Sunday, October 15, 2006

Melbourne Presentations

I’m sitting here in my Darwin hotel, taking a brief break from the sun and warmth to recall last week’s presentations. As promised, I’ll uploaded the slides (again using SlideShare). It just may be later as internet is a pricey $.55 AU dollar per minute!

Wednesday morning I presented via Elluminate (an online meeting tool) the “8 Competencies of Online Interaction” to the KnowledgeBank Conference.

We had about 50 people in the online room. It is interesting when you present to a group of people you can neither hear or see for the most part. I was greatful to those who spoke up with questions and observations. I mentioned to my host, Tamara Carpenter that I was worried that the presentation was a bit theoretical, but as it turns out, the competencies “named” at the start of this two day online conference were apparently echoed over and over again over the subsequent days and presentations.

On Wednesday afternoon, Shawn Callahan of Anecdote and I did a 2 hour workshop to the VPSCIN group. ( About 60 folks, mostly from the public sector, gamely took part in the set of activities Shawn and I brought. We started with a quick 15 minutes on the “Three…almost…Four Tensions” (slides below). This comes out of the work I have been doing with Etienne Wenger and John Smith. The tensions offer a way to look at how we design and live in our distributed group. After this short intro, Shawn and I took the questions and situations that people had posted on the VPSCIN blog prior to the event, and took turns looking at them from the “tensions” perspective. We did not prepare this in advance and did it as an improvisational bit. Then we asked everyone to discuss at their tables how the tensions show up and inform their work with their groups and communities. Afterwards we shared out the things that surfaced in the conversations.

Some of the comments included:
· Now that we've heard about the tensions, we need to analyze how they show up in our communities and DO something with them.
· The tensions are dynamic
· Interested in thinking about tools and methods to monitor the tensions
· In some settings there is the additional tension of security < -- > collaboration
· The example of the wiki based team newsletter is an example of working within the tension of togetherness over time and space.
· The tensions give us a language to speak about tools and barriers
· We begin to notice the small things (tech, processes) that turn us off (and can then think about how to address them)
· New tools and processes --> easy to buy in, easy to sell out
· relationship between anonymity and sharing information
· Tension between the core and the periphery
· Helpful to look at community roles
· Look at why use communities of practice - "WIFM" (what's in it for me) - tension between individual (self interest) and group

Special thanks to our host Frank Connolly, VPS Continuous Improvement Coordinator, State Services Authority. He picked a great location too. The event was at the top of a skyscraper with beautiful views of the city.

Afterwards it was over to Federation Square for a beer! That’s the way to top off a day!

Converge 2006 Conference
in Sunshine was next up on Thursday. My hosts were the amazingly energetic Margaret Aspin and Clint Smith. Who knew they were not only professional leaders, but actors and comedians!

I was the day’s keynote to an audience off 200 plus that filled the auditorium. I had the good fortune to have Marie Jasinski and Marty Cielens warm up the crowd first with a humorous sketch on “Rewirement, not Retirement.” This time the title was “The Vortex: Experiments in Online Collaboration.” I went more in depth with the tensions and in fact got so into it that I left insufficient time at the end for the examples I had prepared, and NO time for question. Uh oh. I was a little worried that this talk was the kind that appeals to half the room and lacks sufficient practical grounding for the other half. Can you see I worry about this a lot?

I had the chance to attend other sessions and it was great to see what my Australian colleagues are cooking up around online learning. There is a great deal of creativity in the vocational education sector that I just don’t see at home.

Finally I ran a 30 minute workshop on the “8 Competencies,” this time with a very abbreviated set of slides and comments. We paused after each competency and I asked people to turn to their neighbor and suggest one way in which they were strong in that competency, and one way they wished to improve. At the end, we all had a list of our strengths, areas for learning and people around us with whom we could learn. The half hour flew by. I was having a great time using this approach and I think the group did as well. One person came up to me afterwards and said that after the morning’s keynote, he was not so sure of the applicability. But by following it on with the 8 competencies, it all fell into place. That was a good moment of learning for me. I had not really thought of the two as two parts of a larger whole, but indeed they are. The competencies can also be expressed in terms of the tensions. I’ll have to play with that a bit more.

The rest of the day I enjoyed sessions and the evening’s banquet and elearning take off on Australian Idol, this time Podders Idol. I’ll have to see if anyone blogged about this. It was hysterical!

Slides soon!

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