Monday Video: Don’t sit on your community ASSets

David Wilcox captures the amazing and vibrant Jim Diers on asset based community development. Solid, back to basics, folks. Worth a seven minute watch.

Write them down. Talk about them. LIVE THEM!

P.S. Say Happy Birthday to my dear husband Larry who turns 60 today! WOO HOO!

Trolling for keynote inspiration #1

Every time I prepare for a keynote presentation (Title: LEFT AND RIGHT, UP AND DOWN: CONNECTING GROUPS AND NETWORKS) I sit with three big buckets to work on:

  1. What IS the focus (as I have a busy, full brain that can go down ratholes in a nanosecond)
  2. What is the balance of performance, sharing and engagement?
  3. Who is inspiring me right now.

I wanted to share some of my answers as a way of thinking and prepping for my keynote next Thursday in Melbourne at ConVerge, and a subsequent massive set of shorter workshops on facilitating online learning in the following weeks. Thinking out loud with you really helps me. Did you know that? Thank you.

In this first post I’m going to start with the inspiration, because that’s where I feel the need this morning. I seriously don’t want to start in old PPT. I have tons of glorious images. I can DRAW glorious images. So what. Who cares. I want to MOVE people when I’m in Australia and I want to be OF VALUE. So there! Let’s talk inspiration…

Jim Groom – Occupy Education

I love Jim and he drives me crazy. In a good way. Clearly he leads with passion. He follows with conviction and he IS a performer. He blends the three buckets into a nice stew. He also alienates me a itty bit, which is good. I can’t step away. The edginess is something I often lack — authentic edginess. Not performance edginess.

I have seriously considered doing this:

Any other inspiring clips to share with me? As I scanned my YouTube favorites, clearly I have not been keeping track of great keynote presentations. I mean, look, THIS inspires me!

Educational Change is a Team Sport

Great stuff from Ellen Wagner that resonate with some of the conversations we’ve been having across the #change11 MOOC on Technology, Change and Education. Take a peek:

Education transformation really is a team sport. Old ideas don’t just fade away. Old ideas can be stubborn and relentless. Systemic change calls for many contributors. There are many variables to address, much practice and dedication required to develop expert skills. Transformation demands a clear understanding of what is to be changed, AND the will to see changed implemented. And with all due respect to everyone who claims the ID [instructional designer – nw] badge…We simply can’t afford to all think the same way.

For real change – true transformation – we need all ID hands on deck. Scholars, analyts, artists, technologists, evaluators, and managers alike. Big thinkers. Expert practitioners. People who can translate big ideas into actionable strategies and tactics driving real results about things that matter to the communities and stakeholders we purport to serve.

via On Secret Handshakes and Making the World a Better Place with ID – eLearning Roadtrip.

We have also been struggling with metaphors like rhizome, nomads and social artists. “Team Sport” is another one that has its pros and cons. What I’m really sensing is that we are trying to live into the world of learning in a new way, and our labels fail us.

OK, nuff for a quick, throw off post. Back to work!

Why chat streams are critical to live events

handcuffs cc Some rights reserved by incognito2020
cc Some rights reserved by incognito2020

AK nails it!

Last week I was a virtual attendee at the annual Sloan-C conference. It was fun and educational enough to spend 3 days watching live streamed sessions, and a saturday catching up on some recorded ones. The recorded ones are not as fun since you dont have the twitter stream going :-

via Multilitteratus Incognitus: Campus vs. Online: fighting in the family.

This is what I’m ‘talkin about! And it is not just applicable to webinars but to all synchronous online interactions regardless of the tool. It applies to telephone calls. Providing and/or encouraging text based peer to peer and peer to the world interactions creates opportunities to engage those who would otherwise tune out. Does it distract? It sure can. Does it fracture engagement into smaller cohorts or with those “outside” of the virtual room? You bet. And we can use that as an asset, not a strength.

The risk? The presenter will become irrelevant. And that too may be a good thing. If the presenter cannot skillfully engage, and they become only a conveyance for content… well, maybe they should switch roles and we run a video with a chat channel. I’m only partly kidding. How often have you clicked into a webinar on one of those platforms which makes you send all your comments to a moderator, which has no participate peer to peer chat room and felt like a prisoner with your hands tied? Last night I was talking with the fab Michael Coghlan of Australia (we were talking about flexible learning, natch!) and those were the words he used. “I felt like my hands were tied.” Is that any way to have a meeting, to work together or to learn together? NO WAY, BABY! (yes, I’m ranting this morning)

There are  SO MANY ways we can use chat streams productively. Here are two sets of tips – one for the “presenter” or leader, and one for participants. This is just a starter. What are YOUR tips? COMMENT PLEASE (and feel free to SHOUT. This feels like a SHOUTING topic!)

