communities of practice views learning together as involving the interplay of two fundamental processes of meaning making: Members engage directly in activities, interactions, conversations, reflections, and other forms of personal participation in the learning of the community; members produce physical and conceptual artifacts—words, tools, concepts, methods, stories, documents, and other forms of reification —that reflect their shared experience and around which they organize their participation. (Literally, reification means “making into an object.”) Meaningful learning in a community requires both processes to be present. Sometimes one may dominate the other. They may not always be complementary to each other. The challenge of this polarity is how successfully communities cycle between the two.  
  • Technology provides so many new ways to interact and publish while supporting the interplay of participation and reification that it can profoundly change the experience of learning together. Technology enables new kinds of interactions, activities, and access to other people. It also provides new ways to produce, share, and organize the results of being together – through documents, media files, and other artifacts. Most important, it affords new ways to combine participation and reification. For instance, by providing a web-based whiteboard for a conversation, we are supporting new forms of co-authorship where we casually mix words, images and sounds with each other . Technology also pushes the boundaries of both interacting and publishing for a community. It makes it easier for the work of a community to be opened up to the larger world. It can allow a community to decide whether to publish artifacts and invite comments publicly or to hold them within the private boundaries of the community.
  • Examples of publishing and interacting (or participation and reification.)
  • Individuals and groups. Togetherness is a property of communities but individual members experience it in their own ways. A crucial point about learning within communities of practice is that being together does not imply, require, or produce homogeneity. Togetherness is a complex state that weaves communal and individual engagement, aspirations, and identities. Technology provides new opportunities for togetherness, but togetherness can lead to disagreement and the discovery that people see the world (including technology) very differently. Members use the technology individually, on their own. Some social trends contribute to the tension inherent in this polarity: Increasingly, individuals are not members of only one community; they are participants in a substantial number of communities, teams, and networks—active in some, less so in others. Communities cannot expect to have the full attention of their members nor can they assume that all their members have the same levels of commitment and activity, the same learning aspirations, and therefore the same needs. Conversely, members must deal with the increasing volume and complexity of their “multi-membership” in different communities. They have to find meaningful participation in all these relationships while preserving a sense of their own identity across contexts.  
  • One role of technology is to help manage the complexities of community life and individual participation. Technology can make the community visible in new ways through directories, maps of member locations, participation statistics, and graphic representations of the health of the community. It can provide tools for individuals to filter information to fit their needs, to locate others, to find connections, to know when and where important activities are taking place, and to gather the news feeds from their various communities in one place. In fact, multi-membership is becoming so prevalent that tools to manage the group/individual polarity are becoming an increasingly central contribution of technology.
  • Sliders – as we think about how we pick, design and deploy technology, what sort of intentionality do we want with respect to these tensions? More importantly, how do we use them as ways to track our community’s health, make adjustments in both technology and practice.
  • Three roles that I’ve been looking at are community leaders, network weavers and technology stewards. Community leaders are a more familiar role, helping defined groups achieve specific goals over a period of time. “Helping” may mean creating conditions, supporting the emergence of relationships or individual and/or group identity, managing, etc. Network weavers are a new role (See the work of June Holley et al at http://www.networkweaving.com/blog/) – “people who facilitate new connections and increase the quality of those connections.” In between community leaders and network weavers are technology stewards – they show up both in groups/communities AND networks.
  • Ten years ago, when someone wanted to set up a set of tools to support a community of practice, they called up IT. Install Lotus notes. “Give me a SharePoint set up.” And that was that. Communities rarely had control of their online environments. There was a gulf between designers and users. Unless of course, they were coders. Now we have access to a wide variety of tools, some of which are technically difficult to set up, and others that are available at a click of the button. Who is paying attention to these tools? Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dani3l3/364684710/
  • Technology stewardship is not a solo gig, but by, of and for the community. It is about that balance between control and emergence, between "self-organizing" and "organizing on behalf of others." It balances the wisdom of the group, with the reality of getting things done.
  • Stewardship typically includes selecting and configuring technology, as well as supporting its use in the practice of the community.” It’s not just an “up front set up role” but something that is part of the life of the community. Etienne Wenger says 'Design and little and practice a lot.'  That applies to any aspect of community leadership!
  • In our research of CoPs we noticed 9 general patterns of activities that characterized a community’s orientation. Most had a mix, but some were more prominent in every case. Image: Wenger, White and Smith, 2007
  • Here is an example drawn from the book “Red-Tails in Love: Pale Male’s Story -- A True Wildlife Drama in Central Park” by Marie Winn. Vintage Books, 2005 The book tells of a community of bird watchers in Central Park and exquisitely describes their practices. This is a predominantly face to face group that might use some social media, but not as their central way of interacting. They are a large, diverse group, but tightly geographically bound to Central Park in New York City. They might fill this spidergram differently than I might, but this is just an example! Image: Wenger, White and Smith, 2007
  • KM4Dev (http://www.km4dev.org) is a global network of practitioners interested in knowledge management and knowledge sharing in international development. Over 800 members are subscribed to the email list which had it’s origins in July 2000. It is both a well established but loosely bounded network that interacts primarily online, with once a year meetings that a small subset attend.
  • You can see how different groups have different priorities. It is a bit like a community activity “finger print.” The next step is to think about what tools support the different orientations.

