Value Creation in Communities of Practice – further insights

I first wrote about the Value Creation Framework when I attended last year’s BEtreat in Grass Valley, California (2011) – see Value Creation in Communities of Practice

This year (Academic BEtreat 2012 ) the value creation framework has again been a topic for discussion, with the added advantage of having a few participants who are using it or planning to use it.  It was a useful discussion, which has further informed my thinking and practice; I am currently working on a project in which we are using the value creation framework to inform our approach to knowledge management in a third sector organization.

The key points for me were:

There has been a tendency (at least in my mind) to confuse value creation with evaluation. The term evaluation is not helpful in this context as it brings with it notions of assessment. I say this despite the fact that both the words ‘evaluation’ and ‘assessment’ are used on the Wenger-Trayner website.

The focus of the value creation framework on storytelling and indicators of value creation (a matrix of indicators and stories) is designed to explore what counts as value in a community of practice. The matrix is the key element of the framework.

Value Creation Matrix

(click on the image to enlarge)

Whilst some quantitative data is collected through the use of the value creation framework (e.g. website statistics as an indicator of immediate value in Cycle 1), much of the framework focuses on collecting qualitative data though story telling in answer to questions such as ‘What activities have you participated in and how has this participation changed your practice?’ or ‘What were the key things that happened that made a difference?’ Stories answer the ‘so what’ question.

My perception is that the process of collecting stories is not that easy to manage, unless it is part of a research project and the stories can be collated and analysed by a research assistant. Analysing stories is a skilled job and begs the question of who will do this in an organization without a researcher.

A number of stories will be needed to validate value creation at a collective level and this will generate a lot of data. It will also require a lot of ‘man hours’, since the story collection process will ideally involve 3 people – the person telling the story, the person responsible for drawing the story out, and the recorder. Value can of course be collected at the individual level, but this is unlikely to impress stakeholders and funders. We need to convince stakeholders and funders and maybe even the senior management team that story telling is not just ‘qualitative fluff’. The value creation matrix combines qualitative and quantitative data with causality trails between indicators. The only people who know and understand the causality links are the storytellers themselves. Thinking of stories as causal trails is more likely to lead to rigorous analysis of the stories.

Stories can also be about ‘lack of value’ and these will be just as valuable.

The value creation framework can be used both prospectively and retrospectively. It’s the negotiation of indicators of value creation in each cycle that is important. These indicators may be emergent and come through in the process of telling a story, e.g. an emerging indicator in Cycle 5 might be the renegotiation of what is viewed as success (an aspirational story), which might happen in an appraisal or performance review process. This would help to shift the appraisal process from being a vertical one to being a transversal one (see Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner’s slide – ‘Vertical and Horizontal Accountability – the need for transversality’ – in my last blog post about Social Learning Capability

Negotiation of indicators is critical to the success of the value creation process. In the negotiation of indicators stakeholders should clarify why an indicator is important.

Examples of indicators

(click on the image to enlarge)

 The following two stories illustrate why the negotiation of indicators is important and how inappropriate use of indicators can be misleading.

  1. Surgeons in New York were graded on the mortality rate of patients – but knowing this, surgeons would aim to achieve a high grade by turning away patients they couldn’t save.
  2. Russian shoe-makers were graded on the number of shoes they could make out of the least amount of leather. They responded by focusing on making Size 5 shoes which led to a shortage in larger sizes.

The value creation framework should be adapted to suit different communities of practice. Indicators of value creation may be unique to the community.

The framework should hopefully become a tool for reflection both at the individual and collective level – a dynamic tool for reflecting on learning capability and optimizing learning.

The number of case studies of how the value creation framework is being used appears to be increasing. The next challenge will be to prove to funders and stakeholders, through the analysis of the stories/data, that the time spent in applying the value creation framework has been well spent.

Academic BEtreat (#betreat12) pre-conference call

The Academic BEtreat is underway. We have had our first conference call, to prepare for next week.

Screenshot from the Pre-Conference Call

There are 16 participants from across the world – eight will be in California meeting face-to-face and eight will join the BEtreat online. I am in the latter group.  There will be a ‘buddy system’ where face-to-face participants will be paired up with online participants. The idea is that f2f participants will represent the online participants. I wonder if it could/should also work the other way round.