A Few Tips for  Presenters and Webinar Leaders

  • Ask great questions and have people answer in the chat room. If there is no chat room in the tool you are using, make one else where or use a hashtag and Twitter. Don’t let the technology stop you. (I did in a webinar last month and I regret it. )
  • If you can’t track the chat room and present, get someone to help you to recap and weave in the chat with your work. Some people can do this while they are presenting, some need to wait until a designated Q&A time. Both are legitimate approaches but it is worth TELLING the participants what you need to best engage with them instead of feeling over stressed yourself. That does no one any good. Be honest. People will support you when you ask for their help. They will detest you if you simply ignore them!
  • If the topic is NOT suitable for public sharing via Twitter, say that upfront and ask people to “keep it in the room.” Don’t assume people will automagically know this. Transparent ommunication is a great thing!
  • Keep the chat transcript and or Twitter hashtag aggregation (ask me if you don’t know what this is) and look at it afterwards. If there is more to follow up with, create a blog post or other appropriate mechanism to share that follow up. (Example here) People love it when you show active listening even if it is asynchronous. They are being heard. That is part of being a #socialartist! (First link is explanation, second is Twitter hashtag)
  • Frustrated that no one is “listening” and they are all chatting? After the event, review your presentation and figure out how to make it more interesting/compelling and DESIGN for participation next time. If you are just delivering content or a performance, record it. Sweet!

A Few Tips for  Participants

  • Find out or ask what the practice/conventions are for chat in the event you are joining. If they don’t know what you are talking about, share some ideas. Don’t be the victim. It’s a waste of time and energy!
  • If you are a fast typer, be careful not to dominate and squeeze out others. Take  a break every now and again. A hog is a hog in text or through speaking!
  • Ask good questions if the presenter isn’t or is unable to. This helps engage your peers. Again, avoid victimhood!
  • If Twitter/public interaction is OK and there is no hashtag, suggest a nice short one and get things going. Leadership!
  • Capture and share Twitter and chat transcripts for the uninitiated. There is often a pile of gems waiting in these artifacts.
  • Think the presenter could have done better? Walk in their shoes a few times, and if you are great at it, offer to give them coaching. If not, remember the power of compassion…

OK, add your ideas! Let’s liberate webinar participants from listen only confinements.

Reflecting on #socialartists and #change11

My week facilitating #change11, a very massive MOOC, flew by too fast for me to blink. (See these previous posts for more background.) Between being on the road so much and the distributed nature of the conversations, my head was spinning by Friday and it has taken until today to slow down, reflect and write. I’d like to reflect on both the content and process of “week 8” where we focused mostly on the idea of “social artists” in learning and technology. Well, honestly, mostly just on the social artist bit. As always, I was too ambitious in my planned scope. I am happy it narrowed down to social artists. That was enough!

First, the process. #Change11 is structured around whatever theme or idea the facilitator of the week offers. Up until now that has been kicked off by a piece of writing, a recording or some structured artifact where the facilitator shares his or her big ideas around change, technology and learning. There is at least one synchronous event per week (more often two) hosted on the platform formerly known as Elluminate (now BB Collaborate, and I think worse for the transition). There is the #Change11 daily which aggregates posts from the lead facilitators (George Siemens, Stephen Downes and Dave Cormier), posts and tweets tagged with #Change11. There are some quasi-centralized discussion outposts on Facebook, Google+ (see this tool to find Change11 circles on G+)  and Moodle, but most of the action seems to be on blog posts/comments and Twitter. In other words, the landscape one might traverse for learning and sensemaking is broad and diverse. I’m not the only one trying to make sense of this. See “We are always catching up” http://squiremorley.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/change11-playing-catchup-part-3/#comment-190 and https://jennymackness.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/the-selfish-blogger-syndrome/#comment-1666

Of course, I didn’t structure my week around a piece of writing. I was interested in explore the experience of change and how the social artist plays a role in that experience. Instead of content slides, I ginned up a deck full of questions and whiteboard templates inviting people to express themselves together visually, textually and if so moved, to grab the mic. (The before and after slides are here, but don’t expect them to make much sense as a stand alone presentation, and more like digital traces of what we did together. ) I ended with a challenge to find stories of social artists in their learning lives and to blog and or tag them #socialartist. And of course I scheduled both session late in the game, giving few time to get it on their calendar. Did I mention I have been busy? Can you read my sense of guilt between the lines? Yup. Giulia Forsythe then invited me to a follow up session later on Monday, and we had a final hour on Friday where George and Stephen interviewed me which was both interesting and weird. I think I got a little verclempt. Ahem! Judge for yourselves!

I then tracked tags to try and read and comment on most of the blogs that either blogged in general on the #socialartist idea or took up my challenge. Here are a few of the links (and yes, I’m still catching up commenting on some of them! DO look at the comments in these posts! Lots to think about)

Here are some of the tweets archived into a Tweetdoc.

