I attach the report which shows our collective activity and the results of our enterprise.
This was the month that we created a core team (rather than a team on paper). We held our first team meeting (Jenny, Russ, Brian and me) at the start of the month and this was a very important point in our history. For the first time we were all involved in a conversation about what this was all about and we got agreement on the way forward. But the most important thing for me to emerge through our conversations, emails and individual engagements during the month was the way in which our core team came together. We are all volunteers and people give what they can when they can but somehow we manage to achieve a lot and I think that makes us feel good as a team. Everyone plays their part and we have already established a culture of participation . I feel supported in my decision making for the company and I think the team feel that they are involved in the planning and decision making.
We agreed that we should begin our campaign to raise awareness of the enterprise and invite people to join us.At the start of the month we began with about 30 people registered on the site and by the end we have 156 people. A phenomenal achievement really and one that fills me with hope that there are a lot of people working in higher education that see value in what we are offering. The devil is in the detail and a lot of time was invested in engaging the networks and forming communications that were appropriate and appealing.
Written reports rarely convey the detail that underlies the actions that lead to something useful. For example - we decided to look for people who were influential who would be willing to act as patrons. We identified Charles Handy as being someone suitable - I spent time hunting down his address on the net, bought a book he had written about himself and used the information in this to confirm his address - there were several Charles' Handy's listed, then carefully composed a letter that was circulated to the team for comment. After making adjustments in response to feedback I posted the letter with a copy of the book and Newsletter and behold I had a positive response by email, which I then responded to.. The detail gets invented as you act and you are never quite sure what amount of detail will work but at some point you decide yes this gives us the best chance of success.
When you look at the whole programme of work there are headings like - engage JISC networks but decisions have to be made and communications have to be crafted, and groups have to be set up to encourage participation.. everything is an unfolding, dynamic story and once committed you have to go where the action takes you. But this is what I enjoy doing. I enjoy creating activity and action that causes things to happen and at the end of the month I can see that we are in a very different place to where we were at the start of the month.
So what I have learnt from this first month. Well I am more confident that our ideas and enterprise has wide appeal and in my mind I am already scaling up my conservative estimate of the size of the community we can grow - assuming that we can maintain interest. Activity that leads to good results enhances confidence.
I have also developed a lot of knowledge for practice for examples, I now know that we have, through the JISC maillists, and our own community email list extracted from our website, the means to communicate with a lot of potentially interested people.
I know that we can produce a good quality Magazine. We have a good editor and we are able to either write ourselves or attract good people.
Having invested a lot of time in learning how to manage the website I am also now confident that I can be an effective administrator and with Ed Sillars (Chalk Mountain technology director) we can manage the technical side of the website. I have also built/ created a new website and have begun blogging as a piece of activity-based research in order to get more experience of how we might use technology to support an accreditation scheme. So this website is the result of my efforts. I must say that I have felt this to be a very creative process.
I also made my first wikipedia entry 'Lifewide Education' and learnt through the experience how the peer review process works. The article I ended up with was so much better for the intervention of a peer.
In the past month I have invested a lot of time in learning how to use different technologies in order to support the lifewide education enterprise.
I have also begun to engage with the RSA. I attended two meetings and managed to speak to a number of Fellows. I also registered in the Fellowship Social Network and made my first posts. I now have a better idea about what is possible and I am less optimistic about engaging Fellows after my first attempt to post in the Fellows Social network.
Finally, thanks to John Cowan's ideas, we made good progress towards setting out initial ideas for an accreditation scheme. This will be a major focus for work in the next month.
Overall the month has confirmed to me that, yes you can have plans for action but the detail of the activity, and a whole pile of new activities, emerge in the process of turning your vision and plans into something concrete. Ultimately, its your ability to sense what is the right thing to do at the right time and to improvise appropriate actions that lead to the effects you want. And if they don't you simply try something else.