Saturday, December 4, 2010

Reflections and Recollections on our Mini-conference event.

I’ve been delayed in writing up an evaluation of our Facilitating Online 2010 Mini-conference event.  Now that the pressure of each week's tasks is off and the Christmas is getting closer, it's been hard to prioritise getting back to this blog to finish the last assignment of the course.

I teamed up with Jillian Clarke  to organise a mini-conference event.

Jillian lives in my region, works for the same organisation and has a work interest in communities of practice like me, it was a natural step to link up and collaborate with our mini-conference event. During the FO2010 course, we had several really interested conversations and exchanges, and in these the germ of the idea for our mini-conference was found.
The title of our event  was Driving Change: Introducing a virtual education and training portal into a large government organisation - the opportunities and challenges.

What went well, and what did not go so well.
Overall I think the event went pretty well. It was generally very professionally organised and most importantly it worked as an engaging learning opportunity. We mastered the technology and kept the gremlins at bay. We demonstrated to ourselves that we can work in a team to organise and facilitate an online learning event.  We have come out of this FO2010 course feeling confident in our abilities and with the host of new skills and knowledge to apply this in our work in the future.

Organising and facilitating the event as a duo was a more meaningful learning experience for me because this how I want to organise events in my work. 
Given the need to have a backup plan for everything, I can see real advantages of organising online events in my organisational context in a duo, just in case a server goes down at one site or a person is sick. After all the effort of setting up a synchronistic event, managing the risk that a sole presenter could be sick or have ITC issue, seems like a good practice.

How the event was organised and promoted
Jillian and myself had a lot of delay agreeing on the title and the description for the event. This harmed our efforts to promote the event. 

In organising the event we used Google Docs  and Skype to record our collaborative decisions and share ideas both synchronistically and a synchronistically.

We used the word processor in oogle Docs to make up a table listing responsibilities in sequential order and allocated who was primarily responsible and who was the back-up, and when the task was completed.

Jillian had some unexplained problems with using Google Docs and this slowed down our work.

We had a very useful practice session with our presenter Kayleen Gordon in Elluminate web conferencing platform on the Sunday before the session. This was essential for sorting out some problems that would have otherwise crippled the session.

For both Jillian and myself, both work and homelife combined to make the week leading upto tour mini-conferencing event a week form hell. This impacted on our ability to get on top of our event. Giving adequate attention to the event publicity, was a problem. So it goes. We could have done this better.

When the event started, I could see that of the group attending our event, most were familiar through FO2010  that all but one of the attendants were familiar with the Elluminate environment. Jillian had helped a newby colleague of hers, and provided one on one guidance to her before and during the during the session to nurture her in the use of the Elluminate web conferencing tool.

I think the  topic was relevant to the course and will help courses participants and ourselves put our newly skills and knowledge into practice, whatever their sector or organisation.
I was pleased we attracted seven punters to our event. We were limited in the times that we could organise the event for a range of reasons, and our choice of time, may have limited some attending the event live. So it goes.

We promoted our event with Twitter using the #FO2010 hashtag and via the Facilitating online Google email list group. These linked back to info in the course’s wiki. It was also promoted on Jillian's blog. I did not repeat the publicity on my blog as this seemed excessive.  
On the day, the event went very smoothly so we did not have any unchosen disruptions. I was keen to make the event interactive, so with the agreement of the presenter I encouraged participants to use the chat to ask questions and make comments. I think this worked well. We had a very good discussion at the end.

We made a minimal number of introductions at the start of the session as this saved time.  This seemed appropriate given all but one of the participants had been interacting extensively though the life of the course.

I was pleased with my summary I gave at the end of the session. I  used a mind map to make notes of the presentation. I managed to cover the presentation by Kayleen Gordon and many of the themes in the discussion and question session a the end. Our timing was good. We ran to time and I think we discussed the topic for correct amount of time-not to short and not to long. 

Many issues and learnings came up in the discussion session because of the the sharing of the participants. I at one stage, stepped out of my facilitator's role and gave a comment based on my own perspective. However, I made it clear that , this was what I was doing and then stepped backed into the facilitator role.

