Partner for More

August 19, 2011

I was cleaning my office to head off on vacation and ran across the article I wrote last year for the Continuing Higher Education Review about the work UC Berkeley ETS has done in our Opencast project and our engagement in higher education community source projects.

“Partner for More: Creating and Sustaining Collaboration to Support Campus-Based Rich Media”.

I meant to share it back then… Just shows how quickly time is moving!

2010-09-01_Partner For More Article – Mara Hancock

Sakai Conference 2011

June 16, 2011

Wrapped up the 2011 Sakai Conference in Los Angeles today. It started on Monday with a full day Opencast Matterhorn workshop. We had a packed room to start the day and it ebbed and flowed throughout the day. Bootcamp, implementation stories, speed dating… There is an impressive small group of vendors starting to come together to support the new project: Entwine (support services in AV design and software Dev.), Epiphan (hardware), NCast (hardware), and Longsight were all there. Big Blue Button is also working on an integration with Boise State. All-in-all it was a good day and I am really excited about the work being done on this project as it moves to it’s next stage and folks start adopting it. There is an impressive 762 instances installed around the world right now!

The conference was abuzz again with the promise of Sakai OAE, as it is on the verge of it’s v1 release. I think people are only starting to become aware of how transformative that product may be for our campuses. It is not your mother’s LMS nor is it your father’s portal… (I am sure someone else has said that already).

I am proud of the ETS team at Berkeley team for being an integral part of both of these projects.

Just a quick post on the session that Josh Baron, Jenn Stringer and I held at Educause Annual. For a Friday session at 8 am, we had a pretty good crowd. Held it in a point-counter point style trying to include the audience. Each question was accompanied by a fact slide with some statistic or report finding. The slides are available on the Educause session site. Inside Higher Ed also had an article, Fans and Fears of ‘Lecture Capture’, that included some highlights from our session and several other sessions on lecture capture. We intend to write more thorough paper on the topic over the next several months.

Positive Deviance

November 1, 2008

I attended the Frye Institute’s Alumni leadership workshop prior to Educause ’08 last week. The best part of the session was the morning when a small group of about nine of us set off to explore open source, open content, and collaboration. The conversation quickly headed down the path of ways in which the trends toward Open technologies (and we can include web 2.0 here) and open content are enabling stronger and more meaningful collaborations.

During the course of the conversation, Gardner Campbell introduced the concept of Positive Deviance. I don’t even remember how it came up, but it hit me like a great new hot salsa. I wanted more. It seemed so pertinent to challenges we face as managers in fostering innovation and encouraging creativity. But instead of being some great new “System” (yes, with a capital “S”), it is something that emerges through individual characteristics.There are people who do amazing things without batting an eyelash. They do not fit the norm, they make great things happen. And, like that new hot salsa, we want more of them. We need them helping to lead the way.

So I have started to do a little research on the subject (that is research with a lower case “r”). It has a fascinating history in the health services in developing countries but can also be applied to organizations. The University of Michigan Ross Business School states,

“A growing number of scholars believe positive deviance may be important for promoting subjective well-being and long-term organizational effectiveness.”

In an article in Fast Company, Jerry Sternin, the fellow responsible for testing out this theory in Vietnam back in the 1990s, says,

“The traditional model for social and organizational change doesn’t work,” says Sternin, 62. “It never has. You can’t bring permanent solutions in from outside.” Maybe the problem is with the whole model for how change can actually happen. Maybe the problem is that you can’t import change from the outside in. Instead, you have to find small, successful but “deviant” practices that are already working in the organization and amplify them. Maybe, just maybe, the answer is already alive in the organization — and change comes when you find it.”

Wikipedia provides a more general view:

“Positive Deviance (PD) is an approach to personal, organizational and cultural change based on the idea that every community or group of people performing a similar function has certain individuals (the “Positive Deviants”) whose special attitudes, practices/ strategies/ behaviors enable them to function more effectively than others with the exact same resources and conditions.[1] Because Positive Deviants derive their extraordinary capabilities from the identical environmental conditions as those around them, but are not constrained by conventional wisdoms, Positive Deviants standards for attitudes, thinking and behavior are readily accepted as the foundation for profound organizational and cultural change.”

The Postive Deviant Network names Seven Characteristics of Positive Deviants:

  1. Passion
  2. High Moral or Social Purpose
  3. Seeing Holes vs. the Net
  4. Moving Towards, Not Away
  5. Rapid Cognition
  6. Checking the Edges
  7. Low Regard for Social Convention

“Don’t teach new knowledge — encourage new behavior.”

If you are interested in learning more about these 7 characteristics, visit their web page (doesn’t work well in Firefox unfortunately) which has more detail about each characteristic.

I have more to learn about this concept, but I fully expect to continue to find some wonderful insights and ideas as I reflect upon and apply some of the concepts within the work environment at UC Berkeley. Thanks, Gardner, for the tip. Nothing like a little collaboration to expand our world! And of course, thanks to the open WWW for enabling me to find all this great information and thanks to those positive deviants that started it…

Opencast Deep Dive — Wow

October 19, 2008

I just came off two days of the Opencast deep dive. Prior to the Deep Dive, we had 3 days of pre-deep dive (really!). It was the central developers working together to define a proposal for the roadmap and architecture (now code-named Matterhorn).

The deep dive was an intense two days with around seventeen universities/organizations attending. The minutes, videos, and action items will be posted on the Opencast site next week.

Some random thoughts:

  • Building an open source community is an evolution
  • Bringing people along, building consensus, breaking through assumptions takes time
  • People feel better with concrete things to react to, but too much detail is inhibiting
  • The people and institutions involved in Opencast are incredibly diverse and multi-cultural, we have to be careful to ensure we understand eachother. Check and double check.
  • Building community around doing real concrete work is always best (see some of the good stuff going on in the Sakai Pedagogy group, for example)
  • There is a lot of great knowledge out there, the work is figuring out how to leverage it and extend it to new contexts

Generally, I am feeling really hopeful in regards to the ability of this community (growing rapidly) to be able to deliver on a common infrastructure and project. If you are at all interested in the idea of an enterprise podcast system, I encourage you to join the opencast forums and email lists. Lots of good stuff going on.

Thanks to Seamus and Julian at Graphic Mint we are able to launch our first Opencast Community Workshop with a new logo and look and feel. Check it out.

In April, I presented at the Western Regional Educause on the Fluid project. An SFSU staff member was there, Wen Hau Chuang, and was interested in the project, its goals, and its methods. He has invited me to sit on a Moodle Usability Panel at the upcoming MoodleMoot on June 10-11 in SF. Never having been to a MoodleMoot before, I am really looking forward to getting a sense of the larger Moodle community. The Fluid community is also working on identifying Moodle usability issues, out of our York University Partnership, so I will be bringing some of their learnings to share at the Moot (is that how you say it?).