November 20, 2008

CCK08 – “Be the change you want to see in the world”

Filed under: CCK08 — Tags: , , — Frank Polster @ 1:26 pm

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

I tend to see the glass as “half full” not “half empty” and therefore see opportunities. I have viewed learning as a lifelong pursuit and a mix of both formal and informal learning opportunities.  Roy Pea’s “Lifelong and Lifewide learning” graphic below, shows me that informal learning represents an opportunity. On the flipside there are barriers and challenges with that opportunity. This paper looks at those challenges for informal learning in the work environment that may well apply to the formal side. In my mind, the issue is not so much about the technology innovations, but with the culture.


A struggle to make sense of it all.

The last ten weeks of the CCK08 course have been, to say the least, an eye opener. The exposure to a whole new set of connections and folks that are deeply passionate with trying to make a difference in the future of learning. Trying to digest the points of views, the diversity, and connecting with the passionate intellectual energy was at times overwhelming — let alone trying to make sense of the right way to move forward.

Now what! How do I apply it? What can I do to contribute? How can I make a difference? How can I belong and how can I contribute to a set of connections that exist in a network that is intangible?

A theme that emerges is that the challenge is long term with no silver bullets or magic wands to wave over to generate instant solutions. Ideas do have substance in your mind as it connects and reflects and, at some point, becomes substantive in a plan, via actions and conversations. The path forward appears in the connected conversations – that you make a difference by what you do, the example you set and by your own contributions within a connected community – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Your persistent participation in the dialogue will make a difference.

George Siemens gave a presentation  “Learning Tech Strategy in Time of Change” as part of a week-long set of sessions – Corporate Learning and Innovations 2008 – that discussed a range of issues partly about the tools but did get at the cultural issue. Between the next presentations, that George moderated with David Weinberger (The Cluetrain Manifesto see chapter five), I got a chance to talk with George and my struggle with the third paper for CCK08.

The heart of the issue comes down to the scalability of the conversations that occur within these “bottom-up” Communities of Practice (CoP) and the need for leadership within the institutional frameworks to nurture the innovations that occur from the bottom up.

No easy or scripted solutions exist. There are, we agreed, some exemplars out there – Caterpillar on the corporate side and in government retired General Frank Anderson, President of Defense Acquisition University (DAU). Frank Anderson’s leadership has transformed a traditional brick and mortar institution with a redirected focus to its graduates/practitioners. The focus of the faculty and the institution’s emphasis is on the needs of the graduates/practitioners outside of the institutional setting – a commitment to their lifelong learning needs. That’s an example of leadership nurturing “bottom-up” Communities of Practitioners that has successfully bridged the cultural chasm and scaled the number of conversations.

The other issue that emerged from David Weinberger’s discussion with George, along with the scalability one, is rewarding collaborative contributions. David introduced the idea that we will require new sets of metrics — not solely based on quantitative metrics but also qualitative indicators. The qualitative factors might be – the person that is the sparkplug that energizes the team, or the person whose skills bridge differences, or a demeanor that embraces the diversity of views and adaptive in their approaches, etc. In the end though, it is still about a value proposition so that the quantitative and qualitative metrics are measuring the individual/communities value creation by leveraging their connected network.


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