Week 6: Innovating new, networked approaches to organizational work and learning (continued)

Introduction to Week 6

Tell us: What is your big idea?

We’d like that question to frame the next week (or more) of posts to be shared in MSLOC430 Enterprise Social Networking (our Google Community). It’s already begun with a few posts from graduate students in the on-site section of MSLOC 430. Nikki Bussard shares an idea for a personal learning network tool; Foram Soni shares a model for combining ideation and communities of practice; Carly Mulliken explores potential uses of working out loud; and Kate Cohen explores using MOOC designs for internal training.

Each of these emerges from looking at a variety of innovations in networked learning and work. We’ve explored networked learning, MOOCs, Community of Inquiry and Personal Learning Networks (see the document Technology, Networks and Communities in the Service of Learning). We’ve also explored crowdsourcing, idea management and open design, Communities of Practice and working out loud (see the document Technology, Networks and Communities in the Service of Work).

The question we now wish to look at:

How might we apply these models of networked learning and work in new ways, in new combinations, to meet the challenges and opportunities facing our organizations?

Share. Comment. Build and improve.

Activities for this concluding phase of our six-weeks:

  1. Share you big ideas. How might you address organizational challenges or opportunities by applying the models we’ve explored in new ways or in new combinations?
  2. Comment on the ideas shared by others. What comes to mind as you review the idea? How might we build off of it? Modify or improve it?


The on-site section of MSLOC 430 ends on March 12.

The Google Community will remain open to continue exploring innovative ideas.

In early April, a new class of students for the on-site section of MSLOC 430 will begin. The work that we’ve done over the past six weeks will be used as the starting point for that group to continuing creating new “big ideas.”

Watch this blog for announcements of new activities as we move through April and May.


Week 5: Innovating new approaches to organizational work and learning

In the video

Time: 10:02

  • We’ve completed exploration of technology, networks and communities used in the service of learning and work (e.g., MOOCs, Community of Inquiry, crowdsourcing, open design/idea management, working-out-loud, etc.)
  • We’ll now focus on applying these models in innovative ways to meet organizational challenges or opportunities.
  • Some examples of the types of challenges and opportunities we’re thinking about in the on-site class at Northwestern University.
  • How we plan on brainstorming potential new approaches. And some examples of what that might look like.
  • Next steps.

Introduction to Weeks 5-6

We’ve now had a little bit of time to explore a few innovative models that change the way we learn or work:

  • Networked learning
  • MOOCs
  • Personal learning networks
  • Communities of Inquiry
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Open design/idea management
  • Communities of Practice
  • Working out loud

We have a few resources to help us understand these learning models and the work models in Google documents.

During the next two weeks (or longer) we’ll shift our focus to looking at how we might apply these models in new ways or in new combinations to address organizational challenges or opportunities. Watch the video for examples of what we mean by “challenges and opportunities” and a bit about how we intend to brainstorm ideas.

But the general approach is as follows.

First, we’ll spend a few days sharing the types of challenges or opportunities we want to work on. Share via Twitter #msloc430 (point to blog posts if necessary) between Monday, Feb. 13 and Thursday, Feb. 26 (6 pm Central Time U.S.).

On Thursday night, the on-site Northwestern University class will look at the types of challenges we’ve identified and see if there are logical clusters of ideas. We’ll post results by next weekend.

For week 6 (and beyond) we’ll see if the clusters allow us to form groups of common interest for the next step: brainstorming ideas and sharing potential new approaches.

Starting in Week 6, we brainstorm and review (with each other) our potential new approaches. The starting point is to have your challenge or opportunity scenario in mind. Then we’ll ask each of you to go through this thinking process:

  1. Make sure you’ve reviewed the models we’ve covered. Get a sense of how they work, and what they do.
  2. Think about your challenge/opportunity scenario.
  3. How might we frame your challenge or opportunity as a learning challenge? What needs to be “learned?” Who needs to learn it? What kinds of ideas – from the networked learning models – might we apply?
  4. How might we frame your challenge or opportunity as a work challenge? What needs to be done/accomplished as a work product? Who needs to do it? What kinds of ideas – from the networked “work” models – might we apply?
  5. How might we frame this as requiring both “learning” and “doing work” (one before the other)? Or as integrated – we are both working and learning at the same time? What kinds of combinations of ideas might we apply? In what sequence? Or integrated in what way?

Schedule Summary

For weeks 5-6 (and beyond)

  • Feb. 23 – Feb 26 (6 pm Central Time U.S.) – Share the organizational challenges or opportunities you’d like to work on. Alert us via Twitter (#msloc430 hashtag). Watch the video for examples of organizational challenge and opportunity scenarios.
  • March 1 and beyond – Brainstorm new approaches to the organizational challenges and opportunities. We’ll share these ideas via our blogs, Twitter and the Google Community.

What do we mean – “and beyond?”

MSLOC 430 runs as an on-site course until March 12. A new 10-week on-site course begins April 1 with a new set of students. The objective for that class will be the same: How do we innovate new approaches to organizational challenges or opportunities by leveraging networked learning and networked working models?

The discussions and explorations will continue. Let’s keep the inventing going.

Week 4: Exploring technology, networks and communities in the service of work

In the video

Time: 5:38 mins.

A few thoughts as we head into week 4 of the 6-week open section of #msloc430 (video recorded Feb. 15, 2015).

  • We’re one week away from when we start to think about new ways to innovate based on review of several models during weeks 1-4.
  • Can we describe the essence of ideas such as crowdsourcing, open design, working-out-loud and communities of practice in one sentence? One tweet? Or a quick drawing on the back of a napkin? How we might try that during this upcoming week.
  • My take on describing the essence of the brainstorming phase of Open IDEO.

A Twitter assignment challenge: Week of Feb. 16

Let’s use Twitter and the #msloc430 hashtag all week to do the following challenge (also noted in the video):

  • Pick one or more of the innovations we are covering in weeks 3-4: crowdsourcing, idea management, open design, working-out-loud or communities-of-practice.
  • Describe it in one sentence (or one Tweet). Explain how it works, or some element of it that is essential to how it works. Or describe it in a way that captures the essence of the innovation. Not a word person? Draw a sketch or diagram. Post a photo of that sketch or diagram.

Here’s an example from earlier this week:

The description isn’t comprehensive – but it certainly gets at elements of communities of practice that make them what they are (learning, change and work practice).

Let’s see how clever we can all be this week. Or call on the clever people you know in your networks. Whatever you do (sentence, drawing, etc.) post it on Twitter to #msloc430. Check our Tagboard to keep track.

Gather your friends. Time to plan the festivities #msloc430 open

We’ve opened a new Google Community – MSLOC430 Enterprise Social Networking – to start gathering together as we approach the official start on Jan. 25 of our six-week open section of #msloc430. We’ll also be using the #msloc430 hashtag on Twitter.

So join the community or give us a shout out on Twitter. Introduce yourself and tell us what draws you to the topics we’re covering. If you’re interested in helping to plan or run some activities, check out our planning discussion and document in the Google Community.

What’s ahead

The open section is inspired by a few questions we consider as part of a 10-week graduate course in the Master’s Program in Learning and Organizational Change at Northwestern University.

  • 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?

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.

How might you participate?

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.