Telling tales from the Emerge community Stories from community members: Part 2

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i








Telling tales from the Emerge community


Stories from community members: Part 2



Report based on AI interviews with 8 members of the Emerge CoP


Prepared by


Patsy Clarke and Rhona Sharpe


OCSLD, Oxford Brookes University


September 2008







Th
e stories on which this report is based are available to the Emerge community
. They have
been added to the shared stories on the
Appreciative Inquiry Moodle site

at:
http://vle.jiscemerg
e.org.uk/mod/wiki/view.php?id=87
.

You may distribute this report, but not the stories on which it is based.




ii

Contents


Contents

ii

1

Background

1

2

Evaluation procedure

1

3

Findings

2

3.1

Criteria

of success

................................
................................
................................
.................

2

3.2

Contributory factors to success

................................
................................
.............................

2

3.2.1

Design factors
................................
................................
................................
....................

2

3.2.2

Team factors

................................
................................
................................
......................

3

3.2.3

User engagement

................................
................................
................................
..............

3

3.2.4

Communication and collaboration

................................
................................
.....................

3

3.3

The role and approach to User Engagement

................................
................................
........

3

3.4

Use of Web 2.0 technologies

................................
................................
................................
.

3

3.5

Role and va
lue of Emerge events

................................
................................
.........................

4

3.5.1

Dragon’s Den evaluation events

................................
................................
.......................

7

3.5.2

Emerging Mondays

................................
................................
................................
...........

7

3.6

Role and value of Emerge membership

................................
................................
................

8

3.6.1

Networking

................................
................................
................................
.........................

8

3.6.2

Personal/professional development

................................
................................
..................

8

3.7

Levels of engagement with the Emerge community

................................
..............................

8

3.8

Expressed wishes and hopes for Emerge’s future

................................
................................

9

3.9

M
etaphors illustrating aspects of Emerge membership

................................
........................

9

4

Recommendations

11

4.1

Emerg
e events

................................
................................
................................
.....................

11

4.2

Equal opportunities for engagement in Emerge community activities

................................
.

11

4.3

Inclusion of ‘outlier’ projects
................................
................................
................................
.

11

4.4

Novel communication technologies and harnessing emerging specialisms

.......................

11

4.5

Emerge online interface, access and interactivity

................................
...............................

12

4.6

Sharing success

................................
................................
................................
..................

12

4.7

Affirmation of ‘culture’ change

................................
................................
.............................

12

4
.8

The post
-
project future of JISC Emerge

................................
................................
..............

12

5

Conclusion

12

6

References

13

Appendix 1: Invitation/recruitment email

15

Appendix 2 : Information sheet and interview prompts

16

Appendix 3
:

AI Interview outline, June
-
August 2008

17


Appendix 4: Consent form

18

List of Table
s / Figures


Table 1:

Projects selected to be interviewed

..
………………………………

……
…1

Table 2:
Web 2.0 and related applications used in projects

………………
……


4


Figure 1:
Emerge
-

a constellation of diverse levels and types of engagement
....13




Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

September

2008



1


1

Background

“Appreciative inquiry is a process that promotes positive change (in

organisat
ions or communities) by focusing on peak experiences and
successes ..”

(Mathie and Cunningham, 2003: 478)


This report is a sequel to the earlier report (
Experiencing Emerge: stories from community members,

March 2008), part of the ongoing Appreciative Inq
uiry (AI) to support Emerge in its role of helping the
JISC to form an effective and sustainable community of practice around the User Engagement model.


AI related activities as part of the Emerge project have included feedback in various forms from
surv
eys, workshops and interviews as part of a research process that:

o

i
s iterative and ongoing,

o

aims to
inform the community tasks and operations,

o

is a tool for positive change,

o

is
part of a shared, collective inquiry, and

o

involves multiple data collection me
thods and times.


The earlier

Experiencing Emerge


report focused on member accounts of the impact of joining the
large newly formed Emerge community. Among its recommendations were those related to extending
membership to researchers with related experti
se
and
the value of the Emerge events
. Since then
‘critical friends’
have been appointed to the funded Emerge projects and events formats now include

online events
with

archiving of sessions for those unable to attend. (The full report of that earlier
sta
ge is available online
1
).



This current report
, as before, is based
on AI mode interviews with
two
team members
each from four

Emerge projects

who have not been interviewed

previously. Their accounts of their experiences and
reflections on their ongoing
work with

Emerge projects

contributes
to the ongoing inquiry into the
development of the Emerge community and its
impact
on its

members and their work
on

the JISC
funded Emerge projects.

2

Evaluation procedure

“Appreciative inquiry … relies on interviews and

storytelling that draw out
positive memories, and on a collective analysis of the elements of success.”


(Mathie and Cunningham, 2003: 478)


In order to obtain a range of perspectives,
the four p
rojects purposively selected included
those that
had not been interviewed previously; both
‘small’ and ‘large’ projects in terms of the funding allocation,
and represented a range of topics, goals and approaches. Table 1 provides a listing of the
interview
ed

projects

in this round of the evaluation
.

Table 1: Projects selected to be interviewed

Project title

Project focus

Partner institutions

ARGOSI


(Alternate Reality Games for Orientation, Socialisation and
Induction). Develop and evaluate an Alternate

Reality Game
(ARG) to support the student induction process.

Manchester Metropolitan
University and the University of
Bolton

ASEL

(Audio Supported Enhanced Learning). To develop, implement
and evaluate the use of audio within next generation
technologies

to support, enhance, and personalise the learner
experience

Universities of Bradford and
Hertfordshire

HeLMET

(HORUS e
-
Learning Management Extension for Tutors). To
deliver services to support collaborative working within distributed
work
-
based communiti
es of practice.