Juggling time zones is going to be a challenge for the synchronous meetings – since participants are from the US, Europe and Japan. Evidently we will negotiate times for synchronous sessions, but realistically I think I will be working at least until midnight for most of the week. Although I know it could be worse than this I am naturally more of an early bird than a night owl – so it will be an interesting challenge.

The format is similar to the format for last year, although I think there is more asynchronous time built into the programme this year and more time for reflection – which is good.

Academic BEtreat Programme

As for last year the programme is divided up into different group activities and colour coded according to these activities.

  • Pale yellow marks the start and end of the BEtreat.
  • Pink is for leadership group activities. I will be in the Critical Friends group where we reflect on the process such as taking care of online and offline integration. We will be able to do some of this work asynchronously
  • Purple is for theory discussion activities in which we will review Etienne’s book. There are 5 theory review sessions covering – Meaning, Learning in communities of practice,Boundaries and scale, Identity, Identification and power
  • On Wednesday morning there is a theory preview session in which Etienne and Bev will present their most recent work.
  •  There are also three thematic discussion groups to deepen discussion on – Learning theory and research, Value creation and evaluation, Adult pedagogy, technology and professional development (I will be in this group)
  • Gold and yellow sections are for social activities (for the f2f participants)
  • Finally, we need to introduce ourselves – in the case of online people through creating a wiki page to provide a context for who we are and what we do. At the end of the week, we will create an action plan to take our work forward and post it on this page.
Academic BEtreat Wiki Homepage

It will be very interesting to be online on this BEtreat this year having been there in person in California last year. I’m wondering whether it will make a difference to how I feel about the integration of online and face-to-face working. (I made this blog post after last year’s betreat).  I also want to see whether it is easier to understand the cultural context than it was last year given this is an Academic BEtreat. (This was the blog post I made last year in relation to this). Finally, I am hoping to learn more about the relationship between meaning, learning and identity in terms of how an understanding of this would apply in the practice of teaching and learning, and more about the value creation framework and how to apply this in practice. I have started blogging about this and hope to continue if time allows – but it might be a bit hectic!

#FSLT12 Week 3 with Etienne and Bev Wenger-Trayner

We have had what feels like a bit of a pause over the weekend – many UK participants were maybe taking a break for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. Its not often we get two Bank Holidays in a row, Monday and Tuesday. But people are beginning to drift back now.

(Click on the diagram to see it more clearly)

Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner

The Open Academic Practice thread of Week 3 features Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner,  who will be presenting in the live session on “Theory, pedagogy, and Identity in Higher-Education Teaching.” Wednesday 06 June, 2012, 1500 BST.  I am really looking forward to this session. I have been following Etienne’s work for quite a few years and now that he has married Bev, I will be following Bev too 🙂

Click here   to enter the Blackboard Collaborate room.

Check your time zone

Feedback

The First Steps Curriculum this week is covering Feedback, i.e. how to give feedback to students. Research has shown that despite teachers best efforts many students are only concerned with the grade and don’t even read the feedback we give them, i.e. they jump through the necessary hoops to get their qualification, but don’t appear to be interested in learning for its own sake. See for example, this paper

Gibbs, G. & Simpson, C. (2004-05) Conditions Under Which Assessment Supports Students’ Learning. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, Issue 1.

An internet search will result in finding a PDF of the paper and it is well worth reading.

Of course there are many students who are passionate about learning (and they are such a privilege to work with) – but also many do just need and want that piece of paper. As a teacher, it can be disappointing when this is the case, but never more so than when the student is a PhD student. A question for teachers is whether feedback can be used to engage students (not just PhD students) and leverage higher quality learning. Apostolos Koutropoulos has initiated a discussion about this in the #fslt12 Week 3 Moodle Forum

I interpret Apostolos’ comments as relating to feed forward. I have long felt that unless the student is ‘bone idle’, or clearly on the wrong course (i.e. their strengths simply do not align with course requirements), then if the student fails, the tutor has to carefully question their own failings. As Apostolos writes – ‘feed forward’, i.e. catching the student before they ‘go wrong’, can raise standards and make the learning experience more satisfactory for learners and teachers. Reading University has done some work on feed forward

Activity 2 Collaborative Bibliography

Finally, Activity 2 is due to be completed this week. This collaborative bibliography wiki activity  is beginning to yield some interesting outcomes. The purpose of the activity is to consider the requirements of a literature review and how to critically review a piece of scholarly literature.  There is a link on Oxford Brookes’ own website which is a helpful starting point, but some other helpful resources  have been posted on the Moodle site and I’m sure there are many more out there. It would be useful to gather some together. For example

I like this blog  and The Thesis Whisperer is another great blog for PhD students or those working with PhD students.

