We had survived THEKA on Friday and Saturday. We got home late on Saturday to a Portuguese style banquet provided by Rogerio, our caterer. There was no doubt about it, we were both tired and stimulated. Sunday was a dialogue day. EQUAL, on Monday was a quite different enterprise. How did we end up with two such different events??
Drive to the Gulbenkian (a plush museum/events centre in Lisbon), and join with a morning session on Communities of Practice. In the afternoon, take part in a complex validation process for a workshop Bev had taught last year. If successful this was to be offered as one of the EQUAL products.
This was the first point of debate: Is this thing we were analysing a Product?
I still don’t quite understand the whole picture, but this I did get: EQUAL is about inclusion, and among other things, works assisting various communities (called NTN’s: national thematic networks) in their functioning. They range from ex prisoners, micro businesses for women, farmers, AIDS related and fishermen . . . .
Bev’s workshop was to answer the question “How can I better keep connected with the community in the online world?” and the answer was “Provide an introduction to web 2.0 and social software tools”. Blogs, wikis, RSS, Flickr etc. POLEN2.0 was the result.
Polen = pollen.
There are of course a range of other options that aspire to do this. What is special about EQUAL and Bev’s contribution is the deliberate attempt to pass ownership and power to the participants (in this case the leaders of some of the NTN’s). And to allow ownership of the community by the members.
Hence Etienne’s presentation in the morning. A sign of the deliberate and active effort to promote a community of practice perspective. In my opinion, a powerful methodology in this context. I met some guys with strong passion and purpose – and with a good grasp of attitudes and orientations that help a community leader to succeed.
The validation process.
Simple really: there were several groups: Authors, Peers & Experts, participants, Administrators. Bev presented an overview of the workshop, several others spoke from their point of view, there were some searching questions . . .
Then we went into a huddle with our groups. We had a form to fill out, and then we came back together for some further dialogue.
Simple, yet profound. The EQUAL process did not quite fit this particular product, yet there was a recognition that with some adjustments, it had a useful role to play. I hope Bev gets a chance to go through this process once more at least. They described the product as a ‘living document’
Tea out later.
Bev a lot more relaxed.