Manchester University working
with medical school and hospital
staff

Open Habitat

Use of Multi
-
User Virtual Environments (MUVEs) as an
integrated part of their learning e.g. Art and design students
building in a virtual studio in Second Li
fe; Philosophy students
discussing issues of identity in Second Life.

University of Oxford, Leeds
Metropolitan University and
King’s College London


(
1

Available on the Emerge AI site at:
http://vle.jiscemerge.org.uk/mod/resource/view.php?id=168
)



Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

September

2008



2



Each te
am leader was invited by email (see Appendix 1) to volunteer two project members for
telephone interviews.

Information sheets plus an outline of interview prompt questions were emailed
to each volunteer (see Appendix 2). Providing the interview volunteers

with the interview questions
ahead of time provided the opportunity for their reflection on the issues within the context of their
Emerge project work. In addition consent forms were included to be completed and returned (see
Appendix 3).


The interviews

covered the following areas:


o

Examples of success in their Emerge projects and perceived contributory factors to that
success

o

The role of user engagement, its extent and means of implementation

o

The role of Web 2.0 technology/
-
ies

o

Role and value of Emerge
events

o

Impact of Emerge membership on personal and/or professional development and project
work

o

Hopes/recommendations for Emerge’s future

o

An illustrative metaphor for the experience of Emerge membership.


The interviews were conducted
by phone
between Jun
e and August 2008 at mutually arranged times
and ranged in duration between 35 minutes to an hour plus. Transcripts and resulting
case studies in
AI ‘story’ format
were returned to participants for review. Any requested changes, corrections or
additions
were made though these were mainly minor. The individual stories compiled from the
interviews are
currently published online linked to the Emerge AI Moodle site where they have been
added to the list of other shared AI stories.


The remainder of this repor
t presents findings based on the interviews
and

recommendations for
Emerge as an ongoing community of practice.


All quotes included for illustrative purposes are taken from the verbatim transcripts of the interviews
unless otherwise indicated.


3

Findings

3.1

Criteria of success

In terms of what was working well in the projects, members interviewed identified the following factors
as indications of the current success of their Emerge projects:

o

Being either on target or ahead of schedule in terms of the design
and implementation of their
projects e.g. pilot activities were either completed or about to begin

o

Having evidence from follow up evaluation interviews or related contact confirming
student/user approval and appreciation for their project
-
related experie
nces

o

Evidence of enthusiasm and skills development within the project teams and others
associated with the project

3.2

Contributory factors to success

The range of factors, summarised below, referred to in the interviews as contributing to the identified
succe
ss of projects include those resulting from effective and appropriate project design; team
characteristics in terms of skills, work ethos and personality; engagement with users; and effective
communication and collaborative processes.

3.2.1

Design factors

o

Exper
t project design help and guidance provided early on by the various Dragon

s Den
processes and events

o

Project and pilot study designs based on meaningful and authentic tasks that motivate users
to participate rather than be mere research 'guinea pigs'.




Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

September

2008



3


3.2.2

Team factors

o

Being part of an open, approachable team

o

Bringing to the project and research domain relevant expertise and ideas based on previous
practical experience

o

Identifying skills required and selecting project members with the relevant expertise

o

Popu
lating project teams with open and friendly enthusiasts who get along with one another

o

Acting on opportunities to involve others including for case studies making use of inter
-
disciplinary and inter
-
institutional links.

o

People within the team and from the

user community being prepared to 'take a risk' with
working in unfamiliar subject areas, unfamiliar technology and applications

o

Team members willingly putting into the project work more than their required hours.


3.2.3

User engagement

o

Investigating, anticipati
ng, monitoring and providing for identified user needs

o

Implementing, adapting or redefining the
user engagement model
appropriately for the
specific project

where, for example, the project focus is more on designing processes for
collaboration rather than

on software development

o

Where feasible incorporating users from the identified target group into the various project
phases

including project design
.


3.2.4

Communication and collaboration

o

Using online communication and collaborative technologies for geographic
ally dispersed
teams as well as those working in close proximity

o

Regular face to face meetings for teams whether they work in close or dispersed
geographical proximity locations

o

Ensuring that all plans, tasks and outcomes are transparent, centrally availab
le and shareable
by all team members, critical friends and others interested in or doing similar work
.


3.3

The role and approach to User Engagement

“(Their) enthusiasm is really good; the participation of users is working
well because they provide really good

feedback.”


Those interviewed interpreted ‘user engagement’ in terms of their experience of their specific project
thus

approaches to user involvement varied accordingly. Included were:

o

Consultation with stakeholders from the initial stages continued thro
ugh close and regular
ongoing user engagement at each phase of project development

o

Engaging different user groups for different stages of the project

o

Restricting users to pilot studies and related evaluation of user experience

o

Inviting user contributions f
or improvement for the next phase of the project

o

(Unsuccessful) endeavour
-

despite payment offers
-

to attract a group of (student) users
students for the duration of the project development from the design stage

o

Postponing further user engagement, after

the initial needs analysis, until much later in the
project development

o

Using different methods of user feedback e.g. interviews, focus groups, user blogs, reviews,
workshops, ongoing consultation.



Methods that attracted or sustained user engagement in
cluded:

o

Offer of honoraria for their time on the project

o

Prizes for fulfilment of pilot tasks

o

More dedicated tutor time through involvement with the project

o

Ensuring that each project phase responded to expressed user needs

o

Providing skills training as par
t of project process

3.4

Use of Web 2.0 technologies

Although the main Web 2.0 technologies that are used for the Emerge online community interface are
ELGG and Moodle, projects make use of a range of other Web 2.0 applications

in the management
and implementa
tion of their projects
. The
y selected applications to
meet specific project and/or user


Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

September

2008



4


needs, either for the management of the project, including facilitation of project team collaboration, or
designed in as part of the project for use by users. Prior to

selection
,

they reviewed and trialled
various
applications
, rejecting those that did not meet
project or user requirements.


