how do you teach this stuff?

21 02 2006

for the past month or so, jay cross and i have been fighting our way through the flurry of web 2.0 and mash-ups and the critical acclaim for them by the pundits who are convinced the tipping point to world-wide collaboration has come to pull together a set of learning experiences designed to help more mainstream learning professionals understand these new technologies and how they might best be used in the real world.

jay landed on the idea of calling what we are working on an unworkshop.  it made sense as soon as i saw it in his email.  we had to break from the typical "immerse them in the razzle-dazzle of the new stuff and they shall be converted" technique that has failed so often in the past.  but it’s difficult.  it tests ones very temper as jay and i can both relate to.

alan levine just responded to a comment by me on his blog, cogdogblog, with the following list of errors made when innovators try to cross moore’s chasm to bring innovations to the early adopters in the mass of the market:

  • assume the technology itself is exciting enough to bring them over the barrier
  • try and persuade them with a fire hose of stuff, when a smaller concentrated dose is better (I wrote of this recently (
  • despite the volume of information on differences between innovators and main stream technology users, we use the approaches that appeal to the innovators.
  • approach the task via a workshop mentality- it ends up being a short intensive burst of learning that has little stick. We do not do as much scaffolding, follow-up, creating mentorships, etc to make it more as on going learning.

of course, now that we’re less than a week from the launch of the pilot of our unworkshop, jay and i are scrambling to get everything ready.  my role is to act as a coach to the participants before during and after the "instruction."  while we can take some

pride in nailing
alan’s 4th point in our unworkshop, i find myself struggling with
keeping things practical and accessible while continually finding new,
exciting applications both in new services (10 x 10 was my discovery
yesterday) and practice (as alan outlines in his post that got me started on all this). 

that’s where we need to back down on the volume and think about our
audience and their perspective.  jay and i both tend to revel in
splashing around in front of the fire hose of information coming at us,
but i can hazard to say that most of our participants will prefer
taking a sip out of the garden hose.  we’re fighting the good fight on
this but i’m sure we’ll have lots of tightening to do after the dose of reality
that a pilot can be.

finally, i think alan’s first point is the most difficult for us who
are so excited about everything 2.0.  we get it!  we see the potential
well out into the future.  that’s why we love living on this side of
the chasm.  it’s why we put up with being called weirdos by our
societal peers who’d rather go play golf or sit and chat with an
neighbor about the latest about the other neighbor than figure out how
to parse rss feeds to provide a unique view of the same old headlines.
frankly, alan, your first point is a wet blanket on our party! 

but then, in the end, it’s not our party.   is it?

as i said in a comment on harold jarche’s blog, maybe it’s we
innovators who have to change our attitude before the multitudes will
be able to take over.   ultimately it’s not about the gee-whiz-bang, it’s about the favorite pair of jeans that are too comfortable to throw away no matter how big or where the holes are.

do you think they’ll find it interesting how one person in san
francisco, can sit down to the computer, read a post by a guy in
arizona that sparks an idea which he documents for the guy in arizona,
then while reacting to that idea being fanned by something by  another
guy in new brunwick wrote he is notified that there is a response from
the guy in arizona which cements the new conceptual model for the guy
in san francisco who blogs it in his blog?  of course, being sure to
acknowledge the contributions of others in his thought development.  i
wonder if they’ll believe that one.

hmmmmmm.  ohhhhh, jay!




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