The discussion went off the set topic of "opportunities and challengesbut I felt really comfortable about this. I think we adapted to the learning needs and interests of the session's participants. 

We kept to time and a had a good ending.

We had some good feedback on our event which we asked people top post on Jillian's Blog

We only got a few comments but we value them highly. The feedback comments above have informed some of this reflection.

My follow-up of the event has been pretty weak again because of work and home issues. The arrival of new baby in my extended family has been a priority. 

There was a mix up in the url link to the recording of the session and no one noticed this for several weeks until I came to listen to the session in preparation for writing this.
In the future as I try to introduce web based conferencing into my workplace,  I'm going to need to put a lot more effort into:

  • Guiding and supporting people with the ITC.
  • More effort in marketing and getting a large attendance.
  • More effort in introductions in order to create relationships. 
  • More effort in evaluation.

 I going to follow some advice Tweeted  from Gov 2.0 expert Craig Tomler, which was to "Think Big, Start Small and Fail fast." It makes sense.

My main gaol is to consolidate my skills and learnings from Facilitating Online 2010 course lead by Sarah Stewart and to explore using the new Web 2,0 tools to find better ways of promoting heath.

In concluding, I would like to say that I found this the whole Facilitating Online 2010 course a kick ass learning experience. Thanks to everyone who shared and asked questions throughout this course.

I would particularly like to thank Jillian Clarke my co-facilitator at this mini-conference event and Kayleen Gordon, our most capable presenter.

I also would like to thank Claire Thompson with whom I co-facilitated one of the earlier course sessions.  It didn't go as well as this mini-conference event but it worked OK.  I sure learnt at lot with Claire.
If you want to watch the recording of our mini-conference event the correct link can be found here

Monday, September 27, 2010

Why am I so pessimistic about cultural competence in an online world.

I've been putting off writing this.

I'm usually pretty positive we can make the world a better place. Hey look at at title of this blog Brighter Futures.

About culturally competent online facilitation on a global scale, I'm feeling pretty pessimistic.

I think there are many, many difficulties.

When you go to live in new country you are immersed in a new culture. If you study or work in that new culture you learn the language and how things are done, you learn about the world view of the new culture. You also learn about your own culture.

You learn that that you have norms, expectations, values and assumptions that you had no idea that other cultures don't share.

You can come to understand this, and go meta on this because you are embedded in the new culture and you are an outsider. You also change the culture you are embedded in because you relate to people you encounter and form ongoing trusting relationships. You have to share you thoughts about with others in the form of models.

You say in effect, "Am I getting this right? In this culture when you say this and do that, you don't mean what we mean in my culture you mean something like this?"

The German poet Novalis (1772-1801) who first combined the following words said it well. "The strange becomes familiar and the familiar becomes strange".

Because you are embedded in a strange environment you come to see your assumptions and thoughtless biases and your habitual heuristics.

But when you stay home and interact across the world over the internet, you stay embedded in your environment and the members of your online community are embedded in theirs.

There are less chances to see the familiar as strange. We carry on and with our invisible assumptions. If we have more power than those we facilitate, they try to fit in as best they can.

We carry on in our culturally insensitive ways, blind to what were doing.

If our cultural biases were ever pointed out to us, we might be horrified or even hostile, possibly dismissive.

I'm not sure my pessimism about cultural competence is correct.

Am I justified in thinking this?

I wonder if anyone has researched this.

I found this article New Directions in Research into Learning Cultures in Online Education by Robin Goodfellow on Google that seems worth a read.

This posting was inspired by my fellow FO2100 students but Matt Blackstock's blog post on this topic, Cultural Competence in the Online Facilitation Environment "

In this post he writes "Be aware of your own assumptions"

I guess my thinking is that this is easier said than done.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Knowledge brokering in the Web 2.0 era

I was recently asked to fill out an evaluation of AusPAnet to fill in a surveymonkey survey.

I would describe AusPAnet as knowledge brokers or evidence brokers. I also would describe myself as a knowledge broker/evidence broker.

Since encountering Web 2.0 concepts, I’ve been rethinking my assumptions about the best methods to advance my evidence brokering work in mental health promotion.

Before going on I need to own up. The following criticism of AusPAnet knowledge brokering strategies is also criticism of my own past efforts at knowledge brokering.

