I had been asked to talk about “innovative” new technologies and of course the obvious out there at the moment was the old Web 2.0 stuff.
Getting the credibility
In order to get the “cred” I invited Sarah Stewart to guest facilitate with me. Sarah has a background of being a health practitioner in nursing and midwife along with working as an educator and researcher in higher education (in New Zealand).
The pitch relevance
The angle we took was about lifelong learning, extending professional networks through “non-traditional” means, and use these networks to create connections and relationships there by staying on the cutting edge of industry practice.
Given Sarah was now in Queensland (a smaller time lag than NZ thankfully), we went with plan C (plans A and B came a cropper at point of testing – Elluminate and Ustream – for one reason or another), Skype by video.
Note: you can NEVER NEVER test too much with this kind of presentation prior to the event
Sarah and I both used Mindmeister, a free collaborative online mapping tool to plan this session. It can be used both synchronously and asynchronously to develop a data set / picture.
You may need to open this image further to see the complexity of the planning. Mindmeister allowed us to make notes and also add links out to sites we thought may be of value to the audience during the presentation. It was invaluable in getting a sense of where we were going to go with this presentation and what we might possibly cover.
The testing and planning
Having been caught short at venues before – ie turning up and having tech failure / internet failure etc, I made it a mission to visit the Perth Entertainment Centre a week before to trial the connection, speed, bandwidth etc etc and work out what was and wasn’t going to work.
Glad I did. Elluminate bombed out. I have NEVER seen such issues with Elluminate ANYWHERE on ANY connection as I did there. We just could not get through the file wall with it (but could with everything else – go figure). IT came down and spent 90 minutes with me testing. They even took me off the conference network where clients pay, and put me on the staff network with still no joy. Finally they (not a clue how they did this) made my OWN network with still no love. We tried every config setting in Elluminate and the lappy but nadda. Interestingly I STILL say it was them. How can you NOT have port numbers to open up when it was so obviously looking for open ports /sigh….bygones…
What I insisted on for the day was cat 5 cabling. I knew I was going to be loading up the connection and wanted to ensure real stability (been there caught with that previously). I was promised such, and happily I thought it was going to be smooth(ish) sailing.
Presentation day [Pre-delivery]
I arrived 2 hours early. Yes…..paranoia of technical failure is a big motivator.
It took nearly half an hour to get the IT guy to come get me sorted (we had arranged a pre-time for setup outside of the room). I was set up on a bar (unfortunately empty), but that wasn’t an issue.
Everything ran like a dream – connections, opened all my tabs on browser, the presentation was working fantastic – I could hear and see Sarah.
Unfortunately I hadn’t used the wireless headset in a while and had forgotten to load the drivers. Never mind I had a back up plug in one.
The room broke at 10 am for morning tea. I had a 30 min window to unplug the computer, move to the room, plug it in and pop the ethernet cable in for my “stable” connectivity.
It appears IT hadn’t patched through the cat 5 cable to the port. At 10.27 am (3 mins before kickoff), there was a room full of people, sweat pouring off my brow; me hovering anxiously to the IT dude (who wasn’t looking happy either); I hadn’t connected to Sarah in the room;
I was still wanting the wireless headset, but was now doomed to be confined to the laptop on the podium, but, we go there at 10.35 – only 5 minutes late.
….the best laid plans of mice and men hey?
Well, I think it went ok – all things considered – here is a summary of my reflections.
a) they could at least hear Sarah clearly (we canned video early in – bandwidth obviously created issues)
b) it generated a lot of questions and internal group discussion around wellness, network support of wellness, educational value, organisational restrictions and limitations on technology, use & issues as a health practitioner, networking
c) there were still groups of conversations going when I left (always a good thing in my opinion)
d) Sarah was amazing. She is articulate, funny, intelligent, keen mind and the perfect person for this audience with her experience and industry background
e) I would have liked more time to look at some of the tools out there (waylaid by questioning – but that’s a good thing)
f) To me most of the room was engaged with session (although this might not be the case)
g) I need to get that damn wireless headset driver sorted – its caught me out before. I like to work the room and walk miles in a presentation – being stuck at a podium kinda sucked
h) the network issue from 10 am – 10.35 am pretty much had my brain frying and running out my ears. Although I planned for every single contingency I could – having 100% of an presentation running via an “unknown” connection is kind of scary (and a rush….and scary again). I did feel rattled at the beginning and had major dry mouth – weird, because public speaking doesn’t worry me – i think it was the tech probs that rattled me
Well, not sure really. I feel that as long as we opened the minds and exposed people to new thoughts and new ideas / ways of working then it can only be a positive outcome.
It will be interesting to see if we get anyone from this particular School participate in our 23 Things @ ECU: Learning 2.0 program later in the semester
So, it’s Day 2. It just so happens that Day 1 and Day 2 of this 7-Day Challenge are separated by several days err weeks, and as it happens, also a (new) year. On the plus side, I did manage to produce another few posts in between
Ok – so, Problogger says, “Answer a Question”. Luckly he has provided some tips / ideas if one does not actually get (currently) asked questions on their blog.
5. It takes you nearly 45 mins to remember how to log in to your blog site: The search a few weeks back for my login and password was easy, however the random /wp-admin at the end of my blog URL was the challenge! I mean, it just makes no sense to me what-so-ever! One would think there would at least be a /login at the end of the url or something just as sensible.
