On-line interaction and fear of the unknown

On-line interaction and fear of the unknown

An excellent commentary and explanation about on-line facilitation from Nancy White over at Full Circle. Very topical for me at the moment as I begin a new contract working as Interim Head of the Information Authority, a new Secretariat sponsored by the DfES and the LSC. One of the key responsibilities for this newly established body (the Information Authority) is to balance need against burden for all information and reporting requirements across the education sector.

My initial thoughts were along the lines of establishing a facilitated stakeholder community, consisting of all interested people, groups and agencies across the further education sector, and through this ‘community’, encourage  transparency on the impact (burden) of requests for new or changed information. Typical changes are in the way that schools and colleges measure success, and change requests can originate from many different sources, from Ministers and government bodies (e.g. Ofsted) to individual schools and colleges.

However, I soon learnt there is a language issue to overcome first. My initial soundings on the concept of using an on-line community approach to evaluate, process and agree changes to data standards and reporting requirements did not go down too well, and the concept of employing on-line facilitator’s for managing change though this embryonic community was akin to talking about encounters of the third kind!

However, I’ve made some headway by making sure that instead of discussing  ‘communities’, I refer instead to ‘stakeholder collaboration’, which is going to require ‘change coordinators’ to manage discussion and connections between the stakeholders (thus, for on-line facilitator, read ‘change coordinator).

So lesson learnt here – speak the language that  people  you are working with understand.   The concepts of communities (of interest or of practice) and on-line facilitation are steps into the unknown for some people, and  anything unknown is perceived as a project risk!

More of this later when I’ve either been given the go ahead (or not) to progress with my ‘stakeholder collaboration’ and ‘change coordinator’ strategy.

My thanks to Nancy for enabling me to produce the job specification for my ‘change coordinators’ from her posting!

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