AusPAnet on their very basic website is says “AusPAnet is targeted to building knowledge and capacity in the physical activity workforce.”

Their main activity is a regular e-bulletin. It contains links to with short summaries, teasers about events, new journals articles and reports.

Internet technology has moved on and broadcast Web 1.0 e-bulletins are fast becoming outdated. Readers expectations are also changing. People are using less email and devoting more time to interactive social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

I and others want more interaction and discussion and opportunities for online professional conversations. Look how Facebook traffic has increased while email is dropping.

I don’t just want information gathered, selected, sorted and shoved at me. I want to talk about the ideas and contribute and discuss the ideas and information that I and other have found that we have found significant. I want to do this because it helps me integrate the new knowledge into my practice. It helps me learn.

Old One Way sign

By mobilene FLICKR Jim Grey

While it is useful to get a regular e-bulletin with lots of good stuff, a one-way e-bulletin does not engender dialogue about the ideas contained within.

To get evidence and ideas into practice it takes more than telling people about the research/ideas and data. There are many practical issues to be worked through to get a new idea into action. There are barriers to overcome, facilitators to mobilize, lots of practical details and contextual factors to understand and access. There is also the task of integrating the new knowledge into existing understandings and practice. This is a social process.

Online discussion supplemented by occasional face to face gathering help do this. The community of practice idea is a very useful strategy for discussing new ideas and to consider the implication of evidence for practice.

The essential point that I’m making is that in order to assimilate new ideas and take those ideas to the stage where they can be actioned locally, a social process of learning and the making meaning shared needs to happen and that social media toll can help. The logical conclusion of this is that successful knowledge brokers will in future being spending more of there time facilitating online learning communities.

While knowledge brokers will still devote their time to gathering, selecting, sorting and sharing evidence this will be a far more social process.

Web 2.0 tools offer no cost and low cost tools for doing this work. Web 2.0 tools such Facebook groups, Twitter, Ning, Linkedin, Skype, Youtube blogs and online events such webinars, Tweetups, video conferences can help with this.

I’m yet to really adequately explore social book-marking tools such as Delicious as an evidence brokering tool. My organization uses an old version of Internet Explorer that does not properly interface with some Web 2.0 tools. I patiently await its update but eagerly explore these new ways of thinking.

Do you think I'm being foolish to embrace these changers?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Twitter Conversations

I was in my first twitter sustained conversation this week. The hashtag keeping it altogether was #nzaot10. I think it was a international conference of OTs (Occupational Therapists.)

I was following it out of curiosity when the conversation turned to some mental health related topics, that I'm quite interested in.

So I contributed my ideas from my position as an mental health promotion expert.

It was an interesting professional conversation because I don't often get to dialogue to academic inclined OTs.

Some of my Tweets were retweeted by key participants and that encouraged me to participate more. Further, a few questions were directed at me.

In the next few days, my Twitter account 'lewismal' picked up a handful of new Twitter followers who are OTs in different parts of the world.

I'm not sure what that will mean for them or me. I do sense the value from this Twitter interaction of having conversations with people who think differently about topics I work on from my peers.

I look forward to what comes my was from them by way of ideas, news or questions that disrupt my professional assumptions.

I wonder what would happen in my home town of Toowoomba ( to our already strong community networks and to our fairly weak local media if local tweeters started using a #Twba hashtag.

Does anyone have any predictions?
Does anyone know of a town/small city that has adopted a hashtag based on its name? What happens to community spirit?

I should Twitter out those questions.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The implication of people of like minds and purpose tending to cluster in a Web 2.0 age

There are implications of the observation that people of like mind and purpose tend to come together and form networks.

For me the big implications for project/campaign work in health promotion is in what this means for strategy.

I have found that if you can make a few strong links with keen people, these initial contacts will guide you or take your message onto others of similar mind an d purpose who will be likely be interested in what your saying or trying to achieve.

This has always been the case but this dynamic has been amplified by Web 2.0 and social network media.

Margaret Mead's famous quote, "Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

The power of a few has been upped by Web 2.0 and social network media.