So now the content. The alleged synthesis and sense making. NOT! I don’t think I can do it, but here are the things that have been emerging for me through all these distributed conversations.

What IS a social artist?

So, what is a social artist and why did I think it might be relevant to #Change11? I’m not sure we landed on a clear definition. I started with the concept I borrowed from Etienne Wenger-Trayner, who has talked about the social artist as a person who makes the space for the social aspect of learning. Here is a quote from him from 2008 on David Wilcox’s blog which really resonates for me:

“The key success factor we’ve found is learning citizenship where learning citizenship is a personal commitment to seeing how we are as citizens in this world. Let me give you an example: I know an oncological surgeon in Ontario, Canada who asks himself how to provide the social infrastructure for patients to learn about cancer. An act of learning citizenship is to be able to use who you are to open this space for learning. I’ve come to call these people social artists, people who can create a space where people can find their own sense of learning citizenship.

“I love social artists. In fact I worship them. First because social artists know how to do what I only know how to talk about; and second because I care about the learning of this planet. I think we are in a race between learning and survival. We live in a knowledge economy where any expertise is too complex for any one person. One person can’t be an expert so anyone who can give voice to that need to work together is a social artist.

“I do a lot of consultancy work for training community leaders, but in my heart of hearts I know the real secret of those social artists is not something I can teach. The real secret of those people is knowing how to use who you are as a vehicle for opening spaces for learning.  I don’t really have the words – but I just know when I see it. It is a way of tapping into who you are and of making that a gift to the world … it’s about being able to use who I am to take my community to a new level of learning and performance.

“I want to leave you with three questions…

  • How can you act as a learning citizen in this world?
  • How can we as a group help , sustain, celebrate that capability among ourselves? If EQUAL has done a bit of that – how do we capture it, nurture it cherish it?
  • For those of you who are movers and shakers – how can you build an institutional structure that enables people to find their voice in the interests of the people they want to serve? Social artists need to fight … How can we enable a structure that enables those people to do the work that they do?

“These are urgent questions. Social innovation is a matter of the heart, not just projects. We need you to do that for the world, not just Europe”.

You can also hear Etienne talk about social artists (as well as other community issues) in this keynote from September’s ShareFair in Rome. The sketchnote above is from that session.

Jean Houston defines social artistry as:

Social Artistry is the art of enhancing human capacities in the light of social complexity. It seeks to bring new ways of thinking, being and doing to social challenges in the world.

…Social Artists are leaders in many fields who bring the same order of passion and skill that an artist brings to his or her art form, to the canvas of our social reality. (See also the Jean Houston Foundation page)

As I juxtapose Etienne and Jean’s meanings of the concept, I am finding out how to link  the roles to learning. From Etienne’s questions “How can you act as a learning citizen in this world? How can we as a group help , sustain, celebrate that capability among ourselves?” I hear the call to recognize the social acts of learning more explicitly and to attend to the people with social artistry skills. Nurture and recognize them. At the least, remove barriers to their participation. From Jean, I glean the parallels of passion and skill from art forms, to the social canvas.

The other thread was the juxtaposition of “social” and “artist” — where some had the concept of the solo artist, working alone to create a product of their work, while here the canvas is not only ephemeral through the interaction of people, but the role is inherently WITH people and social, not solitary. One person also noted the tension between the idea of a scientist and an artist which is to me one of the artificial constructs we create by dividing art and science. They have roots which intermingle.

Here are some links where people really picked up on the art part, which thrilled me.

In case you want more on visual practices, check out https://onlinefacilitation.wikispaces.com/Visual+Work+and+Thinking

Why is social artistry useful?

As the week went on and we sought out examples of social artists, and as we did this, I also realized it was useful to tease apart the social artist as a person (their role, skills, talents, way of being in the world) and the practices of social artistry which are often named as process arts, facilitation, network weaving, etc. People pointed a lot to specific practices, like the power of engaging people in using the white board in the online webinar space, how to use both silence and music instead of talking all the time, commenting on others’ blogs, helping them feel heard, designing connecting out into the world into her classroom, asking great questions, and such. I think people really resonated with these familiar practices, but we struggled with the less tangible ones. Like the kinds of people who just open up and hold space for people to be together and learn. The people who do that lightly and without manipulation. The people with big ears, big hearts and generosity of spirit. How do you tie that tangibly to education when we haven’t a clue how to measure it and I think many of us wonder if it can be learned, or it is something some of us just carry with us. The “fluffy bunny” stuff which I know, in my heart, is not fluffy at all, but very profound. I have seen the difference “being seen, heard and loved” means to people. But I can’t call it out in clear, intellectual terms that some people sought. I could not answer them. At the same time, I felt a quick kinship to those who recognized it. Are we finding our tribe? I don’t know.

