Tuesday, March 8, 2016

FLO Design Sprint

cross-posted from
What happens when you put a group of experienced, energetic facilitators in a room for a couple days? They whip together a curriculum plan for the future of Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) workshops!
Thanks to hosting by the CTET at Royal Roads University, and generous contribution of time and expertise by FLO facilitators, our first design sprint was extremely fruitful.
FLO Sprint p2p
Thanks to Tracy Kelly for the awesome participatory graphic wall!

Who sprinted

Three of our FLO facilitators were unable to join the sprint in person, but that didn’t stop them from contributing in other ways.

What we accomplished

  • A clear and mutual understanding of our purpose, principles, participants, structure, and FLO Sprint whiteboardpractices (thanks to the P2P Liberating Structure)
  • A thorough review of current themes and activities in FLO
  • A redesign plan for the FLO workshop
  • Clear intended learning outcomes (ILOs)
  • Drafts of 3 new facilitation team activity descriptions
  • Revisions and additions to the FLO Facilitator guide
  • A sketch of what a new workshop focusing on design would look like
  • A business model for cost-recovery, and collaboration plan between RRU and BCcampus
That’s right. We did all this in two days, folks! But the flurry of activity continues as we prepare for the roll out of the new FLO April 4 – May 6, 2016. (Registration is now open!)
FLO Sprint room
Our yellow sprint room – photo by Grant Gregson

What’s next?

For now we’re calling ourselves a Steering Committee, but this charter group of FLO facilitators is perhaps more aptly called FLO Enthusiasts. The group is committed to making sure FLO flows in the right direction. In addition to workshop (re)design and implementation, the group is:
  • considering future “going deeper” modules/mini-workshops,
  • exploring ways to author, organize and share FLO OER, and
  • making plans to support facilitators in other ways
BCcampus and Royal Roads University will continue to collaborate by:
  • coordinating the schedule of offerings to maximize opportunities for all faculty in BC
  • establishing and maintaining core curriculum for both facilitating and designing learning online)
As always, BCcampus is very interested in supporting post secondary institutions in the adoption of workshop OER, including implementation and facilitator support. Please get in touch if this is of interest! (


Facilitating Learning Online (FLO)

Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) continues to evolve and we're about the roll out the best workshop experience ever! This year we are moving to a cost-recovery model. This enables us to continue to develop FLO offerings, and support the brilliant facilitators and growing community.

Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) ​ 

When: 4 April - 6 May, 2016 Cost: $495 + GST

Facilitators: Sylvia Riessner and Beth Cougler Blom, with assistance from Facilitator Development Online (FDO) alumni.

What: FLO activities provide an authentic environment for faculty to learn about and practice skills related to facilitating learning.

More information:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

BEtreat Workshops in Penticton

It's hard to believe that two years have passed since I completed the Cutting Edge BEtreat workshop, facilitated by Bev and Etienne Wenger-Trayner at their home in Grass Valley, California. When I looked back in my blog history (tag: betreat) I was alarmed to see there were only 3 published blogs posts. Of course, there are still a couple in draft mode, as per my usual habits. But my memory tells me that there should be many more. It was such a rich experience, and I learned SO MUCH!

My colleague, Leva Lee, completed the State of the Art BEtreat as an online participant. She also continues to rave about the workshop experience. Which is why we decided to bring it to British Columbia...

What is BEtreat?

BEtreat workshops are designed for leaders in social learning, communities of practice and networks. You bring your projects and challenges to the 4-day workshop that most closely match your experience and context. Is this your world? Then register!

State of the art

October 7 – 10, 2014 
This workshop is for people who want a systematic overview and firm grasp of current principles and practice applied to their context. We will explore best practices and work together to review and apply established models, approaches and techniques to your challenges – from starting up, to cultivating, and to monitoring the value.

Cutting edge

October 14 – 17, 2014 
This workshop is for people who are familiar with existing models and practice and want to develop more pioneering aspects of the field. We will explore emerging issues in social learning – as it applies to your case – as well as models and approaches we are still developing.


You, along with 10 – 15 other learning practitioners and administrators


Bev and EtienneBeverly Wenger-Trayner is a learning theorist and consultant specializing in communities of practice and social learning systems. Her expertise encompasses both the design of learning architectures and the facilitation of processes, activities, and use of new technologies.

Etienne Wenger-Trayner is a  globally recognized thought leader and consultant in the field of social learning and communities of practice. He has authored and co-authored seminal articles and books on the topic, including Situated Learning, where the term “community of practice” was coined.

Together, they are furthering the theory and practice of social learning leadership.

Where is BEtreat?