Before social media, if we had the money, we used mass media to get the word out to the multitudes in the hope that we would link up with the few who were ready to interested. This was relatively effective compared to other choices. Hence so much advertising and mass media.

New social network media tools and the networks they have created and supercharged are now relatively more effective than mass media.

I realised this reading Craig Thomler's blog. He recently gave a presentation on Social Media in Government. Watching the video of his talk really lifted my thinking to this conclusion. The shock of this realisation also got me going through some old notes about ideas I encountered a few years back from R. Craig Lefebvre.

The increasing influence and effectiveness of social media will reinvent the way that health promotion works. The tried and true methods of based on the linear Source -- Message -- Channel -- Receiver (SMCR) process is becoming outdated.

Craig Lefebvre work seems to point to newer paradigms. His paper The New Technology: The Consumer as Participant Rather Than Target Audience is a good read. Wriiten back 2007, it was a harbinger towards Health Promotion 2.0.

His blog post Social Models for Marketing: Social Networks from Oct 2009 is also a recommended read.

Craig Lefebvre has a flock of writing on social media that are interest to anyone who wants to use social media in social advocacy or health promotion on his blog under the tag social media. I'm working through and reworking my way through them and their hyperlinks.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Skype as a collaboration tool

This video sets out my thinking on Skype as a collaboration tool.

It is also an trial of video blogging.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A strong example of health promotion using e-learning.

Found this slideshare from Cathy Moore which I find to be a strong example of health promotion using e-learning on Mattybees main blog .

I'm looking for more exampes of peopel doing amazing scalable Health Promotion 2.0

It has strong links with our FO2010 e-session week starting .

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What is online facilitation?

We were asked to summarise your learning so far in our blog.

This a bit late. I’ve had a hard time getting to this task with kids parties and political parties in our general election. We had a great result for my team, The Greens.

The most important learning for me so far has been that I have a clearer idea of what I need to learn and how to go about that learning.

What is online facilitation?

I’ve been into facilitation for a long time. I wrote a book back the early 1990s that had chapter on facilitation of meetings. Well before that I was doing workshops on meeting skills built around facilitation. I was also doing workshops on concepts of networking and net weaving way back in 1988.

My very first experiences of virtual facilitation was using a “bridge” to hold a teleconferences back in 1985 with people who where interested in forming a national Greens party. This was well before telephone companies offered this service. You needed to go to someone who had an expensive hi-tech device called a “bridge” that linked all the individual calls together.. We were lucky that a technology steward at one of the local universities pointed us towards this technology. I remember the bills for a hook up in of people in six capital cities were comparable to one airfare to Sydney from Brisbane.

Now going on teleconference is often a mundane experience. One to be endured. But I do recall the feelings of the new teleconference bridge. I recall the thrill of the new possibilities from a new technology. I feel that thrill about the Web 2.0 again.

I first started online facilitation in the early days of email. I participated and played a leading role in a swarm of public and a private email groups that debated the best way to form a national Greens Party in Australia.

We joke we got a black belt in cat herding from what we learned from that process.

Curiously, I have not used a lot of online facilitation skills, other than in teleconferences since I started working for Queensland Health.

So I guess I’ve done a lot of online facilitation and found and developed theories and concepts to help myself along.

I seem to have a wider conception of what online facilitation is than most in this course. Also seem to I want to put online facilitation of communities to a wider and more ambitious range of uses than most.

Some of my learning I will use in my professional life and others in my activist and volunteer in NGOs life.

Some of the things that I’m exploring with online facilitation include:

* Promoting social connection (social capital) between people in a geographical community
* Improving community governance and create more effective and responsive services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other newly emerged ethnic communities.
* A self help online community for carers and people experiencing chronic illness.
* Communities of Practice.
* Organising F2F events with social media for families of small children.
* Online advocacy campaigns using viral methods.
* Selling health promotions products, ideas or marketing health related behaviour change.
* Use of social media in planning, consultation and even research.
* Using social media o project development and management.

What skills do you need as an online facilitator?
You need a wide range of skills.
* Generic facilitation skills
* Keep learning
* Play.
* Adapt previous skill and knowledge.
* Understand the tools and help others with them
* Barriers facilitators and risks.
* The ability to plan an coherent session.