*Of course this IS assuming you even remember your URL.*
4.You re-bling your blog and again and again and again…. I think it is possible I have spend a majority of my waking computer time in the last week playing with themes, widgets etc. Image Source: Athena
3. You begin to covet the blogs of others: You spend an inordinate amount of time looking at the blogs of others and wishing you had kept going! Also a large proportion of time for me has been allocated to re-tweaking some old posts I didn’t like without really doing anything new. It kind of mesmerises me, hypnotic. Easier to read than to do I guess.
2. Developing grandiose ideas about what you are going to do with your newly revamped blog (see #4 and #5). I think I spend more time just THINKING about blogging and the things i want to say than actually doing anything about it. It develops into some kind of blog mania/obsession without actually putting finger to keyboard. Image Source: Ian Lloyd
1. Setting up multiple blogs and other related accounts to serve the plans of #2. For example
I have been stewing for a while over how to apply the use of mLearning and web2.0 in developing our staff at the university. This development context is not a teaching and learning one – that is the realm of another area of the university. The challenges I face are those of developing some 2000 staff in the areas of compliance, quality, core management systems, leadership development and soft skills such as communication, emotional intelligence, conflict management just to mention a few broad areas. I attended the mLearn 2007 conference 2 weeks ago, and this allowed me the time and reflection to pull together a number of ideas that have been solidifying in my head for a while.
The Strategic Imperative
We had a change of Vice-Chancellor 18 months ago at work. With that has come a change of direction, new strategic plan and a new ethos for going about our business at the university. While exemplary customer service has always been a hallmark of operation at ECU (embedded into the brand), the V-C has ramped this up to the point of being almost the driver behind all operations – keeping in mind students as the end point.
We have run a number of customer service offerings over the years, but all have been in a traditional face-to-face format. I have chosen to use customer service training as a pilot/case study for a more blended approach.
You have a concrete experience e.g. a customer service experience goes a bit pear shaped
You observe the outcomes of that experience e.g. dissatisfied customer, complaints, you are upset etc
You reflect about the different/alternative ways in which that experience could have been handled e.g. more empathy, not have a defensive response to the situation
Apply the alternative ways next time a similar opportunity arises –> cycle starts again
Shifting towards a learning organisation
The concept of a learning organisation is really well defined in this paper. I found that it to be a fantastic application of a theory into reality in an Australian organisation.
There are 8 basic elements to a learning organisation – my university seems to be making shifts towards a number of these elements. The one that I find really interesting and relevant to my job context is that of the Staff Characteristics. In a learning organisation, people learn and it is understood that mistakes as part of the learning process are understood. This concept is implicit in the use of Kolb’s experiential learning theory for developing the capacity of our staff.
Engaging the line managers
It is critical that Line Managers are as involved in the process as the participants. They will need to understand that line staff will need to have maybe 30 minutes on a daily basis to blog and reflect upon the days experiences.
An initial f2f workshop will be run, where staff can go through a variety of instruments such as the VARK, Honey & Mumfords LSQ, and the ILS to name a few. Discussion will then be facilitated around the implications of participants learning styles and their learning in the workplace. What does this look like? Potential challenges on the project? Possibly set up a buddy support system?
The perfect way to manage this experiential learning is through the process of blogging. Ideally I will have a number of staff from representative areas across the university participating in this pilot program. will be encouraged to reflect on all aspects of customer service as they encounter it in their lives, not just in their work context. Depending on the level of engagement, technical expertise I may even encourage some mobile logging for experiences/reflections that want to be captured on the fly.
Ning – A community of practice
I intend to pull participants together via the use of Ning (unless I find something better – maybe Vox?) This will allow staff to blog and share their reflections/learnings together. Ning will also be used as a resource repository for adding information on contemporary customer service practice, organisational customer service practice and anything else that participants feel is relevant.
Virtual Classroom – Elluminate
The use of Elluminate, currently on trial at the university will allow me to have any ‘workshops’ or ‘touching base’ sessions as required. A particularly attractive scenario as participants will be pulled from 4 campuses (3 metropolitan) and 1 regional.
Still trying to decide is there is any value in developing simple podcasting skills in the cohort. This may depend on the learning style preferences. Reflective learning via audio may be preferable for some staff. Will discuss this with participants maybe deeper into the program to ascertain the value.
Kirkpatrick Level 3
As this is not your typical f2f lockstep development scenario, the old happy tick and flick sheet is obviously not applicable. It is possibly best ‘measured’ through a Level 3 Kirkpatrick evaluation, where by the line managers are used as measure of behavioural change in the workplace. Ideally I see this program being run over approximately 6 months to allow any deeper learning to occur and behavioural change to take place. A harder model of evaluation that will require a greater proportion of my time, however it will give a richer picture of what is actually occurring.
I intend to collect a lot of data from this pilot and write a paper and have it published in some form of educational technologies journal.
To this stage I have found it difficult to collect any form of information about the actual application of these kinds of learning technologies for staff, in any other context than teaching and learning. There will obviously need to be development around the use of the tools and technologies, but that is just a means to an end and is not the actual pedagogical approach to this scenario.