So I’m getting married. Not for the first time. But for the last. It’s a great transition to marry a U.S. citizen – even if he is was once Swiss; you have to give up your alien status (yes, you are always referred to as the alien in this process) and become a permanent resident of the United States of America. I met someone from Eritrea while I was in Kassala in Sudan who paid a lot of money for the privilege – even though it was a scam and he never got there. So I’m supposed to be grateful. Which I am. Of course.
However, I might be more comfortable with a permanent alien identity than that of a permanent resident of the U.S. I’ve been a permanent resident in Kenya, UK and Portugal – in how many countries can I be permanent resident in a lifetime?
Could I have a permanent computer residence do you suppose? I mean, I feel strange and non-resident in places where I don’t have my computer. Mind you, being a Mac owner isn’t much help. Too bad if you live in more than one country they remind me. You may only belong to one iTunes store, with one matching credit card. And you can only send music to people in the same country. I know Steve Jobs doesn’t listen to customers, but – I mean – whatever happened to globalization?
And films? Forget watching films from different regions of the world. I can now only watch movies from the U.S. because I’ve switched regions (on my computer) five times. Lucky I’m marrying someone who has his set on movies from regions outside the U.S. We are a perfect match.
Google, on the other hand, goes the other way. Every time you travel they change your google interface language and prioritize sites from that country. Do you think I care what they say in Amharic about cheap flights from Lisbon to Vienna as I reside – on my computer – at Addis airport between Tanzania and Thailand? No, Google, no!! Neither in Thai nor Swahili. Please could you make it less complicated to get back to a language I understand.
Anyway, all this to announce the very great news that we are getting married. Hopefully I got through all my health checks here in Lisbon yesterday – although I wasn’t clear if I should emphasize illnesses or not. I can only imagine the physical health check to enter the U.S. is a secret mental health check. After all, who in their right mind would go to the U.S. if they knew they had a health problem?
So – Etienne Wenger and I are pleased to announce our marriage in September. We have a blog with the announcement here: http://etiennebev.com
Love and happiness to all – from an alien, a legal alien… wishing happiness on all aliens squeezed into national boxes everywhere!read more
Monitoring and evaluation of communities of practice and networks has been a hot topic in many of the group discussions I’m involved in . Now the Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL) has published our conceptual framework for promoting and assessing value creation in communities and networks. It is a working paper co-authored by Etienne Wenger, Bev Trayner and Maarten de Laat.
We wrote it with a wide audience in mind – researchers, sponsors, community leaders, members and other members. It is a framework that draws on both quantitative and qualitative data to create a compelling picture of how communities and networks create value for their members (or not).
Below is a copy of the Contents page and you can download the document here. We will be discussing how we have been using the framework and its implications at our BEtreat workshop on the 5th – 9th July 2011.
And do let us know if you have any comments about the framework – especially if you implement it.
I’m still on my high horse about social learning and knowledge, which started in my last post – Social learning? – when I was grumbling about Tiffany Fary’s post on Janet Clarey’s blog about social learning vs communities of practice.
I’m giving a talk in May about social learning and social media (at a conference for leaders of HR) and the noise about social learning in the blog and tweetosphere is putting me off. Social learning and social media are not the same thing. Rather…
Social learning is a reflection of our view about knowledge, whereas social media is the result of a tech bubble around Web 2.0.
This century has seen a shift in our thinking about knowledge. The flow of knowledge used to be seen as being primarily one way – from the person who knew to the person who didn’t.
But theory and research has suggested otherwise. Lave and Wenger, for example, noticed that in traditional systems of tailor master-apprenticeship relationships it was the apprentice’s relations to other apprentices where they found opportunities to learn.
What’s also happening is that globalization is making our problems more complex. Any one individual’s knowledge can only ever be partial knowledge in complex situations or in dealing with complex problems. Our initial strategy in complex situations would be to create social spaces and try to synergize all these partial pieces of knowledge.
So whereas in the past there were publicly endorsed figures who acted as gate-keepers for what would pass as canonical knowledge we now look at everyone as potential knowledge-creators, piecing together bits of partial knowledge in new ways to create new meanings.
Needless to say, shared social meanings are not in the heads of individuals; they are features of the social spaces we share when we engage in a collective enterprise. Knowledge exchange systems (social media or otherwise) are tools for making those social meanings explicit.
So let’s be clear: learning has not suddenly become social because of social media. Rather, our views and the language we use to talk about knowledge – and consequently learning – are changing. Social media has broadened the conversation, made it public, and helped create different understandings of what social learning means to people in different shared enterprises.read more
Her blog post presents a misleading contest between the two as communities of practice is probably the most well-known concept in social learning theory. The core principle behind communities of practice is that learning is a social journey. A practice in a community of practice – especially a practice of any depth – requires a sustained history of social learning.
Tiffany highlights the problem when she says
When it comes to the terms “Social Learning” and “Communities of Practice”, many people in the corporate learning realm are confused, myself included.
“Social Learning” – along with “Personal Learning Networks” – are being cranked up in HR. Social learning is being used as though it referred to social media by people like Jane Hart of C4LPT.
Jane’s social learning handbook sees social learning as a social media revolution where
… everyone can have access to the Social Web and a range of services and applications to support their own as well as their team’s learning, performance and productivity.
Tiffany Fary, in the same blogpost, sees social learning as
What do *I* need to know and who knows how to answer this quickly? Knowledge is primarily consumed or pulled from experts.
Her description is slightly broader than Jane’s as social learning is
leaning in the wild, via conversation, social media and the learning 2.0 technologies.
Social learning – and communities of practice – have been around a lot longer than social media. They have probably been around even longer than conversations – homo erectus junior was only grunting while he watched homo erectus seniors make and throw spears for hunting.
It’s just that social learning (and communities of practice) have become helpful ways of understanding how we know and learn at a time in history when solving complex problems problems needs more and diverse perspectives. Convening those different perspectives in pursuit of getting better at doing things is proving more helpful than the belief that we we merely transfer knowledge for people to apply.
Social media offers all sorts of new ways to convene – and make heard – different perspectives and voices. At the same time many more people are using social media to get just-in-time info, instant answers, feedback or perspectives. Social media is making it even more important that we get better at understanding the processes behind social learning.
So in response to Tiffany’s invitation to understand the difference between some of the terms we are using, I make this offering:
- Social learning is a view on how we learn i.e socially in interaction with each other.
- Social networks, personal networks and communities of practice are different ways that social learning manifests itself.
- Social networks (a bunch of PLNs) refer to connections and relationships between people that are used as a resource for solving problems, sharing knowledge and making more connections (1)
- Communities of practice are a learning partnership between people who use each others practice as a learning resource (1)
(“Promoting and assessing value creation in communities and networks: a conceptual framework” by Etienne Wenger, Beverly Trayner, Maarten de Laat, forthcoming paper for the Open University of the Netherlands)read more
There was a time when my desktop feed reader was one of the most lively places on my desktop, but it’s now a place I visit every now and then.
Until today I’ve stuck to NetNewsWire for reading feeds (no, I don’t like Google Reader – it’s browser based and useless if you travel). But NetNewsWire has become messy and a pain to read. NewsRack has taken over – I love the elegant, double pane, tabbed interface that makes it a joy to read.
Whether it’s Feeds, Facebook or Twitter my reading habits have gone from keeping an eye out on everything – to following people I care about,read more
I’m preparing a 1 minute video for my revamped website about who I am and what I do.
Yikes. Who am I? And what do I do?
I have a history of worrying about my identity and Nancy White (in Facebook comments) suggests that my identity crisis is part of my identity.read more