My mindmap set out long list of related skill that come in handy in online facilitation.

How does a facilitator build an online community or network?

You need to have suitable purpose/problem in mind. Online tools need to be appropriate to this.

You need to pick the right online tools for the purpose and context. This might mean not using the best but the best fit with the community.

You need enough people for the online community to reach a critical mass. There is no magic number but you do need readiness to use the online tools and to work on the focus problem. You will need a core group of champions.

You will need to be persistence and responsive. You need to Do it and keep doing it. If you strategies need to change, Recognise they need to change.

You need ask questions and listen. Social media is about two communication. Prepared to invest time and effort in doing this.

* You need to acknowledge people for their contribution.
* You need to keep people on topic. The topic might take its own course but as facilitator you need to wisely influence the process so that it get the results that are wanted/needed. (Needed by whom? Wanted by whom?)
* You need to summarise previous discussions and decisions and test for agreement about the main points to at least allow others to give their versions..
* You need to establish social norms via rules and customs and you need to police them. Light policing is probably better than nuclear options.
* You need to model a respectful tone and the norms and skills people need to participate in an effective online community..
* It helps to throw in interesting things into an online discussion and ask for comment.
* You need to be interactive not a broadcaster.
* It is important to use the old publicity skills. Call people, send emails ect, put up posters. What does it take to let people know and to get them interested?

What are the key things to remember when facilitating an event, meeting or education course, especially when working with people who are new to online technology?

* Remember and be prepared it can all turn to Custard.
* Attempt to understand the risks.
* Use the facilitators to over the barriers.
* Explain and help people over the barriers. Screenr is a good tool for this.
* It takes practice to master the tools.
* F2F skills and know need to be modified.

What is the difference between teaching and facilitation?
Teaching and facilitation are just words- contested words.

There is a lot ferment and research and theorising about what good educational practice means in a new online world.

Online tools create new pedagogical possibilities. Teaching is not what it was when I studies teaching at the ends of 1970s.

It is more participatory and learning is co-constructed, and situated. Learning is also becoming more flexible.

I feel it’s a case of change or become irrelevant. Consumer expectations have changed and we need to adapt our methods. The teacher as the expert has been undermined by move to technology. Learning has become more interactive, more responsive, and punters have many more choices.

Learners have needs and are demanding new methods. Web 2.0 has precipitated a powershift between teachers/schools and the consumers of their services.

I really enjoyed this wiki on new understanding about e-learning:

What is netiquette?

Netiquette is etiquette in the online world.

Like F2F etiquette, netiquette is a constant flux and is culturally constructed.

Netiquette has the same purpose as F2F etiquette. It si about putting people
at ease. When people are at ease they can learn and perform better. They can also enjoy more.

Netiquette like etiquette consists of rules and customs and social norms so people can cooperate achieve social goods they value.

Netiquette also arrises out the technical issues surrounding online tools.

One of the reasons you don’t hit reply all button to some emails is that it can bring down the email system.

Poor netiquette can waste peoples time, and hog shared resources. Sending big files as attachments can clog up someone system.

There is also tendency to be crueller online than people are face to face. I think this might be related to the perceived lack of consequences There is a greater social distance and reduced empathy.

The lack of social cues can mean people take offence when none was intended.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Online facilitation as Building Social Capital

Social capital is a emerging concept. There are various definitions and understandings and no agreement as to what it is, how to measure it and how to change it. It seems to really important for health and many other social outcomes such a educational and social order outcomes but some troubling questions remain.

Social capital is not an easy idea to explain as it could be a course in and of itself. It is the subject of many Phds already.

Because of all this, it not clear what is the best way to improve social capital for those individuals and communities who have low social capital.

In short some people live in communities with rich social connections and a high degree of trust and social order. Such people and communities tend to get on and do well. They tend to be happy and healthy.

In communities with the opposite, people struggle and you have higher rates of illness, school failure and other nasty social problems such as crime.

But is all this causative or a just an association?

What caused what?

After all you don't have to go to uni to know that the wealthy healthy people move to the good neighbourhoods and the poor and sick get to live in the crappy parts of town in the crappy houses.

Also you can debate if social capital is something individuals have or something only communities have?

