CPsquare’s NING Stackathon – Tech Stewarding Learning Opportunity!

Are you stewarding technology for your community? Did you or are you considering a NING site? You may want to join in with CPSquare’s NING Stackathon. It will last for a year, but I suggest you get in on the ground floor now. John notes at the bottom that if you are willing to contribute a case, he will waive the (VERY MODEST) entry fee. Plus you get a six month CPSquare membership. Folks, JUMP on this!

Here are the deets, via http://cpsquare.org/.

Launching our Ning Stackathon

By: John David Smith

playful stackHackathons are the current equivalent of a barn-raising, where people get together and work really hard for a short period of time on a fun project that somehow contributes to the common good.  We’ve used barn-raising as examples of the kind of personal, skin-in-the-game generosity that’s involved in communities of practice.

We’re inventing a new portmanteau.  A Stackathon is working party that’s slower-paced than a hackathon and more reflective.  It gathers useful examples of something with a lot of sense-making built into the process.  Therefore a stackathon is not like the current craze for content curation.  Read on for details about CPsquare’s first Stackathon.

During this stackathon we’ll gather profiles and portraits of as many living Ning-based or Ning-supported communities as possible.  We’ve started developing a list of interesting examples.  As we stack these communities one on top of another, we expect to discover new hacks that could make any of them more effective, sustainable, and fun. (And those hacks are probably relevant to simpler or more elaborate platforms than Ning, too!)

We will try to be somewhat systematic in describing how Ning is configured for each community and how it fits in the community’s digital habitat. We’ll pay attention to the ongoing role of leadership, facilitation, and technology stewardship. That means understanding what the community is about, what kinds of activities are typical, and what other tools a community uses in each community. Understanding that would give us a better idea of how and when to recommend Ning. Our stack will also suggest many possible methods that one community could borrow from another (including the use of auxiliary tools, plug-ins, themes, membership restrictions, etc., etc.).

During the stackathon (which will run for a whole year, from March 2012 to April 2013) we’ll have discussions in CPsquare’s Web Crossing site (password required: it’s for CPsquare members and people registered for the Stackathon), we’ll collect ideas in various Google Docs, we may have teleconferences, and we will collect some of our insights on CPsquare’s Media Wiki site. It all depends on what people want to do and are willing to do.

You can participate in the stackathon by joining CPsquare or by registering for the Stackathon here (costs $10). Any Stackathon registrant who contributes a full community portrait gets their registration fee refunded and they receive a CPsquare membership during the last 6-months of the Ning Stackathon.

(Thanks to Amboo Who for the photo!)

CPSquare “Connected Futures” week 1 blog post

Week 1 Workshop Blog Post

I’m lending a hand for the CPSquare’s (http://www.cpsquare.org) “Connected Futures” workshop which started the last week in April. As part of our collective “end of the week activity,” we are all to blog a reflection either on the workshop discussion board, or on our own blogs. Since I am currently offline while I write this, my timing will be off, but I decided to share it on my public blog as a “peek in” to an ongoing experiment.

(Why am I offline? I’m currently at ILRI in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where I’m co-facilitating a face to face element of an ongoing distributed workshop on knowledge sharing in international agricultural research. The network is down. Who knows for how long…???)

The workshop is devoted to looking at the role and impact of new technologies on communities of practice, and how we steward those technologies (or technology stewardship. If I were online, I’d be linking all these things to previous posts and definitions, but that will have to wait until later!)

This is not a workshop for the fainthearted. In the first week we are asked to register and acclimate to a fistful of online tools, from wikis to blog readers. While we have a “home base” on a discussion board, our activities will range across tools and modalities so we have some real experience to reflect upon and learn from. But all this jumping around right off the bat, before we’ve all gotten to know each other, feels pretty challenging. The brave post that they are feeling confused and I suspect others are quietly nodding in agreement in front of their computer screens.

What facilitates coherence? Especially in a complex world? What enables some of us to feel comfortable with incoherence, ambiguity and incompleteness while others take it as natural? Furthermore, how do we reconcile these differences when we are intending to act “in community?”

For me, these questions are always on my mind when I am in the technology steward’s seat. (Or on that keyboard!)

Connected futures: New social strategies and tools for communities of practice

Connected futures: New social strategies and tools for communities of practice

Are you in, leading or interested in the development and support of cmmunities of pratice who want or need to use web based tools to connect and be together? (Some call these “social media.” I always squirm a bit because people can use media socially, but I don’t think media is inherently social. It takes us human beings, eh?)  What  role do technologies such as blogs, wikis and social booking might play in your community’s development? If these questions intrigue you and you are an explorer and learner, then you’ll want to check out this new learning event from CPSquare:

Connected futures: New social strategies and tools for communities of practice

As Shawn Callahan so nicely wrote: We have been designing this event (which runs over 5 weeks starting in April) as a virtual field trip and experimental lab where you will engage your heads and your hands (and hopefully your hearts) and get a good feeling for these technologies and how they might support communities of practice.

You will be guided on this journey by the following practitioners:

Beth Kanter, Beverly Trayner, Bronwyn Stuckey, Etienne Wenger, John Smith, Nancy White, Nick Noakes, Shawn Callahan, Shirley Williams, and Susanne Nyrop. It is important to note: This is a constructivist learning experience. You will not be offered pre-chewed opinions. We’ll be exploring, testing tools and making meaning together. To get the most out of it, make sure you set aside an hour a day to participate. It will make a difference.

I’ll be stewarding the fourth week on creating a learning agenda for technology stewards with Etienne Wenger.

Consider joining up for the virtual expedition!!

CPSquare Platforms for Communities of Practice Event

My friends and colleagues over at CPSquareCPSquare, the community of practice on communities of practice, are launching a member driven event next week, Platforms for Communities of Practice. Since I’m often rambling about technologies for communities, I thought some of you might be interested. Here’s some snippets about the event which is all online – from the comfort of you computer, in your jammies if you please…

We’re exploring a half dozen platforms together — attempting to look at the software through the eyes of a community that’s been on that platform for a while. Currently we’re expecting to visit:

* xPERT eCommunity (Q2learning)
* CompanyCommand – Eco (Tomoye)
* TBA – Web Crossing
* TBA – drupal
* CIARIS – Custom-made using Ruby on Rails
* Story-telling in Organizations – Ning
* Best practices in e-learning community – Moodle and Facebook

For each platform / community combination we’re having several levels of engagement:

* Read a post about the community and the platform, written by a knowledgeable person
* View a video that represents a tour of the aforementioned community
* Self-register to use a “play space” where you can get a sense of what the software is about and how it works
* Participate in a discussion on the platform itself with community members about their community and their experience of using the platform
* Participate in asynchronous discussions back here that summarize or reflect on all the foregoing
* Participate in a synchronous phone conference about all of the above
* (Might be follow-on summarization and reflection and meta-conversations)

Rather than asking which platform is “the best” we are asking, “what kinds of communities thrives on each of these quite different platforms?” We’re inviting community leaders, technology stewards, and software vendors to all spend three weeks together thinking about issues of common concern.

The event is organized by CPsquare members and is open to guests who register here. (CPsquare members who are presenting or facilitating can bring a guest for free.)

Just a note: if you are not a CPSquare member and can’t get in for free, you may want to consider becoming a member. Full membership is $150 with discounts for students and others. So it may be cost effective to join and then participate for free!