It is noteworthy that ELGG and Moodle, the applications used for the Emerge online collaboration and
information dissemination,
were not referred to as applications of choice for work within their projects
by any of the projects interviewed in this round though some they chose to use were recommended in
information obtained via the Emerge online information resources. The main reas
ons provided for
choosing applications were that they provided preferred, additional or extra functionality.


Table 2
(pages 5


6)
provides a descriptive list of the
sixteen
Web 2.0 and related applications
referred to in the four projects
. The table in
cludes the r
easons
given for their selection and
how they
are being used in those projects. (The applications are listed in alphabetical order).


3.5

Role and value of Emerge events

“..it had a kind of social edge to it so through that I feel I am part of a
l
arger community”.


This round of interviews raised a variety of issues related to Emerge events including reasons for
attendance or non
-
attendance as well as a range of opinions related to preferences for either online or
face to face events.


As in the ea
rlier round of interviews the opportunity events provide for networking with those from
other projects or similar interests is still highly valued
,
as are the social aspects of the connectivity
during events. In addition the topics incorporated during even
ts are valued for presenting new
perspectives that help inform practice. New tools introduced or used during events also feed into
project practice.


There are contra
sting preferences for online or

face to face events. Advantages presented by the pro
-
onli
ners include:

o

Ability to attend from own/distant location

o

Possibility to dip in and out of an event in between other work demands

o

Appreciation of the inclusion of online social events

o

Online connectivity facilitates subsequent face to face communication wi
th those met online.


Arguments presented by those who prefer face to face events include:

o

Face to
face enables more information to be gathered, and more quickly, concerning
the
interests and experience of others

o

Online too remote and too difficult to rem
ember who people are without direct contact

o

Too easy not to turn up for online events.


The inclusion of the (Elluminate) web conferencing interface has also facilitated multiple ways of being
present and engaging with the material, the communication and t
he connectivity during online events.

Some of these possibilities would be considered intrusive even rude if they were to be replicated in a
face to face context. This may also create some concern to members who prefer the face to face
conventions. Exam
ples that were referred to by those in favour and those against them were
particularly the opportunity in a web conference for multiple and parallel communication channels. In
Elluminate alone there is the visual access to slides, visual access to a video

of the speaker, the
audio of the speaker and the parallel

chat
. Sharing the different communication channels between
members is one creative solution implemented by one project.


In some of the online event sessions there a
re also subgroups communicating

by means of other
applications e.g. Skype though only visible to those subgroups so not public to others in
volved in the
main online event sessions
.
By contrast some of those more
accustomed to face to face conventions
prefer to lurk. Reasons given inclu
de being
overwhelmed by the multi
-
tasking
required to participate
more fully
or feeling that
any

parallel communication
on their part
might be disrespectful to the
presenter.



Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

September

2008



5


Table 2: Web 2.0 and related applications used in projects of those interviewed

Application

Functions

How used by the project team

Project

Rationale for use

Blackboard

www.blackboard.com

Virtual learning
management system

Replaced it with Ning when discussions not
happening in Blackboard

ASEL

Replaced as too formal, institutional an
d ‘dry’.

Central Desktop


www.centraldesktop.com

Web
-
based proprietary
platform for collaborative
project management

Project document repository including tasks,
milestones, shared calendar.

ASEL

Met task demands and version control

DekiWiki

wiki.mindtou
ch.com/Deki_Wik
i

Collaborative content,
information and document
sharing and writing

Rejected and replaced by Drupal and Zoho
Writer

HeLMET

Rejected for lack of similarity to MS
-
Word
interface and functionality

Drupal

www.drupal.org

Social networking to
ol

Communication among project sub
-
groups;
provides requested confidentiality for them;
used by project team as well.


HeLMET

Facebook
-
like; provides more of required
functionality than ELGG

Elluminate

www.elluminate.com/

Web conferencing
application

Acce
ssed during Emerge online events.


Presentation.


(Led to incorporation into teaching of project
member)

Various


ARGOSI


Open Habitat

Platform for Emerge online events;

Presentations; social edge for sense of
community

Facebook

www.facebook.com

Social n
etworking and
upload and storage of
digital media

To bring groups of distance students together;
advertise to and sign up students for project
events in Second Life

Related JISC
project

Facilitates post course distance groups

Flickr

www.flickr.com

Photo,

image and video
sharing site

Project team upload screenshots of their work in
Second Life; Project provides a similar in
-
house
application for student use

Open Habitat

For direct upload of screens of work from
Second Life

Google groups

groups.google.co
m/

Online discussion and file
sharing application

Discussions; Uploading files

Open Habitat

Ease of use and availability

Ning

www.ning.com

Social networking and
upload and storage of
digital media

Student discussion forum and distribution of
audio/video f
iles. Discussions and information
sharing for project team; use as a repository,
notebook, and comment area

Blogging


project ideas among project team

For team work

ASEL

ARGOSI

&

ASEL

Has the familiarity of Facebook so students use it
more than they did

the Blackboard forums

To share ideas

Provides space for team interaction and
information storage




Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

September

2008



6


Table 2: Continued: Web 2.0 and related applications used in projects of those interviewed

Application

Functions

How used by the project team

Project

Ratio
nale for use

OpenSim

www.opensimulator.org

Open source 3
-
D virtual
environment

Used as a precursor to Second Life to introduce
codes and functions of immersive 3
-
D space.

