Back of envelope


I have been reflecting about the online learning community projects I have been involved in over the past 5 years or so to try and identify some patterns. From my experience I could identify several features that initiatives display to greater or lesser extents. No criticism is attached to anyone group, this is just what it seems like to me……

A great deal of enthusiasm from some quarters – thankfully there risk takers and early adopters out there!

A lack of understanding that ‘culture change’ is actually at the heart of the initiatives not online learning communities. We live in a world where f2f dominates and is valued and changing this puts us in direct conflict with deeply embedded beliefs and value sets about how we learn, manage, and organize ourselves. This could take a decade or more to change.

Back of envelope implementation – no appreciation of the resource implications that are required. We readily accept the time and effort put into f2f meetings from the convenor through to the participants, but somehow online we rewrite the rules and expect the same outcomes to be achieved with a fraction of the resource allocation.

Not valuing online work – it isn’t seen so it isn’t valued! Particularly an issues for sponsors of initiatives who have little direct experience and yet exert a great deal of ill informed control.

Fragmented initiatives – organizations work in silos (nothing new about this)

A belief that because it is technologically straight forward to set things up, then it must be organizationally straight forward as well. It isn’t, see change in culture above.

I am sure there are more characteristics……

4 thoughts on “Back of envelope

  1. Derek Wenmoth

    Agree with all of this Stephen
    Just working through the research findings of T4T4T at the moment – much of which validates your thoughts here.
    Big task here – how to address these issues – probable answer is to think like eating an elephant – one bite at a time. Only problem there is that it reminds me also of the group of people who tried to describe an elephant – each from the perspective of where they were standing – noone with the big picture. Mmmm – more thought needed.

  2. Stephen Powell

    Ha, yes it is a tricky problem. As well as one bite at a time it is also important to get everyone in agreement that the everyone is planning to eat the elephant. By this I mean the different layers at different levels need to be aligned – policy, renumeration (the compensation that motivates particualr behaviours), institutional development plans, etc.

  3. Andy

    I think it’s crucial to start off the pilot for ‘Project Elephant’ with a small team of dedicated elephant eaters. Show what can be done on a small scale then recruit and graft further resources onto a solid and conciously elaphant-eating core. No use starting out with a bunch of vegetarians in control in the vain hope of winning them over along the way.

  4. Stephen Powell

    My reality has always been that I have had to work with vegetarians and carnivores alike because in the real world I don’t have choice over these matters.

    I am also convinced that nobody ever changed (learned) by being excluded such as children standing in the corridor of a school as punishment for being naughty. So I prefer to work with anyone and everyone and accept the challenges it will bring. I think:^)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s