And finally another great source of information for PhD students is #phdchat on Twitter

So there’s never a dull moment in FSLT12 🙂

#fslt12 MOOC – Registration

Although the development of the First Steps into Learning and Teaching in Higher Education MOOC is still a work in progress, the course is now open for Registration – http://openbrookes.net/firststeps12/registration/

‘First Steps into Learning and Teaching in Higher Education’ is a free online course, which will run from 21 May to 22 June 2012, and will introduce new and aspiring lecturers to teaching and professional development in higher education. We also welcome experienced lecturers who wish to update and share their knowledge and expertise.

Why Register?

There are a few reasons

  1. We will know you are interested and have your email address, should we need to contact you or you us.
  2. You will be able to tell us whether you are interested in being assessed. We only have 25 assessment places, so do register early if you are interested.
  3. Some aspects of the course are only accessible through registration, e.g. the Moodle discussion forums

The Assessment Activities

The three activities we have designed, which you can find details of on the Moodle site, are for everyone – not only those who choose to be assessed. We hope that many participants will complete these activities, openly share them and that there will be lots of peer assessment. For us, this would exemplify open academic practice and also engagement with some of the principles of learning and teaching in HE.

Other activities in this MOOC might include, blogging, participating in Moodle discussion forums, interacting in distributed spaces of your choice on the web (but don’t forget to tag your posts with #fslt12), and attending the live sessions to hear our guest speakers

  • Frances Bell, “The Role of Openness by Academics in the Transformation of their Teaching and Learning Practices”, Wednesday 30 May 2012, 1500 BST
  • Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner, “Theory, Pedagogy, and Identity in Higher-Education Teaching.” Wednesday 06 June, 2012, 1500 BST,
  • Dave White,  ”The Impact on Teachers of Open Educational Resources and Open Academic Practice in the Digital University.” Wednesday 13 June, 2012, 1500 BST

Assessment

By registering and opting for assessment, you will be agreeing to complete the 3 activities and will receive feedback on these activities from George, Marion or me. At the end of the course you will receive an Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development (OCSLD) Certificate. Details of the activities can be found on the Moodle site. Once you have registered, click on each of the tabs for each week to access these, but please remember that the site is still being developed so there could be changes to the content before the course opens on May 21st.

This is a ‘massive open online course’ (MOOC), and offers you the freedom to decide whether you wish to be assessed (and receive a completion certificate), how you want to engage with the course and how much you want to interact with the content and other participants.

My Reflections at this Point

This is an exciting but rather daunting process. We have had lots of interest, with people from all over the world expressing interest in different aspects of learning and teaching in Higher Education.

I am beginning to realize the amount of work that must go on behind the scenes in the other MOOCs I have attended 🙂

We have deliberately chosen to distribute the course across different platforms – WordPress (for the Home site), Moodle (for the course), Blackboard Collaborate (for the live synchronous sessions) and we are still discussing whether or not to have a separate wiki site, or to go with the wiki in Moodle.  The reason for this decision (i.e. the different platforms) is that we hope to introduce participants new to teaching in HE to the idea that learning can take place in a variety of online spaces.

Access to our WordPress site has been open pretty much from the word go, and now access to the Moodle site has been opened, despite the fact that neither of these is yet ready. For me, this is a new way of working and takes a bit of getting used to (heart in your mouth stuff!).

Finally, we are conscious that the course has been designed to attract people for whom this way of working and the technology involved might be completely new –so we have to achieve the right balance between providing enough structure and support and encouraging open academic practice and independent learning – one of the many tensions involved in designing a MOOC.

That’s it for now.

We hope lots of people will register and find the course useful, and that you won’t hesitate to comment or ask questions as we continue to get ready for this MOOC.