You may choose to participate online or on location. Grapeseed Guesthouse, Penticton, British Columbia.

In keeping with the Grass Valley California BEtreat, we thought it only made sense to host the workshop in the Okanagan Valley and combine good conversation with a little wine tasting  :-) 

Registration and details:

Early bird registration ends August 30, 2014.


We are offering scholarships of $600 toward workshop tuition to two individuals. To apply, send email to Sylvia Currie ( by July 31, 2014 with the subject heading “BEtreat Scholarship” and include 1 – 2 paragraphs that respond to this question:

Why is participation in the workshop is important to your project?

Questions? Just ask! Also, if you are not in a position to register at this point but would like to be kept in the loop, add your name to the Expression of Interest form.

Grab the brochure and pass it around!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Intellectual Estuaries

I take no credit for the use of this excellent metaphor for thinking about new spaces for productivity and learning, but Alice MacGillivray has been engaging people in conversations related to intellectual estuaries and boundary spanning for years. Next week I have the honour of co-facilitating the Intellectual Estuaries workshop with Alice and Nancy White at the 2014 Canadian Network for Innovation in Education conference in Kamloops. I'm excited to be collaborating with these fun and amazing women!

Nancy spinning the agenda, photo by Alan Levine

Alice engaging the twitterverse during a Community Enthusiast event, photo by Hilda Anggraeni

I was fortunate to be Alice's Dissertation Fest "host" at CPsquare in 2008 where she invited us to explore ideas around boundaries, the topic of her dissertation: Perceptions and Uses of Boundaries by Respected Leaders — a Trans-disciplinary Inquiry.

Later, Alice co-facilitated the Vancouver Gathering of Community Enthusiasts events in May 2010May 2011, and June 2012 and each time introduced new metaphors, technologies, and ways of thinking about engagement.

As I was digging into the workshop planning with Alice and Nancy, I was transported back to the 2010 Community Enthusiasts event where, thanks to Alice's facilitation and Nancy's excellent visuals, we harvested quite a collection of thought-provoking ideas and questions related to working across boundaries, and informal and formal learning and meeting places. It's a great example of the power of metaphors for thinking about, and rethinking, communities of practice and social learning. I'm capturing it here in point form (partially because I don't trust Flickr will be with us forever!):

Sticky comments by participants:
- Reflection:
* group still together?
* getting big pictures?
* check in
* change leadership?

- Time to strategize
* Are we going in the right direction?
* check gear - are we ok?
- Places of discovery

- A landmark
* charts the course

- Time to slow down (deliberate)
* look around (back and forward)
* a luxury (build it into the project!)
* do it when things go wrong...reframe the problem

- Can be treacherous
* current flow changes...could dump!
* tough to get out of eddy
* Is that where you want to go?

Sticky comments by participants: 
- understanding the value of not trying to bring together things that don't mix
- Too much diversity too soon can be a problem. Need to grow organically.
- Things from 'outside' are sometimes seen as having more value
- Narrowing too quickly can be a problems too
- Keeping history and noting significance so that later-comers can understand value of confluence

Sticky comments by participants:
- History of community
- Mutualism = give and take
- Community: time, goal, project durations
- Power players
- Partnership?
- Goal is mutualism
- There are builders, users, and mutualizers
- Communities across boundaries

Sticky comments by participants:
- Individual vs communal migration
- hibernation, going dormant for awhile...allows new leadership to take over
- Difficult to report on metrics
- How to measure vibrancy?
- Are there scenarios of over population in online communities?
- Migration pathways...what they tell us of needs/habits of communities
- Migration as a with change of season...return, journey between communities
- Collective of smaller communities -- allows for more movement
- What are the attributes of a community that encourage you to stay or go?
- Migrating can break cliques
- Something to be embraced...constant growth sustainable?
- Carrying capacity

Sticky comments by participants:
- Keep people and situations focused
- Interpretation of what $s are for
- Leaders can be the less likely!
- Different world views
- Personal comfort levels -- what is good for one is not necessarily good for another
- Resource management
- Don't all look the same
- Nurturing place of socialization
- Place for establishing community
- Protection
- Tendency to interfere -- knowing when to, or not!
- History and change...collision vs opportunities
- # Beavers -- food source, protection, MAJOR accomplishments
- Provide a safe place, risk management, experimentation

And finally, I included this one because the little people pulling Alice to the edge of her boundary is such a good example of how crossing it make a difference: "Alice goes public!"

