I’m Claire Spiret and I have come a long way in a year, because the last 2 years I was a student helper at this conference #pelc12. So I never thought I would be here now, but I have managed to get here through my role…
I am an associate with the KTP. I’m sure some of you know but the KTP or Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is a government initiative that joins businesses and universities to help develop new practices. In this way universities are able to integrate organisational experiences and businesses are able to integrate academic advancements.
Our partnership is between the University of Reading and WAGGGS which is nothing to do with footballers but is the umbrella organisation for the girl guides and girl scouts around the world. They are a truly international organisation working in 145 different countries, in three official languages. They focus on developing the skills and experiences of women, and I am based particularly within the leadership and programme development team which provides programmes, events and support for leadership skills. Combined with the experience of our partners in Reading university, including Shirley Williams as our led advisor, this partnership gives a strong support to our project.
The project in particular is focusing on the WLDP which is WAGGGS’ flagship leadership development programme. Currently these programmes are week long events hosted in various locations around the world. These courses offer a fantastic international experience to a small group of women where they are able to develop their leadership skills, begin to understand the key theories in leadership work and to share their experiences with others. However this approach is very limited as the costs involved are very high with participants being flown across the world, as well as suffering from difficulties such as visa requests being declined. It was therefore decided that this needed to be extended so that the development opportunities are available to more of our members. This is where e-learning comes in. The objectives for our project is to use modern technologies to facilitate leadership development and international sharing via the internet. This will allow for more open access, for increased diversity of participants and for the development of digital skills.
We have been working on the project for just under a year now and there have been many interesting developments. These developments included many challenges, as you would expect within a project of this scale, but they have all been educational none-the-less.We have now completed our first prototype run and have learnt a lot about improvements to be made and challenges going onwards. These include….
One of the greatest aspects of our organisation is that we work in a truly international context, with 145 membership countries. This brings diversity which our members embrace and share; and it was therefore important to embrace within our e-learning context. It was therefore crucial to ensure that our participants represented this diversity, and our approach ensured that none of the work, or groupings were organised according to language, culture or time zone. However this also brings difficulties. One such difficultly that was particularly important for our e-learning course was our time-zone differences. The time differences of our participants ranged from six hours behind us to ten hours ahead of us. The difficulties with this were not only crucial within our structure of the course but also within the communication channels. Another online ‘global’ conference which I was part of found this very difficult and often forgot that we were on different times, often resulting in participants being awake at silly hours (something I’m sure you have all had to do!)It was therefore immediately obvious that we could not use synchronous technologies, however we have since seen the difficulties that time differences play on technologies such as forums or emails. For example a participant messaging us from the other side of the world about a problem would be sent at a time when I was asleep, I would then reply within my office hours and they were unavailable. This meant that what would have been a simple conversation about a problem took a few days to sort out.
Language: three different sides: written content, navigation and platform, user generated contentOfficial languages: there is also the frustration that whilst WAGGGS works within three official languages (French, English and Spanish) for many users this will still be their second, or third language. This is especially true of languages which are very different, such as Arabic or Japanese.
Tech: Different types of technology require different approaches and thinking, for example we found that users didn’t like the chat as much as the forums and messaging. When talking to a group of volunteers they discussed the importance of having time to think in their own language first. This therefore meant that instant messaging in chat rooms was much more difficult for them as they did not have the time to think in their own languages and then translate themselves, or use the support of tech such as Google translate (as a rough guide). This meant that English users get frustrated at the delay in responses in a chat room as they have an expectation of how these technologies should be used. Another requirement for the technology and the design of the course was to incorporate WAGGGS’ embedded value of cultural diversity. Grouping was a particular issue, an easy way to avoid these issues would be to group participants according to similar languages, time zones, etc. However this would remove the diversity exchange which is such a powerful part of the organisations programmes.
Another paper that our team formed, addressed the findings of the technological audit which we carried out across the organisation. This looked at a cross section of our members to assess their technological availability and capacity. Overall there is a high use and appreciation of technology within WAGGGS, across ages, cultures and languages. However there is not equal access to technologies and their technological capabilities vary around the world and within neighbourhoods. This could not be specified within any grouping such as Prenskys theory of natives/immigrants and was not applicable to any particular country. However it raises an important challenge for our project. The availability of technology therefore requires a level of flexibility to any course as individuals will have different times of access, for example some access at work others from public spaces, and levels of engagement, for example some many check in several times a day for short periods and others may check in for an hour at a specific time. This is greatly affected by the environmental pressures which change for all individuals, for example when I attended an event in Africa last year we experienced how difficult it is to organise virtual meetings on others schedules when three days of the week we had no electricity.
