Hitting a productive point for #msloc430 course design

Have slowed down a bit on writing things down as part of my design update to my course. But it’s because I think I’ve hit upon a productive reframing of one key element of the course – how to glue together many apparently lightly connected concepts about enterprise social network (ESN) uses.

And so now, I am in that phase where a pretty clear outline of the course is emerging. I need to step back, shuffle some things around in my draft syllabus (which is a bit of a mess at this point), and take the design to the next level of done-ness.

The reframing was to shift the focus from understanding models and use cases for ESN and networked collaboration to innovating with models and uses cases for ESN and networked collaboration.

You still have to understand to innovate. But my pedagogical gut tells me the innovating approach will add a different level of energy to the class and the learning. This will work well both for the enrolled students in my Northwestern MSLOC course as well as anyone who might participate in the “open” segment of the course that will run in parallel.

My thinking is outlined in my updated post from yesterday morning. Here is a summary of the key insights.

Clustering concepts

Assume there is a connected, networked enterprise. Or extended enterprise. Or network of connected individuals who work or learn together out on the open.

What if we looked at different ways that people are using those networks as meta-use-case models – and potentially the building blocks of innovation? This approach helps to cluster some classic concepts (CoPs for example) with newer emerging in-practice ideas (working out loud).

Here are the variety of models on my short list at the moment:

  • Communities of practice and networks of practice (emergent, social learning)
  • Communities of inquiry (communities with an intentional learning purpose)
  • Connectivist MOOCs (networked learning model that biases relationships over content)
  • Personal learning networks (self-directed learners, leveraging a networked environment)
  • Crowdsourcing (wisdom of the crowds innovation)
  • Open design (design process leveraging wisdom of the crowds – think Open IDEO)
  • Working out loud (structured serendipity)

The “how might we” question

Hat tip to my colleague Ryan Smerek for really helping me understand how powerful this type of question can be in a course context. He’s been leading the way on this in a course we co-teach, and it has changed the tenor of the course over the past two years.

In the MSLOC 430 case, the questions are along these lines: How might we combine the models in innovative configurations to address organizational challenges? How might we apply models in different ways (i.e., connectivist MOOCs for idea generation)?

Pacing for the open segment of the course

This would be a participate-if-you like, self-directed, open learning event. Modeled somewhat after what was done in Exploring Personal Learning Networks. It would run parallel to the two times I teach MSLOC 430 (January – March, and March – June). Participants would connect in activities using Twitter, blogs and a Google Community.

Over an initial 4-week period, we’d explore the models noted above. What do we know about them? What makes them work? Where do they seem to be useful vs. not useful? This would be split into two, 2-week segments.

In a final 2-week segment, participants must work on and propose an innovative adaptation or combination of the models described above (e.g., community of practice, MOOC, crowdsourcing, working out loud) applied to a challenge of your choosing. An additional constraint is that the challenge (and resulting innovation) must somehow span the boundaries between internal networks and external ones.

The what’s-in-it-for

My intention – for open participants – is to see if MSLOC 430 could provide a brief time period and structure to step back, maybe learn more about some unfamiliar meta-use-case-models, and think out loud with a few others about how ways to innovate using the models.

Is there value there? Experimenting with it will tell me. But that’s the design intention.

For enrolled students (and for me) the opportunity to make direct connection and engage in an on-going conversation with many more practitioners is an appealing value proposition.

And the point of networked collaboration.

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