Digital Habitats KMLF Background Slides Digital Habitats KMLF Background Slides Presentation Transcript

  • Making sense of the technology landscape for groups & communities Nancy White Full Circle Associates Digital Habitats
  • This knowledge thing... http://www.flickr.com/photos/sporkist/157543688/
  • enable people to…
    • discover & appropriate useful technology
    • be in and use communities & networks (people)
    • express their identity
    • find and create content
    • usefully participate
  • Tech + Social: Technology has fundamentally changed how we can be together
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecstaticist/2918198742/in/set-72157603453505459/ Go Solo?
  •  
  • Fly with the flock?
  • Roam the network?
  • Assumption: Social Learning (and? “social objects” and “socio-material networks la Engstrom...) http://mohamedaminechatti.blogspot.com/2009/11/laan-vs-activity-theory.html h
  • Many: Networks We: Communities Me: the Individual Personal identity, interest & trajectory Bounded membership; group identity, shared interest, human centered Boundaryless; fuzzy, intersecting interests, object centered sociality (Engeström)
  • Many: Networks We: Communities Me: the Individual consciousness, confidence level, risk tolerance, styles, emotion Distinct power/trust dynamics, shared forward movement or strong blocking, stasis, attention to maintenance, language Flows around blocks, less cohesion, distributed power/trust, change
  • Many: Networks We: Communities Me: the Individual Individual access, personal learning environments … Classes, informal learning cohorts, conferences, clubs… Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia,etc…
  • the CONTINUUM...
  • Triangulating to Outside Connections
  • Alone... in prison…
  • Hopefulness…support
  • Connection
  • Innovation…
  • External Validation
  • Frame #2 Polarities
  • Togetherness Separateness Interacting/participation Publishing/reification Individual Group
  • TOGETHERNESS SEPARATENESS http://www.flickr.com/photos/angerboy/201582453/
  • community time community space shifting engagement & rhythm...
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldcafe/227358678 / Participation Reification
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldcafe/227358678 / INTERACTING PUBLISHING
  • Vocabularies, tools, concepts, methods, stories, papers, pictures, reports… Conversing, experimenting, practicing, learning, planning…
  • INDIVIDUAL GROUP
  • Designed for groups, experienced as individuals Does not imply homogeneity Multimembership Attention
  • Togetherness Separateness Participation Reification Individual Group
  • Roles
    • facilitators
    • community leaders
    • technology stewards
    • network weavers
    • Independent thinkers
  • What the %&*# is a technology steward? http://www.flickr.com/photos/dani3l3/364684710/ Nancy White Full Circle Associates
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/dani3l3/364684710/ “ Technology stewards are people with enough experience of the workings of a community to understand its technology needs, and enough experience with technology to take leadership in addressing those needs…
  • Stewardship typically includes selecting and configuring technology, as well as supporting its use in the practice of the community.” Wenger, White and Smith, 2007
  • Frame #4 Orientations
  • … meetings … relationships … community cultivation … access to expertise … projects … context … individual participation … content publishing … open-ended conversation Community activities oriented to … Base material from: Digital Habitats: Stewarding technology for communities © 2009 Wenger, White, and Smith
  • activities oriented to … Example: The Birdwatchers of Central Park … open-ended conversation … meetings … projects … access to expertise … relationships … context … community cultivation … individual participation … content publishing Weekly bird walks, winter bird feeding fillings, irregular celebrations and events… Advocacy drives, adopt parts of the park, bird counts… The participation of the “Big Guns,” and “Regulars.” Mostly F2F Note when people missing… Invite people in Internal and External focus: Publishing, the “Register,” available to media… While everyone pays attention to the community, no centralized efforts… Anyone can bird watch, but sharing what you see/know is important…so the community accommodates both The “Register” (print) is central to community… Bump into another bird-watcher? Have a conversation… Base material from: Digital Habitats: Stewarding technology for communities, © 2009 Wenger, White, and Smith
  • activities oriented to … Community Name: KM4Dev global knowledge sharing network … open-ended conversation … meetings … projects … access to expertise … relationships … context … community cultivation … individual participation … content publishing Base material from: Digital Habitats: Stewarding technology for communities © 2009 Wenger, White, and Smith With only one meeting a year, large size and diversity, KM4Dev focuses on enabling individual participation. Community knowledge wiki, content management system to bring together resources. Email list is core of community activity Once a year and only about 10% do/can participate. When funding allows. E.G. supporting ShareFair Informally via the email list by asking/answering questions. Relationships mostly via meetings and core group. Strongly external – all resources public/shared. While everyone pays attention to the community, no centralized efforts…
  • activities oriented to … Birdwatchers and KM4Dev-ers … open-ended conversation … meetings … projects … access to expertise … relationships … context … community cultivation … individual participation … content publishing Base material from: Digital Habitats: Stewarding technology for communities © 2009 Wenger, White, and Smith
  • How do we enable people to…
    • discover & appropriate useful technology
    • be in and use communities & networks (people)
    • express their identity
    • find and create content
    • usefully participate
    ? ? ?
  • Epilogue Resources: www.technologyforcommunities.com Contact Nancy White nancyw at fullcirc dot com http:www.fullcirc.com @NancyWhite http://www.flickr.com/photos/poagao/527259905/