Finally, it was very interesting to note that both the experiences of the synchronous gatherings (particularly the first one) and the concept of social artistry really seemed to resonate with some people, baffle some people and find no relevance for others. This was VERY interesting to me. In The Queen Has No Clothes, George wrote about feel-good commentating:

This week’s MOOC #change11 has not held my interest. Without doubt, Nancy White is a charismatic facilitator, using graphical tools to have participants express themselves and develop a particular view. I think this approach (using such graphical tools) is excellent for the participants.
I learned long ago that my wonderfully produced mathematical notes were excellent – for me. The iterrative process of producing these and improving them was valuable to me, the writer. My students needed to produce their own versions (yes, to construct their own knowledge), for this to be valuable for them. So the outcome of the process did not mean much without being a participant.
Also, there seemed to be an inordinate amount of “feel-good” commentating. Why? Could there be a cultural difference?
Hence my Tweet: the Queen has got no clothes on. There, I said it.

Tonight I responded:

I’m still chewing on what I understand to be underneath – the lack of resonance for you (and others!) about social artistry in the context of change, learning and technology.

When we moved into “interview Nancy” mode during the Friday session and George started asking me questions which felt more academic to me, I started to get some insight into the fact that while I know “inside” what social artistry is because I believe I practice it, I still can’t clearly articulate it in a way that fits in with learning theories and the deeper, intellectual grounding that many of you have. I’m a simple practitioner. So making that leap is .. well, hard.

As I listened to today’s session w/ Dave and rhizomatic learning, I kept being troubled by his reference of the rhizomatic learner as a nomad. The metaphor of the nomad — at least the romanticized notion of a nomad is a solitary being, forging off on her or his own.

This has a disconnect for the social aspect of learning for me. I’m not saying all learning must be in a social context, but a heck of a lot of it is. Those who pay attention to making that space where this learning happens play and important role. Thus the social artist.

We ran out of time and never got to the transversalist. That’s another interesting kettle of fish!

I need to go back and dig into what George meant about “feel good comments” — what makes a comment feel-good? What other qualities of comments might we use or name? A whole ‘nuther interesting thread.

The loose ends…Onward

You know what they say. Once you start looking for something you had not noticed before, you start to see it everywhere. Like when I became pregnant with my first child, I saw pregnant women everywhere where before they didn’t even show as a blip on my radar screen. So as the week went by, I kept Tweeting related #socialartist  links. For example, not change11 directly, but related social artist practices from Barbara Ganley http://community-expressions.com/2011/11/04/lessons-learned-part-one-listening/ and from the  Facebook Convo, an link to  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habitus_(sociology) from Vanessa Vaile who wrote “PS I see strong traces of habitus in Digital Habitats” which of course tickled me! I can even see glimpses of social artistry in this more general reflection on Change11 https://bigreturns.posterous.com/change11-looking-forward-and-looking-back

Habitus is the set of socially learnt dispositions, skills and ways of acting, that are often taken for granted, and which are acquired through the activities and experiences of everyday life. Habitus is a complex concept, but in its simplest usage could be understood as a structure of the mind characterized by a set of acquired schemata, sensibilities, dispositions and taste.[1] The particular contents of the habitus are the result of the objectification of social structure at the level of individual subjectivity. Hence, the habitus is, by definition, isomorphic with the structural conditions in which it emerged.
The concept of habitus has been used as early as Aristotle but in contemporary usage was introduced by Marcel Mauss and later re-elaborated by Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu elaborates on the notion of Habitus by explaining its dependency on history and human memory. For instance, a certain behaviour or belief becomes part of a society’s structure when the original purpose of that behaviour or belief can no longer be recalled and becomes socialized into individuals of that culture.

Habitus is the set of socially learnt dispositions, skills and ways of acting, that are often taken for granted, and which are acquired through the activities and experiences of everyday life.Habitus is a complex concept, but in its simplest usage could be understood as a structure of the mind characterized by a set of acquired schemata, sensibilities, dispositions and taste.[1] The particular contents of the habitus are the result of the objectification of social structure at the level of individual subjectivity. Hence, the habitus is, by definition, isomorphic with the structural conditions in which it emerged.The concept of habitus has been used as early as Aristotle but in contemporary usage was introduced by Marcel Mauss and later re-elaborated by Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu elaborates on the notion of Habitus by explaining its dependency on history and human memory. For instance, a certain behaviour or belief becomes part of a society’s structure when the original purpose of that behaviour or belief can no longer be recalled and becomes socialized into individuals of that culture.

Here are some other places where Social artistry appeared in front of me this week

Want more #Change11? The schedule is here.

The beauty of a MOOC is the way you can sail into ideas, people, memes, and streams. Here are some people and their streams I want to read more of: