Exploring innovations in networked work and learning: The open course section of #msloc430

My course – MSLOC 430 – begins for enrolled Northwestern University Master’s in Learning and Organizational Change graduate students on Jan. 8. The following is my near-final draft of how I plan to run an open section of class during six of the 10 weeks in which the MSLOC course runs. The six week period begins Jan. 25 – but I’ll set up a community space for interested participants to gather and get to know each other a couple of weeks before then.

Let me know what you think. Interested in assisting? Comment here or let be know via Twitter (@jeffmerrell). I could use a few co-conspirators.

Exploring innovations in networked work and learning

Overview

How might innovations coming out of open, networked courses – including MOOCs – change the way we think about leadership development in organizations?

How might crowdsourcing be used as part of an open course? Or open design processes (think Open IDEO)? Or working-out-loud?

What might virtual communities-of-inquiry teach us about approaches to project team collaboration and continuous learning?

We wrestle with questions like these in MSLOC 430.

When we look for new ideas that leverage enterprise social networking technology to truly transform the way we work and learn, we see two things:

  • Innovations addressing how we work or solve work-related problems coming from business and management practitioners – like working out loud, idea jams, crowdsourcing, and open design.
  • Innovations addressing how we learn coming from education or organizational learning practitioners – like MOOCs, connected courses, virtual communities of practice and communities of inquiry.

Our goal is to think about these two streams of innovations as one. To explore the potential innovation that comes from criss-crossing domain boundaries.

The open section of MSLOC 430 will be used to work toward that goal. During a six-week period we will explore how both work and learning might be changed by understanding innovations in both. Four weeks will be devoted to understanding different innovations. Two weeks will be devoted to exploring how we might combine these different innovations in new ways to address our organizational challenges.

We are most interested in understanding elements of these models that help us as designers of an activity or environment. If we were to use these models to help us do something, what would we need to know? Think about how you might go about learning how to design a bicycle if “bicycle” were a new concept for you. What would you need to know about bicycles to help you get started (besides, of course, the most important thing: Actually riding a bicycle)? What makes a bicycle a bicycle?

  • What is it? A personal mode of transportation, powered by you.
  • What does it do? It gets you from one place to another. But it also provides health benefits and reduces carbon emissions.
  • What variations are there (if any)? Road bike. Mountain bike. Bicycle built for two. Tricycle.
  • What are the 3-5 key design features that make it what it is – and distinctive from similar models? Two same-sized wheels (in most cases). Light frame to connect front and rear wheels and provide seating. Steering by handlebar that moves the front wheel. Pedal and gear mechanism that turns leg motion into rear-wheel drive. No engine.

In our case, this definition process will help us focus first on understanding the basics – what makes a MOOC a MOOC – before we start thinking about combining concepts, applying them to new problems, or borrowing pieces to embed into other concepts.

We will later evaluate where and how these models might be fit for our purposes – what we want to do. Or whether the model raises philosophical or ethical issues that make it unfit for our purposes (i.e., does crowdsourcing move us toward unfair labor/intellectual property practices?). But for this part of our exploration, let’s focus on attributes that make these models work as instruments to get something accomplished.

Design philosophy: Six, four or two

You have several ways in which to participate. You might be with us during all six weeks. Or four. Or two. The design goal is to provide an outcome during each segment no matter what sequence or configuration you participate in.

Full six weeks – Solve a problem.

You can choose to track along a path similar to the enrolled students in my MSLOC 430 course.

First, share an organizational work or learning challenge for which you would like to develop an innovative solution, based on leveraging enterprise social networking technology. Explore different models of innovative solutions in work and learning during the first four weeks. Then work with us in weeks 5 and 6 to find new combinations of ideas that might address your challenge.

Two week sampler – Explore a new domain.

Weeks 1-2 will be devoted to innovations in education and learning. Weeks 3-4 will focus on innovations in how we work or solve work-related problems. If you know a lot about one but not the other, explore the domain with which you are least familiar.

Peer review, share-your-expertise sampler.

Know something about any or all of the topics we will cover? Drop in and share your expertise at any point. But be sure to check out the final two weeks when we begin to think about combining ideas in new ways. Expert peer review will help all of us think critically about our ideas – and the discussion may point you to new ideas that you have never before considered.

Open Section Schedule and Activities

Jan 12 – 24: Community gathering and orientation weeks

  • Join the MSLOC 430 Google Community (Note: Not yet set up)
  • Use Twitter hashtag #msloc430
  • Discussion: Where do we want to innovate? A open discussion in the about the specific organizational challenges we would like to work on during this open segment of the course.

Jan 25 – Feb 7 (Weeks 1-2): Technology, communities and networks in the service of learning

Topics:

  • Networked learning
  • Personal learning networks
  • MOOCs
  • Communities of Inquiry

Goal at the end of two weeks:

  • An edited Google document that describes the basics of each learning model and its key design features. With references and resources.

Activities during week 1:

  • Review a starter kit of readings covering each topic. Explore models you are less familiar with. Blog, tweet or post your thoughts in the Google community. A set of blog prompt questions will be posted at the beginning of the week. Participants can choose to blog in their own blog, but we will encourage sharing and reposting into the Google Community.
  • Thursday Jan. 29: MSLOC 430 students in the Northwestern class will begin to pull together themes and/or ask questions. Themes and drafts of descriptions go into the Google documents. Questions get posted to G+ community or via Twitter.
  • Additional activities: We may also incorporate Google Hangouts or YouTube video segments to help set context and introduce the topics.

Activities during week 2:

  • We will begin to shift our focus from getting the basics down (what is it? what does it do? are there any variations?) to concentrating on the key 3-5 design elements in each model. A set of blog prompt questions will be posted at the beginning of the week. Participants can choose to blog in their own blog, but we will encourage sharing and reposting into the Google Community.
  • Thursday Feb. 5: MSLOC 430 students in the Northwestern class will conduct a Twitter chat to explore key themes and look at key design elements of each model. Additional activities: We may also incorporate Google Hangouts or YouTube video segments to help set context and introduce the topics.
  • By Sunday, Feb. 8: Complete production of our first outcome – an edited Google document that describes the basics of each learning model and its key design features.

Feb 8 – Feb 22 (Weeks 3-4): Technology, communities and networks in the service of work and work-related innovation

Topics:

  • Crowdsourcing
  • Open design (i.e. Open IDEO)
  • Idea management
  • Virtual communities of practice
  • Working out loud / narrating your work

Goal at the end of two weeks:

  • An edited Google document that describes the basics of each work/innovation model and its key design features. With references and resources.

Activities:

  • Activities will follow the same structure as weeks 1-2. The only change will be in the topic focus.

Feb 22 – Mar 8 (Weeks 5-6): Innovations Topic: Innovating new approaches to organizational work and learning

During the final two weeks we’ll step back from defining different models — what is it? what does it do? are there any variations? what are the key design elements? — and begin to look at ways in which we can address organizational work and learning opportunities in innovative ways.

What opportunities do we wish to explore? How might we combine ideas from weeks 1-4, or apply them in different ways, to address our opportunities? What are our big ideas?

The first week will be dedicated to brainstorming and developing our rough draft ideas. During week two we’ll start to shift focus to peer review of ideas. How can we help each other make our draft ideas better?

Goal at the end of two weeks:

  • The community generates a diverse set of new ideas on how to leverage enterprise social networking technology to address organizational challenges or opportunities.

Activities during week 1:

  • Rough draft idea sharing Through blogs or Google+ posts we’ll start to build out our rough draft ideas to address challenges or opportunities of interest to us. The rough drafts will answer four questions: What is the challenge or opportunity? What is the big idea? How does it work? What do we (the authors of the ideas) really like about how this idea addresses the challenge or opportunity?
  • Thursday Feb. 26: MSLOC 430 students in the Northwestern class will help the idea-generation process by posting the results of a brainstorming session to the Google+ community.

Activities during week 2:

  • Appreciative peer review In this final week, we’ll ask participants to read and comment on ideas. Imagine that you (commenter) were the target participant/user of the author’s big idea. What are the top 2-3 things that you really like about the idea? Things that would engage you? If you could suggest one change that might make it better for you – as the imaginary participant/user – what would that be?
  • Thursday Mar 5: MSLOC 430 students in the Northwestern class will conduct a Twitter chat to explore ideas and themes from the 6 weeks.

7 thoughts on “Exploring innovations in networked work and learning: The open course section of #msloc430

  1. This looks amazing Jeff! Just when I thought I didn’t have time for another online learning event or experience…I think I’m just going to have to ‘make’ time!! Can’t wait!

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