I teach a course on enterprise knowledge sharing for the Master’s Program in Learning and Organizational Change at Northwestern University – MSLOC 430 – in the Winter and Spring quarters (January – March, March – June). For the past two years I have used class blog assignments and Twitter chats to create a tiny bit of open space in which graduate students in the class (who are all experienced working professionals) can discuss some of the more challenging questions about enterprise social networks (ESNs), knowledge sharing and collaboration with other practitioners and thought leaders.
These activities have been some of the most fun moments of the course. See, for example: Twitter chat Storify: What does it mean to lead, in a networked enterprise? , Let the dinosaurs die and the lurkers lurk. Insights on seeding enterprise social networks , and Personal brand and digital identity: Which I am I?
So for this coming year (and on-going), my goal is to open up the course even more.
Let me put together a couple of thoughts that bring me to wondering how best to go about this. Through my experience at MSLOC, I have learned to value two things as central to learning: 1) The power of starting with a complex problem or question, and 2) reflection – and in particular, reflection with a peer group. Both of these are key parts of the pedagogy across all of the courses at MSLOC. And in late 2013, I had the good fortune to be able to collaborate with Kimberly Scott to put these two elements into play as part of a connectivist-inspired open, online seminar: Exploring Personal Learning Networks: Practical Issues for Organizations (#xplrpln).
We learned many things. But for me, among them was this: The power of rethinking the “course” as being an agreement among learners to explore a topic or question over a specified period of time.
And that is how I am beginning to think about MSLOC 430: As an opportunity to mark off a couple of time slots each year during which learners might explore questions or problems about enterprise social networks and collaboration, and do so by reflecting on them with an open network of peers.
The ongoing, social media flow of questions and ideas among practitioners and researchers working on enterprise social networks and collaboration is certainly rich. Probably the last thing this network of enthusiasts needs is another event or group or Tweet chat. But I am nonetheless intrigued by the possibility of creating real value for all stakeholders by dipping MSLOC 430 into the flow – and finding those compelling questions to work on, together, for a short time.
I’ll be writing more about this – thinking and working out loud over the coming weeks. Next up: My current syllabus, and some thoughts on integrating idea management.