Nov 12 2015
This is the second in a series of post of my ISS Fellowship. For context check out part 1.
As I mentioned from part 1, Arthur Shelley and I found a zillion things to talk about, so much that when we got on the train to go into Melbourne Tuesday morning we forgot to validate our train fares and had to jump out at the first station, tap our passes and jump back on the train.
I was fascinated to learn about Arthur’s process of designing his classes and training offerings. He uses a lot of storytelling prompts and little vignettes to help us NOTICE our practices. This was put into action right on the train. We sat down in facing benches with one other person sitting next to me. We dove right back into our conversation about how we teach and a million other things.
Arthur started asking me a series of questions to demonstrate an activity he did. One of the questions was, “how many people are in this conversation.” Well, I said “it may be a bit improper to say this out loud, but really, there are three of us as I think the woman next to me has been interested and listening.” She immediately admitted she had picked up a thing or two and from that moment on, she was actively a part of our conversation. A musician, she teaches people how to sing and Arthur passed over his card and invited her to coffee to tell her about the Creativity Conference he is planning next year. Instant network augmentation on the train. Instead of staring at your phone, see what can happen?
Once in town, and after an amazing slice of toasted and buttered fruit bread at Druid’s Cafe (I’ll be back), I headed off to another cafe to meet Nick Herft of the Better Evaluation team. We’ve talked on Skype, but never met. I was curious to learn about Nick’s key insights after his time working on the project. We met up at my second cafe of the day, Pearson and Murphy’s. Flat black coffee and a friand. mmmm….
Nick has seen the revision of parts of the site and tracked user behavior. I was interested in his observations about the challenges of a front page of a site that is SO rich in information and serves very diverse users. Most people arrive via a Google search for a particular topic, with fewer working their way methodically through the site. But without that “walk through” it is easy to miss all the goodies that Better Evaluation has to offer. I asked Nick if I could do a quick video interview about some of his key learnings and he’s thinking about it – stay tuned!
On to cafe #3, Mr. Tulk at the beautiful public library to meet up with old friend Joyce Seitzinger of Academic Tribe. Hopefully you have picked up by now the threads of my first days on the fellowship – connecting and eating. I particularly wanted to catch up with Joyce not only to just catch up, but to probe her deep knowledge about elearning to inform not only my week working here with educators, but also some work I’m doing on elearning in Africa and in the agricultural finance sector. You see, with a great network, you can improve your research right off the bat by eating and conversing together. In fact, as I look across the days here, conversation and dialog has been one of the centerpieces of everything I’ve done.
After a bite to eat we wandered the streets and ended up in yet another cafe. This time I did not get the name, but it was a nice quiet place along the river. Those who know me well will be reassured that I had switched to herbal tea at this point, as we finished our conversations.
I circled back to Druid’s to meet up with Arthur and we took a quick visit into the Victorian Library with its fabulous dome. I was impressed with how full and busy the library was, with nary a spare seat to be found.
The second to last event of the day and the first formal “event” of my fellowship was to facilitate a session of the Melbourne Knowledge Management Leaders Forum, or the venerable, 16-year old KMLF as it is known. This is my third visit to the group and this time I wanted to share what I’ve been learning and practicing with Liberating Structures.
I love how the KMLF meetups start with two traditions: making a social network map of who is in the room, and a bit of wine, cheese and informal networking. I shared a few stories, and then we did a few of the structures, followed by a debrief with What, So What, What Next, one of my favorite quick debrief methods. Slides are here and a photo collage at the bottom.
Stewart French volunteered to drive Arthur and I home, and again, the ride was a fast paced lively conversation, this time on the role of visuals and graphic facilitation, and creativity in general. After a shared bite, then my friend Brad Beach and my overall fellowship host picked me up for the hour ride to Korumburra in Gippsland. Long day, full of friends, colleagues and yes, CONVERSATION. We learn, live and really enjoy ourselves through conversation!