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Developing learning literacies to practice meetings more effectively

Cloud created by:

Joe Nicholls
18 January 2013

Actors (who is involved?)

Ideally, the learning opportunity will be made available to small groups or teams of people who perform similar or closely related/interdependent roles and who participate in meetings together.

For example, staff in Information Services (i.e., IT Services, Library Services and Media Services)

Hypothetical actors to convey some of the prevalent attributes and characteristics of staff.

Ruth - job role managing IT liaison team, nearing retirement, disillusioned and comfortable with status quo, busy, stressed, finds it difficult to make time, prefers conventional practices
Fred - job role face-to-face liaison with various staff in different Schools, single, young and ambitious, willing to try out new technologies and alternative ways of doing things
Sarah - job role subject librarian, works part-time, not interested in technology and has a young family, finds it challenging to balance work and family life
Tim - job role graphic designer - mid-career, familiar with technology, in demand and very busy, doesn't like meeting, thinks they're generally a waste of time
Nick - job role Manager of Engagement and Enablement, just managing to keep head above water, technically very competent, likes to keep everyone happy, sets up and participates in too many meetings

Course facilitators - Joe, Cathie, Rebecca, Janet - knowledge and expertise relating to the development of digital, information and academic literacies

Goals (why?)

  • To improve how staff make use of and participate in meetings.
  • To motivate staff to reduce the number meetings they participate in, shorten the amount of time they spend in meetings, and improve the what they get out of them.
  • To develop learning literacies in staff so that they're able to perform their work more effectively and efficiently.

Settings (where & when?)

  • It is envisaged that participants will take part in online and face-to-face learning activities primarily in work hours.
  • It is assumed that they will use their personal desktop/laptop computer to access all online tools and resources in support of the learning activities
  • Through consultation with participants arrangements will be made to meet face-to-face to engage in practical exercises and discussion

Objects (what things are involved?)

Desktop/laptop/tablet/smartphone, Connections (social technology), meeting room, presentation technologies

Actions (what happens to actors?)

  • Receives communication and invitation to participate via Connections (social technology), presented with tools, short videos, podcasts, diagrams and document - explanation of what is expected them and why, instructions on what to do and how to participate.
  • Explanation given of how the online learning activities prepare for the face-to-face activities

Events (what do actors do?)

Participants respond to invitation and actions by contributing to discussion and adding resources, holding face-to-face and online discussions with other colleagues participating, engages in preparation for face-to-face activities

Results (what is achieved?)

  • Increased understanding of the nature of meetings and what is required of people in order for them to be effective and efficient.
  • Better appreciation of issues associated with current practices that impinge on meetings.
  • Experience of working with content and technologies that improve how meetings are run.
  • Experience of participating in new forms of face-to-face meeting that are more focused and effective.

Your design: (what role does your design play?)

The design will present a range of resources, tools, expertise and activities tailored to help participants reflect on their current practices related to meetings; roles, responsibilities and expectations of people involved in meetings; what and why particular resources and tools are used in meetings.

Participants will be presented with a number of scenarios illustrating alternative ways of preparing for, managing, and participating in meetings exploring how alternative technologies, forms of content (data/information) could be used, and adjustments to roles and responsibilities.

2) Develop a narrative scenario/s (in whatever form you prefer).

Designers, producers and facilitators work online in a social media environment to engage, communicate and work with staff to develop relevant knowledge and skills to enable participants to enhance their meeting related practices.

An online broadcast invitation will invite professional services staff to take up a learning opportunity to help them improve their use of and participation in business style meetings. In this message links will be provided to an introduction and overview of the course - along with details of the nature of the activities, scheduling, expectations and approximate amounts of time/effort required.

The invitation will encourage teams/groups/committees who regularly hold meetings together to sign up collectively [this will most likely be critical for a successful outcome] - although individual participants will likely get something from the experience, there is a better chance of changing practice and developing knowledge and skills that can be sustained if there is mutual dependence and expectation on the part of a group of participants.

Participates will be asked to identify an established and regular face-to-face meeting they would be willing to use as a testbed for developing new practices - and where necessary to obtain approval/support from line management - in the form of dedicated work time to participate. In this context it is essential that the people associated with the role of convenor/chair/secretary/facilitator are included as these are critical enabling roles.

