We Are Media Continues--Some More Reflections on Community as Curriculum
Slow Learning for Fast Times

Continuing the Conversation on Community as Curriculum

Community_4 After yesterday's post on NTEN's WeAreMedia Project and the process we're going through to build the curriculum, I got some great comments from people on the balance between allowing community curriculum to evolve and needing to provide some level of direction.

First was some good advice from Betsy Hansel to trust the process:

I think the dilemma is that you will not see exactly what happens to the module as it goes out there. Looking at your last few posts together, I see the need for trusting the process: Let Steve Jobs take calligraphy, for whatever reason moves him to do so and assume it's good. But this is also the pre-web thinking of a good liberal arts education. Why did I take Latin for two years? When did I last use my algebra? These courses surely affected my thinking in ways I don't totally understand even if I don't "use" them.

What I imagine happening is really depicted by that typewriter image you used from Neil Perkins: The authenticators, the sense-makers, the navigators... The only term I don't quite like is the forum leader, but let's let it stand for now since I don't have a better one ... will pick up and reshape the module and carry it off somewhere you don't expect. And much of this will happen off line or maybe online but within a working community or team. If you think about how in Web 1 you always reshaped each module to fit a particular context and audience before using it again, then you know the process.

Then again, it's a bit like sending your children out in the world, isn't it? You don't know what will happen or how they will process what you tried to teach them.

As someone who's better at giving this sort of advice than living by it, it was good to have Betsy remind me that this is the sort of evolutionary work that doesn't always immediately go where I think it should. By it's very nature social learning is messy and takes time. You have to trust that.

Beth Kanter and I ended up in some more discussion about how to make WeAreMedia more accessible as a training resource for people.

Beth pointed out to me that the NTEN project is a combo of pulling together online resources and then doing some face-to-face workshops, so originally it wasn't intended to be a stand-alone curriculum. But it's evolving in that direction so now we're thinking about what we can do to support that. In a subsequent post, she asks:

But what if we were to provide some guidance on how to reshape the wiki "content" for "instructors" or "learners"?   Michele offers two options for process:

a) Go through another iteration of Module 1 where a smaller group of instructional designer types take the content and re-organize and re-configure so that it's a "stand-alone" kind of workshop in the format that people seem to want

b) Create some kind of companion piece that explains to people how they can take the module content and reconfigure for their own use, teaching them a new skill in the process?

The first option feels a bit beyond the project scope of work, but the second looks very doable.  With that said,  I am very curious what the steps would be for option B? Do you have a check list or list of steps? I think that would be helpful to have as part of this?

What we're essentially needing here is a sort of "train-the-trainer" resource that gets into instructional design for the non-instructional designer. I had a couple of thoughts here in terms of things we can build from:

  • A few years ago, I had to work with some instructors who had no instructional design background (don't ask). I had one day, so I put together a quick ADDIE-based module that we used for them to take a topic and turn it into a learning module. The basic 14-page booklet is here. (PDF). I seriously simplified for this audience, but we may need to break it down even more for the WeAreMedia project. At a minimum we might be able to use the worksheets at the back of the booklet. I will say that I'm not sure that ADDIE is the right approach, but I'm also not sure how much we can do with this particular project.
  • Clive Shepherd put together a "60-Minute Masters" course in instructional design for e-learning that might be helpful. Although it's geared toward e-learning, the essential design principles are there and it's a nice module.
  • Would it be helpful to use a 23 Things sort of structure, with suggested activities? This was very engaging, but would require us to do more curriculum development than I think was intended for the project.

These are a couple of thoughts. One of my concerns is that what I have here is more for group workshops, rather than for self-study. Any ideas on how to handle that?  What resources, checklists, etc. do you have? How could we provide people with some structure and ideas on how to use the WeAreMedia resources to do workshops/training sessions of their own, both individually and in groups?  Please share them in comments or over at Beth's place.

Photo via libraryman


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Wow, thanks for sharing these resources. Quick clarification ..about the concept:

What we're essentially needing here is a sort of "train-the-trainer" resource that gets into instructional design for the non-instructional designer.

Would that be for instructional design for online instruction or for someone to use to design a face-to-face workshop?

There are some learning activities built into the modules, but these are along the lines of if you were teaching a face-to-face workshop with people in the room- what are some group activities.

So, I wonder whether in the editing process - it would be possible shape the modules more into the 23 things .. I like that a lot. Love all these resources too .. I'm off to ponder that more.

Beth, you're identifying some of my own questions. I know that you're planning to do some face-to-face workshops as part of the project, but thought that as a longer-term resource, other people might be thinking about doing the same themselves. Presumably you'll be providing some of the activities that you end up doing with the group, but I'm also wondering if there isn't a need to give people some kind of "instructional design" basics for them to consider in putting together their own workshops, since so few people in nonprofits have this skill.

From an online learning perspective, I also like the 23 Things approach, so maybe what we do is put together some quick "exploration" kinds of activities that let people use the resources that are being gathered to do some exploring/thinking, either on their own or as part of a group thing.

I feel like I'm rapidly expanding the scope of this thing, but at the same time, I'm trying to think through the best ways to add value around this idea.

These are excellent ideas and adding them to the conversation thread over at the wiki


I've been observing this from afar, but thinking about it, and having a lot of mixed feelings. Yes, I want to empower people to be able to create what they need. However, there really is some expertise to creating effective training/learning.

I did training and facilitation for 15 years before going back for a degree in it. I remember many times in school where I thought to myself that is why such and such wasn't successful-- or that is what went wrong-- or if I only knew this before.

So perhaps a guide about how to design, perhaps a 23 things project, but I wonder can you really learn enough to be really effective? Does it serve people, esp the participants of whatever learning, if we make the design and development look too easy?

I hear what you're saying, Christine. Part of where I'm coming from on this is that so many organizations simply won't pay for well-designed training and will do things themselves, so at least if we give them a framework, maybe it will be better quality. Or they might not do it at all without some kind of framework, so at least if they have something they'll be more likely to do the training. I'm not sure where the balance is, though, because obviously there's more to it than just a quick guide to instructional design.

Hi, I'm not sure whether you have payment for this, but it sound like creating a community of practice would be great!

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