Friday, April 18, 2008

My Night with David Gurteen

Bet that got your attention. Those who know of David's work with Knowledge Cafes in whatever international spot he lands will know already of what I'm speaking. As David travels the world, he offers to facilitate a free, open to community, informal exchange and sharing of ideas on whatever burning question that locale might wish to consider. Informal but not unstructured. David uses a specific, distributed, what I would call "emergence" format where 'the whole is greater than the sum of the parts' for encouraging knowledge transfer amongst participants. No leaders, no report outs, no death by PowerPoint. Everyone matters, every voice counts.

The closing moments of a Knowledge Cafe reminded me of a Quaker meeting. You don't speak unless you're compelled to share an important thought, realization, or theme that emerged from your multiple small group discussions. Some participants violate the framework and just need to be heard, but like the Quakers, everyone listens respectfully and reflects on the thought without the need for comment or debate. I think the format works because David seems to be one of the nicest people on the planet. Not sure what would happen if a less gentle soul asked the same behavior of a crowd. I'd love to hear more out there from those who've tried his Cafe format on their own.

Thanks to David's Twitter post, I discovered on Tuesday that there would be a Cafe here in my home town on Wednesday eve. He was here in Phoenix to present at BSEC 2008, and stayed an extra day to help KM leaders in the Valley think through "How could the Valley become a vibrant knowledge capital? What role would our business community play and what would be the benefits?"

The topic was briefly introduced by Jay Chatzkel, author of numerous pieces on the topic, and a small group (~50?) spent the evening in shifting clusters of 4-5 people imagining the Phoenix area as a thriving knowledge hub. A wonderful evening of deep, thoughtful, diverse ideas.

The group will gather again in September (without David) to see where each of us have taken the ideas and where we might go with them from there. A great evening, great meeting one of my KM heroes in person, great example of Twitter as pipeline for information immediacy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Giving the Devil His Due

OK, trying to teach 'mashups' to my students: what, how and more importantly, why this may be a key new media literacy. They're not enthused. Deep thinking required to create meaningful new content. So I'm looking for ah-hah moments.

And here's where you have to nod to MicroSoft. They're cranking out SilverLight applications without much fanfare, keeping low key, very beta and some have potential.
I'm not going to desert the Google search engines easily (scholar is getting me thru my dissertation research), but take a look at tafiti meta-search engine, powered by SilverLight and Live Search. Newest version is a bit scarey in interface (Halo 3? looking for a market that's not me) but the earlier release had a 'tree view' which was a lovely little mashup.
Visual media. Visual literacy. Visual integration of data across sites and services.
The students get it when it works. We all do, without needing to ponder.

So then the students go over to PopFly and create their own silly, sweet and sometimes compelling mashups. User site and rankings is a mess, but the interface certainly beats the dead Yahoo Pipes project.

So, MS approach is unclear. No promotion or noise. Must be a method to the madness somewhere. (PopFly is often slow, perhaps they're tuning before selling), but if anyone has better idea on how to get learners into mashups, let me know.

Meanwhile, does ANYONE understand why or what is with their clunky OfficeLive site?
Google Docs did it as well as we could ask. I'm all for competition on freeware, but...huh?
But that's a whole nuther post.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Masie Fellowship?

Looked everywhere and don't find this on their messy, crazy site but here's announcement that's posted in my PhD community site (instructional design for online learning) at Capella regarding Fellowship at Masie Center.
Can't help thinking that this would be very, very fun and rewarding. What a great combo for the right person:
We are pleased to announce a new program that will support learning
professionals pursuing an advanced degree (Master or Doctorate
Level) or interested in a Research Sabbatical.

Starting in Summer 2008, for a period of one semester (2 to 4
months), we will select and host a series of Learning Fellowships at The MASIE
Center in Saratoga Springs, NY.

The candidates will be provided housing, a stipend for living
expenses, full access to the Center and our Learning CONSORTIUM. They will have an
opportunity to:

* Spend 50% of their time on a Research Project in the Learning Arena.
* Spend 50% of their time working with MASIE Center staff on key Learning Projects.
* Work with our Learning CONSORTIUM members to create and deploy their research.
* Place the results of their research in the public domain.
* Shadow Elliott Masie or other CLO's in our Learning CONSORTIUM.
* Write at least one article for Learning TRENDS.
* Present their research at Learning 2008.

Candidates will be selected by an Advisory Panel of colleagues,
academics and learning executives. The Fellowships can begin at the start of
the Fall, Winter or Summer semester/season.

Rather than complete a long application, we would like you to start by
sending a personal note to us, outlining your interest in the Learning
Fellowship. We will follow-up with more details and requests for additional information.

Send your note to:

We are very excited about this program and hope that it will support
more research and advanced degrees in the learning field.


Elliott Masie
The MASIE Center & Learning CONSORTIUM

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Popfly toy for (big) girls and boys

Attended a Cengage workshop in Mesa AZ this week. Interesting speaker, Mark Frydenberg of Bentley College, introduced audience to Popfly.

I'd tried Yahoo Tubes awhile back. Frustrating, non-intuitive, perhaps buggy interface. Quit after a few hours. Mark claims MS got it right with Popfly. I'll give it a try. Site shows a lot of 'highly ranked' but untagged and some non-functional mashups on the home page, so I have my doubts. But there's the quirk in new tools.

Meanwhile, Mark is using Popfly to teach new media literacy to his Tech 101 courses. Mashup as required literacy skill? Sure maybe.