Another requirement for the technology and the design of the course was to incorporate WAGGGS’ embedded value of diversity.The activities that are used within WAGGGS have an innate awareness of the diversity which they incorporate, including the cultural differences, the varying ability levels, and age levels; and therefore activities are open in nature. This allows for members of all levels, and from all countries to work in away that suits them. In this way any course structure design for e-learning needs to incorporate this open approach which provides a structure and an aim but not the method. In this way they are also required to be creative in their approach.With our e-learning it is important to address the issues I have discussed in an open course structure which incorporates these aspects of our non-formal education, whilst also developing skills which are new. They also strive to incorporate learning style theory, so that learners are able to select their preferred learning approach, however part of our course needs to be the development of skills such as problem solving, leadership and digital communication in these situations. As such learning new skills is not comfortable but I feel that if you are comfortable then you already know it.
As you can see there are many different problems, and I am sure that you have experienced them at different times and on different levels.However there is light at the end of the tunnel, these issue are not insurmountable and we have made good progress towards the development of a solution towards answers to some of these problems in our organisation.We are still looking for some answers however I now want to talk you through our programme as it currently stands.
This structure shows the outline for one of our courses, this takes a sectional approach in a week-by-week programme. The first week…
Each week then comes with a topic with forum discussions, individual activities and group tasks; with time for reflection, feedback and evaluation. This negates the difficulties of time zones as it means individuals can communicate asynchronously, however it means that are still strong links to interactivity and group work. There is space for sharing, personal reflection, research and action. The deadlines means that they progress together but leaves the flexibility for those who cannot access regularly. The activities also incorporate the flexibility that is needed within our organisation as they are open tasks which can be completed as the users wish. However it does not withdraw from personal diversity, as groups are integrated and given space to share.Through the use of tools such as blogs and forums they are given the space to plan their contribution and then translate, and they will also have supportive tools such as glossaries.We are also using tools such as wikis to allow collaborative work and peer assessment workshops to allow opportunity to give and receive feedback.
In this way we are working towards a new approach to the organisations already successful Leadership Development Programme in a highly diverse organisation, opening it up to more girls and young women. Whilst also incorporating the non-formal education aspect such as flexibility and interaction with digital tools and the development of practical skills in technology and leadership development.We are by no means at the end of our journey, and we look forward to further development at our next on-line event in June, however we have developed an understanding of our environment, its challenges and we are making clear steps towards a more united approach.
Thank you very much for your time, I will take your questions now but if there are any unaddressed points please feel free to talk to me or find me on Twitter.
Consideration analysis for glocal learning
ConsiderationAnalysis for GLocal learning By Claire Spiret, Shirley Williams, Rachel McCrindle & Pangiota Yota Dimitriadi
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) is thegovernment’s premier knowledge transferprogramme that helps businesses andorganisations improve their competitivenessand/or productivity through the use of theknowledge, technology and skills that reside inacademic institutions.
The University of Reading is ranked as one of the UK’s 20 most research-intensive universities and is in the top 1% of universities in the world. We enjoy aworld-class reputation for teaching, research and enterprise.With ten million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from 145 countries across the world,the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) is the largestvoluntary movement dedicated to girls and young women in the world
Enables girls and young women to develop their fullestpotential as responsible citizens of the world, through: Non-formal approaches Values based learning Create an online space which: Reaches more girls and young women Enables leadership development Feels personal and connected
dbadesigns.com naturalhearing.co.uk Thinking time mergersandinquisitions.com
Despite offering the potential for ubiquitous education, there are concerns that the use of technology for educational delivery will further marginalise the deprived (Carr- Chellman, 2005). A similar vision and concerns about the use of ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) applies to their employment in the voluntary and community sector. It was felt that they would enhance active participation and support democratic practices (Trench & ODonnell, 1997). However, in practice a very top-down approach seems to exclude more internet-based community organisations from decision-making processes (Moll & Shade, 2004). zazzle.comArticle