Open
-

Habitat

Can restrict functionality so more control and
without the distractin
g complexities of Second
Life

Podcasting


Audio distribution that can
be subscribed to e.g. via
RSS

Distribution of audio formative feedback to
students and highlights of lectures to distance
students

ASEL

Project is on role of audio in teaching and
learn
ing

Project Wonderland

lg3d
-
wonderland.dev.java.net/


Sun’s Java based open
source toolkit for creating
collaborative 3D virtual
worlds

Trialing it with other similar applications
-

not
suitable for ‘building’


more corporate activities

Open
-

Habitat

T
rialing with other applications

Second Life

www.secondlife.com

Immersive 3
-
D virtual world
populated by avatars

Used for the art design student building activities
as a virtual studio

Used by philosophy students for discussion on
identity

Open Habitat

Th
e project is on the role of immersive 3
-
D
spaces in learning and teaching

Skype

www.skype.com


Online telephone
connectivity application for
one to one and group
communication with text,
voice and video functions

Project team interaction and communicati
on

ARGOSI



Open Habitat

Easy and instant access to widely dispersed
project team members

Connectivity with others of similar interests

WordPress

www.wordpress.org


Blog tool and publishing
platform

Used for the project’s public face with details on
the p
roject, team and project updates;


Delivery of parts of project game


ASEL



ARGOSI


Zoho Writer

www.zoho.com

Collaborative document
editor

Collaborative document sharing and editing

HeLMET

MS
-
Word look and feel uses existing skills;
functionality meets

user requests



Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

September

2008



7


As a result of the dichotomy of views there were varied suggestions for future events. At one extreme
there was the suggestion for more face to face opportunities with more chance for less structured
engagement
. At these members could get
to know other members
as well as to hear more about the
specifics of projects and the issues and challenges they present and how they are dealt with. At the
other
extreme
there is the suggestion of more (optional) online events of a purely social nature
. W
hile
these could have
some
specific
focus
they would be ‘
virtual coffee get
-
together
s’ in nature
. Both
extremes are potentially facilitative of strengthening a sense of community.


Preferences for online vs. face to face interfaces are inadequate explanat
ions for non attendance at
Emerge events. Attendance at events competes increasingly with the need for teams to meet project
goals and deadlines demands. This is particularly so for projects with smaller funding and fewer team
members or members with sma
ll proportions of time allocated to projects. If a project budget
allocates a team member only one day a week for the project
,

it may then not be possible to attend
even a half
-
day event, whether face to face or online. Generally there is consensus that
if there is a
choice between meeting project demands/ deadlines vs. attending an event, though it might be with
some reluctance on the part of the project member(s), the project will take precedence. Part of the
difficulty is that community engagement was

not adequately budgeted for in the project bids, if at all.


“I can't say to JISC
:

'Sorry we didn't deliver half our outputs
-

but I
DID
turn up
for an Emerge thing'”.


3.5.1

Dragon

s Den evaluation events

"Everything from the Dragons was great. We also got oth
er good stuff
from people who came around to look at what we were doing


but we
didn't get that from the online one"
.


The positive value of the Emerge Dragon

s Den pre
-
bid evaluation events was echoed by all those
who had participated in them. Despite a
lso being described as 'absolutely terrifying' and ' a bit like I
had been punched in the face for an hour ', there was agreement that these events impacted on the
experiences of researchers as well as providing practical suggestions that contributed to th
e writing of
better quality, hence successful, bids. Specific reasons given for the value of the Dragon

s Den
events included that they:


o

Gave new and established researchers access to comprehensive feedback from experts,

o

Motivated bidders to pull initi
al project ideas together before writing the bid,

o

Provided early suggestions that assisted researchers to streamline over
-
elaborate ideas

o

Gave more direct, practical and implementable suggestions than might have been gained
from listening to a general pres
entation on bidding

o

Provided referrals to existing similar projects and other researchers,

o

Contributed to researcher confidence by confirming pre
-
bid legitimacy of the project idea.


Most of the above mentioned value related to the face to face rather than

the online versions of
Dragon

s Den events. Reasons given for the added value of the face to face event included:


o

Preparation in the same physical space as other bidders enabled sharing and testing of ideas

o

Peer bidders provided critical constructive fee
dback in addition to that from Dragons (panel
members)

o

The opportunity to ensure that ideas were not duplicates of those of other bidders

o

The possibility to discover and incorporate any appropriate cross project links into the bids.

3.5.2

Emerging Mondays

At th
e time of the interviews the Emerging Monday events had only just begun but were referred to
positively in terms of their interactive nature, their diversity of presentation and as an accessible
method of distributing information and providing access to ar
eas of expertise within the community.



Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

September

2008



8


3.6

Role and value of Emerge membership

“It's useful to feel part of a larger community that isn't specific to my
institution
-

the across institutional aspect of it.”

3.6.1

Networking


Of high value are the opportunities affor
ded by the Emerge umbrella to meet other
s

with similar or
complementary interests. Some of these connections have led to further national and international
collaborations e.g. one example given was the opportunity to lead an EDUCA online symposium
followed

by a similar contribution to an online symposium in Malaysia.



For those working at a distance or in contexts where they have very specialised interests this has also
helped to reduce a sense of professional isolation. Even those who now have limited con
tact with the
wider Emerge community owing to the need to focus time and attention on the project work, make
reference to contacts facilitated by the Emerge community early on.

3.6.2

Personal/professional development

In addition to the contacts made
,
personal a
nd professional development that is credited to
membership of the
E
merge community. This includes extending and enhancing aspects of their work
as well as
one

example of having received a successful promotion attribute
d

in part directly to
experience and e
xpertise gained from Emerge membership.
In
addition to the project itself having
extended working relationships across disciplines within institutions
for that member Emerge is
proving to
be ‘a catalyst for change’.