And can you build social capital from low to high and improve outcomes of concern?

Or to improve social capital do we need to reduce things like crime, improve wealth(financial capital) and education (Human capital), Health (Human capital) to improve social capital and if this is the case is there much point to the concept of social capital.

Social capital could be a trendy new term to talk about social issues without talking about tuff issues such as human rights, discrimination or economic inequality. Such tuff topics can question our own privilege and leave our own self serving bias untroubled.

Anyway we know that when people have social connections that feel good, tend to be healthier, engage in healthy behaviors, and they feel they can solve problems and give it a go and they can use their social connections to help them solve problems. Pretty significant stuff. Apple pie.

Similarly we know that if there is social order, people feel safe. They can feel in control and they can take risks. You can benefit from this risk taking. Even if you fail, social capital can buffer you from any lasting harm.

You also need to feel safe in order for the brain to be able to work effectively. Learning requires a trust and a feeling safety.

Feeling safe is related to people's perceptions, their experience and to norms and rules of a community.

We know some people have connections with many similar people (People who only have relationships with people of a similar background, eg same ethnic group, same education or age backgrounds).

This is called bonding social capital. This can be quite harmful or helpful depending on the dynamics. (I know I said that above that social capital was apple pie.)

Others have what is termed bridging social capital, links with dissimilar people. This is really useful for solving problems.

Think of a learning group when everyone has the same background vs a diverse group. People might be a little out of their comfort zone but the learning can be much more dynamic and deep.

The Nazi party made lots of bonding social capital for their in groups and excluded others. The Nazi were not big on bridging social capital, particularly across ethnic groups.

Ultimately the Nazi's lost the war as their social capital fell apart.

I hope you can see how building and shaping the dynamics of social capital is a core role of online facilitators.

When a leader in group can facilitate ways in which the group can can make collective decisions, the group can become alive. It has control and whole new dynamic emerge. The capacity of groups to engage in self governance is also a part of what makes up high social capital.

All questions welcome?

Google scholar throws up the main theories and key pubs very well.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Risks, Barriers, Facilitators & the way forward to Online Communities

This is a Mindmap that I made up reflecting my understanding of some the Risks, Barriers, Facilitators that I might be facing.

It also Mindmaps other considerations such a return on investment (ROI), project management and adapting a host of F2F skills to the new online world we find ourselves in.

You might need to save the image and open on image software on your computer to view all the detail.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Using Online Networks to promote social connectedness

In my work in health promotion, I am concerned about social isolation.

Other buzz words include social capital, social inclusion, social connectedness, and loneliness.

Every now and again one sees something that really underscores how much we can underestimate something we know is critically important.

Have a look at this new reserch. This table and this meta analysis on health impact of social isolation really was a surprise to me in the scale of the positive impacts.

A Scientific America magazine article on the research is also available.

In short, good interpersonal social networks are more crucial to physical health than exercising or a low BMI . Same goes for much of the other health messages out there. The table shows that social relationships are more influencial than smoking more than 15 cigerettes per day or drug treatment for hypertension.

To quote, "These findings indicate that the influence of social relationships on the risk of death are comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality such as smoking and alcohol consumption and exceed the influence of other risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity. "

The conclusion to me- in your work, being teaching or health care, or any other- Take account of social connection-it matters. Build social capital.

As for what I hope to learn out this F0201o, I wonder everyday, "How can we use tools like Facebook, Twitter and Ning to promote healthy social connections?"

I have found useful background on loneliness at the UKs Mental Health Foundation.

I'm worried about internet addiction, links between use of the internet and depression.

I'm excited by newer social networking tools such a Facebook.

Ideas and leads welcome?

I’d value a good question if you don’t have part of the answer.

And look after your social connections while doing this course.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Stocktaking my relationships

Yesterday, stimulated by this FO2010 course, I did my first professional relationships stock-take.

I’ve been based in Toowoomba for 5 years and been working in mental health promotion for over 13 years.

I’m also fairly introverted. I’m predisposed towards quality relationships over quantity of relationships.

Anyway, I seem to have around quality 200 professional relationships with people out there in human services and the education sector that are relevant to my current work directions.

