Thursday, August 30, 2007

An ISO Standard for Plenary Speakers?

We have been talking about standards for social impact analysis today in a small discussion group. Has anyone thought of an ISO like this yet? That would be really helpful to those who are organizing workshops and for speakers as well.

You Can't Fight Furniture

No matter how hard you try to have a dynamic, interactive feeling to a workshop, if you are in a room where the furniture is all facing forward and bolted to the floor, people's assumptions are that they are there to sit still and listen, and not to look at each other and talk.

We have just launched our New Learning workshop, our room is a banked auditorium - very nice, very wired, not too big and very quiet at the moment. Of course, we are at the introduction and context setting part filled with short presentations. And we will get to work hard to change the dynamic once we move past this part to participants' introductions, which I will facilitate next. Needless to say, I was delighted to notice that the chairs do swivel.

Are Formal Networks Pre-Internet Artifacts?

This strikes me as a rather explosive question, and it would be interesting to hear different viewpoints. Several years ago I think I would not have considered it as plausible as I do today. Formal networks now are competing with personal networks that people set up for themselves, both social and professional. Why join a structured professional network, when you can use a ning or Facebook to bring into your orbit the people who are important for informal learning and exchange on your preferred practice, and use google or any other search engine to find all the relevant new information for your field. What can formal networks now provide as a compelling value proposition for their members?

I guess they can be filters and aggregators, but there are lots of organization providing clearinghouses and tailored information collections. There might be a few specialised niches left to populate here, but fewer and fewer every day. Maybe they can provide quality control? But voting and ranking functions can do that to, as well as checking the popular tags on or the public bloglines accounts of reputable experts. What is the most compelling offer for formal networks today?

Maybe they need to go back to F2F formats, that is something that many of these new tools don't provide. When they are virtual, then they are increasingly in a crowded space.

We are just about to kick off a meeting organized in conjunction with our international network of communication and education/learning experts on New Learning, no doubt this will be an interesting question for reflection...