3.7

Levels of engagement with the Emerge co
mmunity

“Because our project brought in a few new people to the community I don't know that those
who didn't come to York feel as much community members
-

they feel (project) members and
are not even very aware of Emerge”


The diverse levels of engagement

by
individual members and project groups

with the wider Emerge
community
reflects experiences of other CoPs where interaction and communication occur at different
levels according to individuals’ needs and the contextual circumstances (
Ma
cD
onald et al, 20
03:
2
)
.
The

varied regularity of contact e.g. via the Emerge online sites
,

indicates that, despite evidence of
some strong community ties, Emerge is
predominantly

a

loose
ly connected and large’..

‘constellation’
of sub
-
groups/communities (Wenger, 2001:2).

Underpinning this is that the initiation of these sub
-
groups would not have occurred without the Emerge initiative.



The continuum of the membership’s levels of engagement
include
s

at one end the more frequent and
regular bloggers on the online Emerge s
ite(s),
updating
on
project
and related
information and
activities as well as reading the blogs of other members with similar interests.
Included here are the
core Emerge management team. Some of the members have referred to this level of membership as
a
form of Emerge ‘elite’.



A further level revealed at this stage of the project work is represented by those who would
like to be
more engaged
in ongoing communication and activities with the wider community
but find the time
required is not available
owin
g to the project demands coupled with the constraints on time allocated
to project work


these constraints being largely a result of the allocated budget for project staffing.
Even further to the edge of the Emerge community are those who have joined proj
ects later
or are
part of case studies associated with the projects. While they
feel part of the project ‘community’
they
are less aware, and some hardly at all, of the
wider Emerge community.


As one moves further along this continuum of levels of engagem
ent it becomes clear that with
irregular contact with online Emerge the amount of catching up
that would then be required
on fast
moving communications and information provision become
s

so overwhelming
that this can become a

deterrent for further engageme
nt.
Wenger (2001:48) refers to this phenomenon as being in part to the
‘timelessness’ resulting from the asynchronous nature of online communities. While asynchronicity
provides for ‘anytime’ engagement there is also the sense that there is never a parti
cular time that


Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

September

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9


requires that engagement.


In addition to the individual projec
ts’

core team members there are also other interested parties with
looser links to the project through similar interests or involvement in similar projects.
Added to the
comple
xity of membership levels is that individuals often have
multiple memberships involving other
projects some with their own
communities of
practice,

all of which compete for time and attention.


The different levels of engagement are also reflected in the

multiple ways of
communicating,
collaborating and sharing information. These range from the projects that
provide scheduled, regular
updates fed through to Emerge online

to others that are just as heavily involved in
blogging and
communicating updates and

information but
are
confining this to within the project

team membership
and close associates
. The diverse Web 2.0 tools in Table 2 confirm
considerable use of
social
networking tools
but
many of which are used exclusively within the projects.


Although
there were still passing references to the Emerge online interfaces and
the distractions of
its
multiple communication channels contributing to some difficulties, the main reason given for not
making use of them


as with non
-
attendance of events

-

was li
mited time to negotiate their use with
the specifics of
project work taking priority,



While projects might acknowledge the importance and need to get to engage with one another across
projects and institutions and share knowledge and expertise, the Eme
rge C
oP

has a ‘domain of
human endeavour’
(Wenger, 2001:2)
that comprises a diverse variety of project subject areas and
approaches that may increase the challenge to find the common ground that can drive engagement.
If potential engagement increasingly c
ompetes with the need to meet project demands and deadlines
then
as the timelines progress towards completion, this might potentially strengthen the project sub
-
community
’s internal

ties without changing the nature of the looseness of the wider ‘constellat
ion’.


3.8

Expressed wishes and hopes for Emerge’s future

The wishes and hopes for the future of the Emerge community that were expressed in the interviews
were as follows:

o

A simpler more navigable online interface with more opportunities for co
-
construction
of online
links to resources.

o

More informal, face to face opportunities to benefit from the expert ‘specialisms’ and
experience of Emerge community members

o

JISC
to
continue to

incorporate the developing culture change in recognising the social
science asp
ects of technology in addition to its computer science roots

o

Bidding processes to be more aligned with the iterative user engagement model and funding
to align more with institutions’ costing models

o

Provision of more opportunities in other JISC project fun
ding to follow the more flexible model
e.g. Benefits Realisation

o

Consideration for the difficulties of ‘outlier’ projects to locate a like
-
minded cluster to join

o

Time costs of Emerge community engagement to be factored into budgeting

o

Archiving of the evid
ence of the experience and value of the Emerge CoP through forms of
preservation or publication of community artifacts, products and outputs

o

Continuation of the CoP in some form after the completion of the funded projects


3.9

M
etaphors
illustrating

aspects of

Emerge membership


The inclusion of the question to consider an (optional) metaphor of their experience of Emerge is used
as a way of obtaining a more concrete illustration of Emerge in terms of central or essential aspects
that interviewed members choose

to present. Metaphors in the earlier report focused on the aspects
of some early uncertainties, as well as the characteristics of flexibility, creativity, complexity, and high
levels of activity.




Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

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10


The creative opportunities facilitated by Emerge membershi
p are once again evident in this round of
interviews. Included is the metaphor of the aspirant singer/song writer getting the record deal, joining
the band, having the audience and becoming a rock star:


“..it is a bit like joining a band where previously
you had just been practicing your
instrument in your bedroom or whatever and writing a few songs. .. joining in the
band with a load of other people who are really good at different instruments, that
really like the way you play and like the songs that yo
u write. The funding aspect
is like getting a record contract
-

with a good label. And the pilot is a bit like your
first single which has done really well, perhaps in the top ten hits. And now it feels
like we're writing the album
-

trying to do somethi
ng a bit more sustainable and on
a larger scale at this second stage of the project. Becoming a rock star...with a
potential audience.”