By this term, I think they know my name, value me because my reputation and they would give freely of their time and resources to help me and my projects.

As I’m teaching my kids say: “I’m a lucky duck”.

The task before me is better link with these people via social media. To do this I'm having a good hard think about our relationships and F2F and e-connections.

Our Online Personal Brands and Reputations Undepine Our Success

Thanks to the fellow adventurers in learning doing F02010 for the discussion on the various blogs and twitter about branding and online identities.

Reflecting on what branding means for my work in health, I have been stimulated me to write this blog entry.

I think we all have a personal brand-whatever work we do-be it for profit or on not for profit. We all have reputations. I have a reputation. I hope my reputation is a good one.

The people like the people we work with think that some people are:

  • useful to know,

  • a conflict manager,

  • a problem solver,

  • concerned,

  • creative,

  • culturally sensitive,

  • determined,

  • genuine,

  • a good communicators,

  • helpful,

  • honest,

  • innovative,

  • insightful,

  • inspiring,

  • motivated,

  • reliable,

  • respectful,

  • up to date

  • and working on projects that are deserving of support.

The list goes on. You could make your own version of list for our profession.

If people thought that the three quarters of the above about a person concerned with health promotion, that person would have a lot of advantages in their work. They would are much more likely to be successful over the long run because people would want to help them and work with them.

They would recommend to others that it was worthwhile working with this this person.

People also think the opposite of this type of list about other people's reputations.

They think people might be:

  • a waste of time,

  • a conflict avoider,

  • a problem avoider,

  • unconcerned,

  • dull,

  • culturally insensitive,

  • wishy washy,

  • fake,

  • a poor communicator,

  • unhelpful,

  • untrustworthy,

  • a laggard,

  • lacking understanding,

  • unimaginative,

  • a time server,

  • unreliable,

  • insensitive,

  • out of date,

  • and only in it for themselves

People with such reputations would be much less likely to be successful over the long run because people would not go out of their way to help them and nor choose to work with them. They would issue warning about such people, not endorsements.

People think many other good and bad things about reputations, some is based on what is true and some of misunderstanding. Some is based on hurtful gossip. Some may even be based upon mistaken identity. (Have you seen how many people called Malcolm Lewis are out there on Google, Facebook, ect ect.?)

If you have a good reputation you get call backs, invitations, doors opened, help, people's time, the ‘heads up’. You get all sort of help and goodwill.

All this may make a big difference to whether you achieve you goals and realize your mission.

Valued relationships can be used by a person to create changes they choose and desire.

It seems that social media amplifies our reputations- good and bad. Social media and the internet more broadly can also bring up our past in ways that are problematic and sometimes in ways that are wonderful.

I’ve realized that if my work generates a bigger online presence then I need to be better able to manage these ups and downs.

Also I have realized that people don’t always understand that people change over long period of time. People don’t always understand that we are all do dumb things when teenagers. People don’t always understand the back story or the context of some fragment of information. We need to be careful arriving at judgements.

Social media also blurs the distinction between our personal lives and our professional lives. I read again and again with social media, there is need be authentic. Blogger Mike Volpe, cloundsouced the wisdom about online authenicity at his blog

The LA Times Social Media Guidelines advise, "Assume that your professional life and your personal life will merge online regardless of your care in separating them."

As we move more of our private, community and professional interactions online and use social media more, Can we can all expect this merger to occur?

We all know from experience that being authentic matters in our face to face work. Authenticity is how we build rapport and ultimately relationships.

We also have stories about ourselves and lives and our pasts.

Seems that people can now check back among long lost digital footprints to see if those stories gel. Beware the bull artists (Polite Version of Australian slag for liars.)

Seems in this new digital age and every changing economy, we all need to think about our personal brands and have strategies to manage them, particularly our online tracks and our privacy settings.

So try to do good, be ambitious but don’t over promise, be honest and when we make mistakes - deal with them, learn from them but don't try to cover them up. Fix them up if you can and move on. Say sorry. Make amends if possible.

We also need to be careful about how we handle the reputations of others. Seems we do this a bit to particularly on Facebook.

And somehow e-portfolios of our work and study fit in with all of this?

That is my current understanding/confusion about all of this?

