AVO – A voyage to the open seas to study openness and a networking mode of operation
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AVO – A voyage to the open seas to study openness and a networking mode of operation

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This article summarises the project study report on the project Openness Accelerating Learning Networks (AVO2). The project study focused on how AVO2 progressed towards its goals, the smoothness of ...

This article summarises the project study report on the project Openness Accelerating Learning Networks (AVO2). The project study focused on how AVO2 progressed towards its goals, the smoothness of project work and the effectiveness of the project, applying the perspectives of project members as well as those of target groups. The project study report sheds light on the opportunities and challenges met when the working culture is open and networking; the report also compiles the lessons learned during the project and makes visible tacit information that might not otherwise appear in any project report. The results confirm and supplement those from the project study carried out for the project Open Networks for Learning (AVO) (Kalalahti 2012).

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AVO – A voyage to the open seas to study openness and a networking mode of operation AVO – A voyage to the open seas to study openness and a networking mode of operation Document Transcript

  • Project work assessment The first part of the  report offers a look into the project’s goals, describing the participants’ views of a networking mode of operation, the project’s coherence and the realisation of equality in the project network. In addition, this part describes the project’s communication tools and practices as well as its way of sharing good practices and failures. The follow- ing observations were made during the project work assessment: Goals specification From the very beginning, the project’s goals were clear to the people who were involved in the preparatory phase. Un- derstandably, it was more challenging for those to visualise the goals who joined the project once it already was under- way. In some cases, the connection to the original plan was lost due staff changes when people who had been involved in the preparation phase were transferred. According to some project members, the concrete measures to achieve the project goals became clear little by little as the project progressed. Project members felt that goals should be specified at an ap- propriate level of abstraction during the specification phase and project prepara- tion should involve closer cooperation from the very beginning. Project coherence A certain attitude was common to the project members, but some were clearly more ardent than others. The sense of togetherness with other project mem- bers varied among participants. Accord- ing to project members, the subprojects and even AVO2 itself did not necessarily offer easy environments to identify with. At the level of practical work, the project consisted mainly of four separate sub- projects. Concrete joint projects were a AVO – A voyage to the open seas to study openness and a networking mode of operation Yrjö Lappalainen | University of Tampere This article summarises the project study report on the project Openness Accelerating Learning Networks (AVO2). The project study focused on how AVO2 progressed towards its goals, the smoothness of project work and the effectiveness of the project, applying the perspectives of project members as well as those of target groups. The project study report sheds light on the opportunities and challenges met when the work- ing culture is open and networking; the report also compiles the les- sons learned during the project and makes visible tacit information that might not otherwise appear in any project report. The results confirm and supplement those from the project study carried out for the project Open Networks for Learning (AVO) (Kalalahti 2012). In short, the AVO2 project study produced the following observations:
  • few only, and project members usually knew no details of what others were do- ing. According to project members, work is not shared spontaneously; it would be necessary to plan cooperation in more detail during the preparatory phase. Communication and tools The internal communication of the AVO2 subprojects was determined largely ac- cording to who happened to be involved, and this led to significant differences among the subprojects in terms of prac- tices and tools. Communication was peri- odicandbasedonimmediateneed,which means there were long periods of scanty communication. The project members thought the Monday hangout, Monday letter and Yammer to be a good combina- tion. Project members expressed that a closer cooperation requires dialogue, not reporting. The members wished to com- municate more with one another but did not find a suitable mechanism during the project. Neither did the project have joint messages to communicate externally – such communication largely depended on individual participants. The proposal was made that these communication problems could be solved if subproject coordinators and other parties respon- sible for coordination met regularly and worked on texts to publish them in e.g. blogs. However, a shared blog was not in- troduced during the project. Good practices and failures According to project members, good practices were shared and discussed dur- ing the project, but the project had no shared documentation and storage pro- cedures for good practices. Some project members were critical about the concept of “good practice”: can good practices be parcelled up and carried forward as such? According to these project members, it is more important to be able to commu- nicate what has been done and under what conditions. Project members were encouraged to share their failures as well, but in practice, there was not much enthusiasm for this. Project members stated that it is a personal trait whether an individual is able to admit to failures – or even more, to share them publicly. A project member commented that failures may be difficult to identify and reflect on. Effectiveness assessment The second part of the project study report discusses the project’s effective- ness, applying the perspectives of project members as well as those of target groups. According to project members, AVO2 displayed methodologies, tools and environments and was successful in promoting openness and networking. The project awakened a great deal of dis- cussion, brought about cooperation and created and fortified many different net- works. The many publications, reports, learning and teaching materials and oth- er contents form a valuable reserve avail- able to all and ready for further devel- opment after the project. The project’s self-assessment of effectiveness, which was conducted using a four dimensional model, forms the basis for our statement that the AVO2 project was successful in all the dimensions measured by the mod- el: instrumental, conceptual, consultative and belief-creating. The views of the project’s target groups concerning the effectiveness of AVO2 were studied during certain training sessions and events organised by the
  • project. However, it is important to no- tice that the respondents to these inquir- ies represented only a fraction of AVO2 participants, and for some events and training sessions, the test sample was small. Therefore, this feedback does not justify generalisations about the project’s effectiveness. We can still state the fol- lowing about the training and events: • The feedback was mainly very posi- tive. • The training sessions offered useful examples and made the audiences more aware of the possibilities, chal- lenges and concepts relating to the subject areas. • In general, the respondents felt the subject areas to be useful. • The respondents learned many new things. • The respondents felt the training ses- sions encouraged them to try out the subject areas or to make more versa- tile use of them than previously. • Almost all respondents intended to make use of the subject areas “pos- sibly” or “absolutely”. • The most common challenges to as- suming new ways of working and new tools in the respondents’ work- ing environment include a lack of knowledge, resources and technical skills as well as a lack of understand- ing of the benefits. • Not many networks were created through the short-term training courses. • The respondents hoped to have more in-depth continuation courses. AVO2 in a nutshell Instrumental AVO2 functioned as a tool to make con- crete changes e.g. by producing materi- als, arranging training events and other events, establishing new networks and supporting the growth of current net- works. Conseptual Through training, events and publica- tions, AVO2 promoted the conceptual understanding of the subject areas of the project as well as openness and networking modes of operation. AVO2 awakened dialogue while it also clarified, established and confirmed new concepts relating to the subject areas the project dealt with. Consultative Through training, events and individual consultation, AVO2 supported its target groups in introducing new ways of work- ing. AVO2 produced instructions, guide books and case descriptions about new tools and practices. Belief-creating AVO2 promoted trust in new practices and tools by sharing good practices and success stories. The project itself was a sample case that showed us the possi- bilities of new ways of working and tools.
  • Openness Accelerating Learning Networks www.eoppimiskeskus.fi/en/avo In conclusion At the end of project interviews, the members were asked what was, in their opinion, the most important lesson learned during the project. After a moment of thought, a participant gave me the fol- lowing answer. I think this advice crystallises what AVO2 was basi- cally about: ”Be open yourself about your ideas and what you do. Tell others about it and turn an open ear to the ideas and doings of others. In that way, you will be able to connect people and resources, empowering them so that something new, unforeseen or even great can be born. Instead of presenting well-founded criticisms, present well-founded suggestions and solutions. Ask if we could not do something in a certain new way because the current way is not very good and the new way would be better.”