The combination of a creative context, though one that may provide an overwhelming array of
conflicting choices leadin
g to frustration, is well illustrated by the metaphor based on memories of the
1997 Glastonbury festival:


“.. and I looked at the program and what was on and my heart sank, because I
realised I couldn't be in two places at once. The amount of time there
was one
artist on one stage and one on another that I both wanted to see and at the same
time…I get a sense of an enormous amount of movement and ideas shifting
around but sometimes they are in a different field
-

literally green field. It is a bit
muddy,
a lot of cool stuff happening and I can't get to it all. And I get a kind of form
of intellectual paranoia when that happens. Because I want to be and know about
all this stuff all the time and I end up getting totally exhausted. (And) there's no
single
community. There’s the hippies and the rockers…they are only a single
community in that they happen to be geographically reasonably close. (But) it does
mean that you get some great moments when you move from place to place”.

.



The experience of the inc
reasingly fast
-
paced activity and often overwhelming information
dissemination associated with Emerge is well illustrated in the metaphor that presents a snail’s
perspective:


“…a bit like a snail really
-

I was crawling along at my own pace and when I
dro
pped in to the Emerge community online I felt that the world was whizzing
past me …I could hear the birds tweeting in the trees but couldn't tell what they
were saying”.


Aspects of approach
-
avoidance intermingled with a sense of obligation as well as (rel
uctant?)
affection are foregrounded in the image of the metaphorical ‘Great Aunt Gladys’:


“She's there and you have to go and visit her every so often because you feel
obliged to
,

but when you do nothing usually happens. Then every so often
something real
ly good comes out of it. But you have to bear with it...and
sometimes you might not go for weeks and it would not matter. I mean she's just
a sweet old lady sometimes a bit.. smelly”.


Once again the diverse perceptions and experiences of Emerge membershi
p are evident in the range
of metaphors presented and it would not be feasible to expect a more uniform metaphor from the
complex constellation of interests and projects. However the intensification of the project work has
generated recurring threads of i
nformation overload and conflicting choices although the positive
value of membership and the creative possibilities that it facilitates are also still in evidence.


(
1

Available on the Emerge AI site at:
http://vle.jiscemerge.org.uk/mod/resource/view.php?
id=168
)





Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

September

2008



11



4

Recommendations


Thi
s round of interviews provided views

on
the
factors that are contributing to success within the
projects

and how the Emerge community project can support them
. Based on these and other
issues
arising from the
interviews, th
e
recommendation presented here to the Emerge management team,
are
focus
ed

on
actions that can c
ontribute further to the levels of success.


4.1

Emerge events


There is recognition of the value of Emerge events for the networking, sharing of expertise and
grow
ing a sense of community that facilitates further collaboration. This applies to face to face and
online events as well as the Dragon’s Den evaluation process. However there are indications that
different value is facilitated by online vs. face to face ev
ents with the latter providing more direct
access and more quickly in terms of networking and collaboration. Some of this is attributable to the
more informal social interaction opportunities that accompany face to face events.


Recommendation
1
:

Continu
e to
provide opportunities for networking while balancing the mix of face
to face and
online
‘unconferencing’ and social events e.g. virtual coffee bar/’bean bag’ type events
that focus on member chosen topics.

4.2

Equal opportunities for engagement in Emerge
community activities

Smaller scale projects, where team members are spread thinly across the project work demand, have
difficulty in committing time to Emerge community events and are thus often excluded.


Recommendation 2
:
Find ways to ensure

more equalit
y of opportunity to engage in Emerge
community activities to large and smaller scale projects
.

For future iterations budgeting needs to
extend to time and resources to enable team members to engage in Emerge community activities
.

4.3

Inclusion of ‘outlier’ pr
ojects

Although Emerge networking has facilitated ‘clustering’ of projects with commonalities and
similar interests, projects that consider themselves ‘outliers’ in terms of their approach or
focus work in relative isolation from the community.


Recommend
ation
3
:
Future iterations to consider further ways to include supportive monitoring and
moderation of clustering for
all

projects
.

4.4

Novel communication technologies

and harnessing emerging specialisms

Members have a range of skills with the novel communica
tion technologies that are introduced to the
community e.g. in online events. Included are some members who,
th
r
ough
limited

time
availability
rather than
lack of interest or inclination,
have
not developed the level of
confidence
or ability
with
the
nove
l
demands of (online) events and related communication technologies as others have.


Recommendation
4
:
Provide support, suggestions and/or tips to help project members cope with the
novel demands of

Emerge

events e.g. the idea of sharing out channels amon
g team project members.



Table 2 (see pages 5
-
6) indicates the range of diverse web 2.0 and related technologies used for
individual project management and implementation. Much of the information within projects is not
finding its way to the wider Emerge
community. In addition these technologies seldom mesh
seamlessly with the ELGG and Moodle technologies of Emerge requiring more time to share
information.


Recommendation
5
:
Provide guidance/tips on how to extract project information easily from the
diver
se technologies into the Emerge online space.



Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

September

2008



12


Members who have developed expertise with a range of these technologies as well as methods of
communicating about their projects from these interfaces have shareable information to assist with co
-
constructing (
new) specialisms.


Recommendation
6
:
Provide interactive mechanisms for members to share their tips and
suggestions based on their experiences with Web 2.0 technologies.


4.5

Emerge online interface, access and interactivity


As already raised in the earlier r
eport from the first round of interviews, there are requests for a
simpler, more navigable interface for Emerge online. Particular difficulties referred to:

o

Navigation complexity given the quantity of information available

o

Search functionality that does
not return required information

o

Frustration with passwords
.