For the Intellectual Estuaries workshop at CNIE, we want to support this same type of energy, using metaphor to encourage rich conversations. In a nutshell, we hope participants will think about their own contexts, and how intersections of groups, disciplines, cultures, locations, age... whatever... can create new synergies. As Alice puts it, these intersections are not a guarantee for success, but they can make space for unplanned successes.

Workshop Details and Plan

We didn't prepare slides for the workshop. Rather we gathered some resources and outlined the activities on Nancy's Full Circle wiki. I'm copying it here because it's always good to have a backup!

Intellectual Estuaries

In nature, estuaries are meeting places. Fresh water, salt water and land come together, enabling productivity and biodiversity that is greater than the sum of its parts. Similarly, university faculty members and learning and development professionals may be able to create—or enable the creation of “intellectual estuaries.” These spaces bring together often-unlikely groups of people for learning that can be greater than the sum of the knowledge they bring.

Design of these spaces involves boundary spanning or blurring, openness to possibility, productive tensions and inherent ambiguities. Intellectual estuary design is to traditional instructional design what the un-conference is to the conference.
(Full description on

Overview from Alice MacGillivray

Alice is unable to join the workshop because of a scheduling conflict, so she prepared this video for us. Now she has a workshop presence without being there. Good boundary spanning, eh?

Estuaries: Community Meeting Places

An image to help us get our heads into estuaries as a metaphor.

Organizational Charts - Why is this model so tenacious?

Underneath, workplaces look like this

What Alice has to say about that

The Problem? 

Creative work and progress in communities of practice doesn't filter back to the centre.

From Gerald Midgley et al: Theory and Practice of Boundary Critique

Our challenge

Interesting Stuff happens at the boundaries. How can we pay attention to that?
How can we apply these ideas to our own contexts?
What are the boundaries we have set up? How can we make them more permeable?
How can we bring together unlikely groups of people? Who would they be?

Our Stories

Alice has some excellent examples demonstrating Intellectual Estuaries based on her own experiences at Royal Roads University (RRU) and CPSquare, and also Fielding Graduate University.  The story I'm most familiar with is collaboration between RRU and CPSquare, where members of a course KM 650 (can't find the title!) participated in the CPSquare Foundation of Communities of Practice workshop as part of their course requirements. 

Activity: 25/10

(from Liberating Structures)

1. Write down your bold idea
2. Mill around, pass your card to someone else, quickly review


3. Stop passing cards and pair up with someone nearby. Exchange thoughts.
4. Rate the idea on the card you are holding using a score of 1-5 (5 is high). Write the score on the back of the card.


5. Continue to pass cards around


6. Repeat 3 more times | Exchange > BELL > Exchange > BELL > Exchange > BELL

7. Add up the score on the card you are holding

8. Report out from those holding a score of 25, then 24, and so on until top 10 ideas have been shared

9. Comments on process?

Next Steps

I plan to take photos and report back on this session and others at the CNIE conference. Here's the full schedule.

See Share Create Visual E-Interviews

Webinar: See Share Create Visual E-Interviews

Monday May 12 17:00/10 am PDT, 1 pm EDT

Must interview questions be asked and answered with words? Learn to use videoconferencing, web conferencing technologies for elicitation techniques with graphics, photos & media and collaborative methods to generate visual data within the online interview.

More information and resources here: No registration, just log into Blackboard Collaborate for the webinar: 

This is the final live event of the book launch series hosted by the SCoPE community to celebrate the release of Qualitative Online Interviews

Monday, May 5, 2014

Qualitative Online Interviews

Last week we kicked off a 2-week SCoPE seminar on Quality in Online Interview Research. Although the discussions coincide with Janet Salmon's upcoming book: Qualitative Online Interviews, the purpose of the seminar is to have a conversation and share resources, so anyone involved in online interview research (isn't that most of us?) will be able to dig in.

The asynchronous forum discussion is anchored on 2 webinars:

Webinar: Fair & Good? Ethics & Quality in Online Interview Research
When: Monday May 5, 2014 at 10:00 am PDT (see your time zone)
Where: SCoPE Blackboard Collaborate Room
Description: When reflecting on your own design or completed study, when reviewing student work-- or serving as a peer reviewer-- what should you look for in qualitative studies that use data collected online? What ethical questions should be considered?

Webinar: See, Share, Create: Visual E-Interviews 
When: Monday, May 12, 2014 at 10:00 am PDT (see your time zone)
Where: SCoPE Blackboard Collaborate Room
There's also a tweet chat Tweetchat #NSMNSS scheduled for Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 7:00 am PDT: 5 Tips for Teaching E-Interview Methods

Go to the SCoPE seminar forum for all the details and conversations.  The book will be released May 13, 2014 from Sage Publications.