Content will explain the rationale for focusing on meetings as a way of developing effective learning literacies and enhancing practice.

The online activities will be structured and paced to allow flexible engagement prior to a face-to-face session, and subsequently.

Content will be provided through video, narrated presentations, discussion lists - using a social media environment.

Participants will be presented with resources and activities to help them develop necessary knowledge and skills to perform a variety of meeting related tasks, e.g., arranging and planning for a meeting, contributing to a meeting, chairing a meeting, making an appropriate record of a meeting, following up from a meeting, producing and working with different kinds of documents, etc.

The online resources and activities will focus on specific tasks and practices and use this context to introduce new technologies and alternative ways of working with data/information. Participants will be given the opportunity to use a variety of freely available tools, work with documents and media commonly used in meetings, and develop interpersonal and communication skills to enable them to contribute more fully in meetings. Participants will be asked to assess their potential relevance and value for shifting practice in relation to their chosen real-world meeting.

They will be presented with discussion topics and activities that encourage them to reflect on and review current practice in relation to different aspects of meetings.

Having progressed through a number of commonly performed tasks, participants will discuss amongst themselves and with facilitators to agree what aspects of their meeting they will seek to change and what steps will be taken and when. This will be used to inform the design and facilitation of the face-to-face session(s) -which ideally would take place in the context of a real meeting. This would be used to try out with support the new ways of working.

Following the face-to-face session, participants will be encouraged to reflect on and review their practice - and any modifications or alternative approaches identified will form the basis of subsequent learning activities.

The activity will close when the group are satisfied with their new way of using and running meetings.

[The question is, to what extent could this approach would work for other kinds of tasks/practices, such as presenting, writing, project management, forms of media production, etc.?]

3) Scrutinise your scenarios.

What claims are you making for your designs, about context, people, etc? Do they hold up?

I’m claiming:

  • participants will recognise the benefit and value of improving their use of, and participation in, business style meetings
  • participants will be interested and motivated to develop appropriate knowledge and skills necessary to adopt new meeting related practices
  • participants will be able to make the time and effort to contribute fully (possibly get endorsement and support of line managers and run in work time)
  • this can be achieved through a combination of online and face-to-face participation
  • the approach will be versatile enough to accommodate and work with the practices of any group of professional services staff grow
  • the approach will promote real changes to what is practiced
  • it will have the backing and support of senior management and they will support and encourage change in practice

This is all hypothetical but I do have some experience designing and running a learning activity intended to help professional services staff make use of web technologies to improve meetings. See: A presentation I gave at a UCISA meeting a while ago on 'Using Social Media for Training - Developing Digital Literacy through social media: trainer and trainee perspectives - The narrated version is on Vimeo and the Prezi here -

Extra content

Embedded Content


Mélanie Bennett
3:42pm 20 January 2013

This is the first scenario I have read.  I have found it a very good model and very helpful.  Thank you and good luck.

Joe Nicholls
4:13pm 20 January 2013

Mélanie - thank you very much for your feedback and encouragement. Much appreciated :-) Joe

Clare Gormley
9:27pm 22 January 2013

Hi Joe,

I have also found your scenario to be very helpful. I need to think further about the claims I am making for my design and some of yours resonate with me. It seems to me that so much of what we do as designers depends on peoples attitudes and openness to change. (ie even with the best design in the world, if people don't see the benefit/value of it for them, it's not going to work), Thanks for helping me get started with thinking about that! Clare

Bronwyn Hegarty
8:55am 24 January 2013

Thanks Joe for sharing your ideas. I am sort of clutching at any assistance in this activity I can get as I was not sure where to start.I have added the following to the discussion as well.

...It sounds like you are working through some ideas to make the learning literacy development of staff realistic and situated in their context. In the scenarios, are you considering getting them to engage in role plays to practise the skills that they are learning, and reflect on them. They could record the role play session, e.g., video or audio using tools to hand such as e or ipad, smart phone, digital camera and upload the output to a media sharing site. With some prompting questions you could get them to reflect not only on their own performance but also on that of their peers.

If you wanted to venture into a virtual world, the scenarios you propose could be practised by the participants' avatars inworld. Just a few ideas. Your scenario description has given me some ideas for supporting staff to develop their understanding about learning design and assessment. What are your thoughts about role plays?
regards Bronwyn

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