The
interface design needs to accommodate different levels of engagement. This includes those who
do not access the site(s) on a regular basis
but may need quick access from time to time to
find

specific information o
r

catch up on recent or archived information
. That some aspects of project work
may require levels of privacy needs to be taken account of.


Recommendation
7
:
Ensure that any remaining Emerge online interface and access issues are
ad
dressed so that any exclusionary aspects are reduced.

4.6

Sharing success

Sections 3.2 and 3.3 provide within project implementation approaches and contributors to success
that could be of benefit to the wider Emerge community.


Recommendation
8
:
Provide spa
ce and mechanisms for projects to highlight and share their success
factors, plans and outcomes as well as experiences of user engagement.

4.7

Affirmation of ‘culture’ change

Those interviewed
welcomed

the
difference

in
ethos evident

from

their experience of E
merge projects
compared
other JISC

funded projects
. This is attributed to the
Emerge focus including inter
-
institutional collaboration
and the flexibility of extension through

benefits realisation support.


Recommendation
9
:
Communicate evidence of the fa
vourable impact of this perceived project
funding ‘culture’ change.

4.8

The post
-
project future of
JISC
Emerge

The knowledge and skills development with the accompanying information dissemination generated
by the
richly diverse
Emerge community provides a valu
able resource in the field of technology and
education.


Recommendation
10
:
Ensure design and availability of archival/dissemination resources for the
capture of Emerge project and community artifacts, products and outputs.


5

Conclusion


This report make
s a number of clear recommendations for the Emerge project team, the JISC, the
community members themselves and how they engage with the wider educational technology
community. It is noticeable that on this occasion, members from within the same project we
re more
consistent in their views of the value of the Emerge community than in the earlier interviews. Amongst
the community as a whole, those interviewed revealed
multiple levels of engagement with the wider
Emerge community.

For some there is

considerabl
e collaboration and activity within, between and
across institutions and related subgroups
.





Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

September

2008



13


Figure 1: Emerge


a constellation of diverse levels and types of engagement



It is clear that the appreciative inquiry evaluation methodology is producing stor
ies which have the
potential to inform the development of the Emerge support community. Our evaluation techniques are
producing rich metaphors and pictures which illustrate the value to individuals of the Emerge project.
Figure 1 is one way of illustrating

examples of how individuals are engaging with other Emerge
members in ways that may not be visible to the wider community, which have been surfaced by the
appreciative inquiry approach.


Our task now is ensure that the outputs from this inquiry are disse
minated in appropriate ways to
these different audiences in ways which will genuinely inform and impact upon Emerge in its final
stages.






Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

September

2008



14


6
References


MacDonald, J., Atkin W., Daugherity F., Fox, H., MacGillivray, A., Reeves
-

Lipscomb, D.,
Uthaile
rtaroon, P. (2003) Let's get more positive about the term 'lurker', CPsquare Foundations of
Communities of Practice Workshop
. [Online]:


http://cpsquare.or
g/wp
-
content/uploads/2008/07/lurkerprojectcopworkshopspring03a.doc


(
Retrieved August 2008).



Mathie, A. & Cunningham, G. (2003). From clients to citizens: Asset
-
based Community Development
as a strategy for community
-
driven development. Development in P
ractice,13(5),474
-
486. [Online]:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0961452032000125857

(Retrieved August 2008).


Wenger, E. (2001). Supporting communities of practice: A survey of community oriented te
chnologies.
[Online]: http://www.ewenger.com/tech (Retrieved August 2008).




Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

September

2008



15


Appendix 1: Invitation/recruitment email to selected Emerge project leaders


I am Patsy Clarke, part of the Emerge Appreciative Inquiry team led by Rhona Sharpe, and an
educationa
l developer with OCSLD at Oxford Brookes, tasked with the JISC funded Appreciative
Inquiry evaluation research of the Emerge Community of Practice (CoP).


As part of the process we have selected project teams from the Emerge community to be involved in
dat
a collection


including your [Name of project] team. Data collection will involve my collection of
stories from community members about their experiences of being a member of the Emerge CoP.


The expected benefits of this short period of intensive data c
ollection are

-
Involving more community members in our collective inquiry,

-
Illustrating the role of the appreciative inquiry to all community members

-
Demonstrating to funded projects the potential of their


involvement in the community through real life

examples

-
Gathering information that can help the sustainability of the community


As you are team leader I would like to request participation of your team in this stage of research.
What is required is that I’d like to conduct one
-
to
-
one telephone inte
rviews with two members of your
team


and which could include yourself if you choose. The audio recorded interviews will take
30


45
minutes each, with a question outline sent ahead of time.


The output of the interviews will include short appreciative

inquiry case studies (‘stories’) from each
interview. These will be published online and presented at Emerge online and face to face events
event in some form. Given the nature of community involvement and the appreciative inquiry nature of
the interview
s, please note that the focus will be on strengths and what is working well and that
interviewed team members and the project will be identifiable
without guarantees of anonymity

in
the case study ‘stories’ though not in any subsequent
peer reviewed
public
ations
.


We can offer your team £1000 for the participation of two team members. This is intended to cover
the costs of time spent being interviewed as well as follow up reading and checking of the interview
transcripts, reviewing the story outcomes and th
e (optional) possibility of repeating short selected
sound bites for the Appreciative Inquiry site and participating in relation to the stories at Emerge
events.


Interviews will take place at mutually agreed upon times. If you are in agreement with

your t
eam’s participation as outlined above, please send me the names and contact details of two
members who volunteer to engage with this process. I will then follow up with them directly in more
detail, including an information sheet and consent forms. If you

decide not to involve your team for
any reason please advise me so that I can make a further selection.


Let me know if you require further information concerning any aspect of this project and I look forward
to your early reply.


