Features Download
From: John Hopkins <jhopkins-LRlVL1xtBs0sV2N9l4h3zg <at> public.gmane.org>
Subject: Re: Notworking online collaboration in science and education
Newsgroups: gmane.culture.media.idc
Date: Thursday 11th October 2007 06:42:14 UTC (over 10 years ago)
Hallo Danica

>However, I agree with you for post-sending cheer-leading links, 
>reminding, being a bit 'pushy', but also, I think that good 
>developed 'project', 'idea', or 'mission' that they'll get them 
>together and create the feeling of belonging/commitment in positive 
>way that they are participating, collaborating into something 
>important for larger community, might work as well. What do you 
>think? All?
>I've read, participated and observed other cases in big 
>institutions, such as yours e.g. From my own practice one of the 
>idea as starting point and prior of making a 'strategy', for 
>coordination and motivation of education and information 
>professionals for networking and using web 2.0 applications in their 
>institutions, is to make a questionnaire (or other methodology) in 
>purpose to know them better: their backgrounds, skills, and how 
>willing they are to learn, implement and use such tools.
>I would like to hear other ideas and approaches in motivating 
>professionals involved in science and education to use state- of 
>-the- art ICT's as a tool for social networking and in their 
>everyday work?

I'm running a intensive two-week 9-to-5 workshop here in the 
Informatik Department of the Univ of Bremen in North Germany, 
something I've done numerous times in my nomadic teaching path -- 
around 50 places in the last decade or so...

The topic of the course is loosely about networks, social structures, 
technology, digital media, creative practices, human presence -- wide 
ranging, and largely driven by two factors -- a loose framework that 
constitutes my world-view, and then by the student's interest in 
examining issues relevant to their situations.

The core exercise that has grown out of that world-view, and out of 
my creative practice is the following:

Each day (this is a variable which depends on the temporal structure 
of a course, but the principle is the same) the students are either 
manually or self-organized into pairs who then have to, as 'homework' 
outside of class, or in the case of the workshop I'm doing now, 
during the workshop day, spend two hours together in dialogue.  The 
initial requirement is that the two do not know each other -- so they 
are prototypical strangers...

There is no thematic requirement imposed, only, at first, the thought 
that outside disturbances be limited (no phones on, for example), and 
that the two approach the situation with attention, concentration, 
and focus.  Location and other parameters are up to the individual 
pairs to determine.

This exercise is repeated with different pairings each day.

To understand the entire context that the exercise arises in would be 
too long to circumscribe here (class is starting here in ten 
minutes...!), but in brief this process is about facilitating a 
distributed system within the group.  A network.  And the amazing 
phenomena that I have observed about networks is that they are 
comprised of many of these exchanges of energy, and I find that when 
two come together openly they walk away from that encounter both 
inspired -- that excess of energy then is available to the network 
that they are embedded in -- the network becomes the site of 
explosive creative energy.

You cannot have a truly distributed creative system without there 
being open channels between (all) nodes.  This exercise directly 
responds to that necessity.  It is viral; it is applicable to any 
collective situation; it de-powers hierarchic structures by 
deflecting energy that would be used to prop up the 
teacher-as-source-of-all-knowledge; it accelerates rapid and 
especially relevant knowledge-building for the group...

This process I have observed time and time again with the 
facilitation of this simple exercise.  That the students are 
activated, engaged, energized, and often end up in long-term 
collaborative relationships when the course is done...  People are in 
class early, they stay late, and there is a very high level of 
interchange after a few iterations of this.

The timing of 2 hours is of course arbitrary -- less is problematic 
as a one-hour encounter can float easily in the comfortable FaceBook 
space of  "what's your major", "what's your favorite band," where the 
second hour one must push through these surfaces...  Longer is only 
problematic in the sense of conflict with the intense structured 
pressures exerted by the larger social system that the individuals 
are embedded in...

Sometimes there is an incredible level of cynicism and resistance or 
disdain when the assignment is first introduced (imposed!), but after 
the second iteration, self-organizing takes over, and people are 
shyly eager to undertake this difficult task of engaging the 

following are some jottings that dance around the edges of this concept...


I have a friend teaching at Colombia in their global economics & 
sustainability program or such, and I recently carried her through a 
primer on this exercise a couple weeks ago which she is using in a 
graduate class presently...   she reports a transformation in the 
landscape of the classroom already after two iterations.

my 2-cents...

CD: 3ms