Kind regards


--
p@ c

Pat
sy Clarke

Educational Developer (e
-
Learning)

Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development (OCSLD)

Oxford Brookes University

Wheatley Campus

Oxford OX33 1HX, Tel: +44 (0)1865 485878



Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

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16


Appendix 2 : Information sheet and interview prompts


Information on
the Emerge CoP Appreciative Inquiry

For the JISC funded Appreciative Inquiry of the Emerge Community of Practice (CoP), your team has been
chosen as one of four to be invited to be involved in the next phase of data collection. As you are one of the two
t
eam members from your project who have subsequently volunteered to participate, it is important for you to
understand why the research is being done and what it will involve. Please take time to read the following
information before you complete and return

the attached consent form.

The expected benefits of this short period of intensive data collection are:

-

Involving more community members in the collective inquiry,

-

Illustrating the role of the appreciative inquiry to all community members

-

Demonstrating to

newly funded projects the positive potential of their involvement in the community
through real life examples

-

Informing future Emerge events and processes


I will conduct one
-
to
-
one interviews with you and a team member. Depending on your location your
audio
recorded interview is likely to be telephonic. It will take between 30 to 45 minutes and I will send you a question
outline ahead of time. I will be conducting the interview in my role as a member of the Emerge project
Appreciative Inquiry team. E
ach participating project will receive £1000 for participation of two team members.
This is to cover the costs of your time being interviewed, your follow up reading and checking of your interview
transcript and your Appreciative Inquiry story. The interv
iew will take place at a mutually agreed upon time during
July to August 2008.


Please note that, given the nature of community involvement and the appreciative inquiry nature of the
interviews, the focus will be on strengths and what is working well. You

and your project will be identifiable
without any guarantees of anonymity

in the stories but not in subsequent
peer reviewed

publications.


Your appreciative inquiry case study (‘story’) based on the interview, together with those of other project team
m
embers, will be published as part of JISC Emerge online resources as well as presented at Emerge online and
face
-
to
-
face events in various forms. Initial raw data generated in the course of this project will be encrypted and
kept secure in electronic form
at at Oxford Brookes University for a maximum of 5 years.


The stories collected during a previous round of inquiry can be accessed at the Appreciative Inquiry section of the
Emerge site entitled 'Emerging stories' at:

http://vle.jiscemerge.org.uk/course/v
iew.php?id=4 plus a report of
recommendations, 'Experiencing Emerge', based on the information gathered during that phase of interviews.


If you have further queries you may contact me, Patsy Clarke, or the AI project principal investigator, Rhona
Sharpe,

via the contact details provided below. As the research has been approved by the University Research
Ethics Committee, Oxford Brookes University, should you have any concerns about the conduct of the study you
may also contact the University Research Eth
ics Committee on
ethics@brookes.ac.uk
.


Contact details

Patsy Clarke

Educational Developer (e
-
Learning)

Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development
(OCSLD)

Oxford Brookes University, Wheatley Campus

Oxford
OX33 1HX

Email: p.clarke@brookes.ac.uk Tel: +44 (0)1865
485878


Rhona Sharpe

Senior staff and Educational Developer

Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development
(OCSLD)

Oxford Brookes University, Wheatley Campus

Oxford OX33 1HX

Email:
rsharpe@brookes.ac.uk

Te: +44 (0) 1865
485923

Thank you


Date
: June 2008



Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

September

2008



17


Appendix 3:
Emerge AI interview outline, June
-
August 2008


In the first round of Emerge Appreciative Inquiry telephone interviews late last year the foc
us was on
experiences of initially joining the Emerge community. In this round we are particularly interested to
collect examples of experiences of what is working well for the Emerge community members and the
impact this is having on their projects.


Ques
tion outline:


-

A brief outline of the team’s project focus to bring me up to date on that,

-

Examples of what you consider is working well and what contributes to success,

-

The role of user engagement in your project and examples of how you are working with t
hat,

-

Example(s) of the role of Web 2.0 technology/ies

-

Example(s) of how being a member of the Emerge community might contribute to personal
and/or professional development

-

Any impact this has on the project’s work?

-

If you have participated in any Emerge ev
ents

either online and/or offline
-

(including any
Dragons Den event) what impact have these had?

-

If you have 3 wishes to enhance any aspect of the Emerge experience what would they be?

-

Do you have a metaphor or illustration that represents your experie
nce of the project work or
of being a member of the Emerge community?

-

Any other aspects that you might like to include.


Given the Appreciative Inquiry approach, examples of features that are

considered less successful will be reframed, into the form of p
ractical and constructive suggestions
that can inform Emerge processes and future events.


Short stories from an earlier stage plus a summary report, including

recommendations, 'Experiencing Emerge', are accessible via login by Emerge members on the
Emerge

'Appreciative Inquiry' site, linked to the section 3. Emerging Stories, at
http://vle.jiscemerge.org.uk/course/view.php?id=4




Telling Tales from the Emerge Community
,

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18


Appendix 4: Consent form



CONSENT FORM


Emerge C
oP Appreciative Inquiry


Researcher:
Patsy Clarke, Educational developer, OCSLD, Oxford Brookes University, Wheatley
Campus, Oxford OX33 1HX



Please read the accompanying information sheet then after completion attach this document to an
email addressed
to p.clarke@brookes.ac.uk. Alternatively you may choose to post it.



Please mark box


I confirm that I have read and understand the information sheet for the
above study and have had the opportunity to ask questions.





I understand that my participa
tion is voluntary and that I am free to
withdraw at any time, without giving reason.




I agree to take part in the above study.






Please mark box




Yes No

:

I agree to the interview being audio recorded





I agree to the use of
the interview material including quotes in publications
and understand that the team and its members will be identifiable
.









Name of Participant




Date




Signature


P A Clarke










Name of Researcher




Date




Signa
ture