What do others think?

Am I on a good track or heading off the rails?

What is a good brand in your field?

How does an e-portfolio fit with this?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

So many choices: What are the tangible steps

So many choices as to me learning needs and goals.

I might want to choose to develop the capacity to:

  1. Cloudsource ideas and improvements to health promotion resources that I have been involved in developing such as The Connecting with Kids cards, SEEDS (Social and Emotional Early Development Strategy) and the Healthy Bodies Health Minds comprehensive framework.

  2. Run a Community of Practice around using these resources/programs/approaches.

  3. Using wikis to get comment on project plans and grant submissions and to register community. support for grant ideas. I think Google docs might be the tool for this.

  4. Weaving together Youtube and Facebook, blogging and my email contacts to explain the strategic directions in my mental health promotion work and to engage people in a conversations about how we could work together in pursuit of common goals.

  5. Organizing launches of health promotion resources/programs and do online familiarization sessions. Use social bookmarking for evidence brokering.

  6. Deliver more inclusive online and interactive training particularly to rural and remote partners.

  7. Use email list managers, Facebook, Twitter and SMS to organize F2F or virtual events.

So many options and decisions.

  • But it is much clearer to me what I need to being doing now .

  • Practice, Play, Explore, Trial, Checkout, Evaluate, Put aside, Adopt, Reflect.

  • Master the software.

  • Take reasonable and wise risks.

  • Understand and manage the risks of these technologies. Understand identify, monitor, avoid, live with.

  • Bring along my managers, peers and partners.

  • Feed this into my professional association.

  • Be enriched by the perspective and professional conversations about these tools and the emergent Health Promotion 2.0 paradigms.

  • Share and discuss my learning with line managers and worm teams and key partners. Invite colleagues to my blog.

  • Find allies and partners for new projects.

  • Understand what resources are needed. (Time and money and IT resources are needed or these types of projects.).

  • Work towards a project plan for small online project as a practice event. This is my sand pit -a safe play space for learning and development.

  • Work towards a “Session Plan-Lesson Plan” with-in such a project. I need to set up accounts and manage all the passwords and log ins securely.

Do I need to find a buddy with someone who has mastered what I'm still to master about online facilitation?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Zooming In-What do you want to learn to facilitate?

What do you want to learn to facilitate?

What would I like to achieve, change or do more of?

I’ve been unable to separate these two focus questions for this Facilitating Online Communities 2010.

Give my role in Health Promotion, I’m asking myself what do I need to be able to do with Web 2.0 tools and online communities.

  • Find, organize and spread evidence based practice, useful data and ideas.
  • Find people who might be interested in health promotion.
  • Understand my partners and their needs and beware of opportunities to offer advice and collaboration.
  • Interest people in becoming involved in health promotion projects and strategies. Link them up with other with a similar interests and complementary abilities.
  • Improve readiness of others to engage in health promotion and build their capacity to do the work.
  • A Find innovators and early adopters and support them and raise their profile with others as pat of a larger change strategies.
  • Advise others and provide expert support with my specialist skills and knowledge to undertake programs and projects that will improve population health outcomes.
  • Manage projects and collaborate with other on projects.
  • Evaluate projects and programs.
  • Set up and facilitate online Communities of Practice LINK
  • Set and facilitate wiki based events to capture practice wisdom around specific topics.
  • Produce and publish digital everything from podcasts to small videos to
    ElluminateLive sessions.


I want to know what these new web 2.0 tools can do? – What types of problems they can be applied to?

I want to know how to use them well-both strategically and tactically.

I suspect there might be foundational skills and advanced skills that build on the foundational skills.

I suspect I also ready have some skills from my 13 years of participation in online communities. I suspect it is a case of building on F2F skills as used for collaborations, project management, event organizations, communications, and meeting facilitation.

I want to learn how to modify my F2F skills to the new online environments. I’m interested in many things.

How can I use web 2.0 tools to collaboratively:

  • focus collective attention on hot topics, issues and possibilities,
  • define problems and map there dimensions and dynamics,
  • brainstorm possible solutions ,
  • identify and draw in resources,
  • choose priorities,
  • consider evidence of what strategies are most likely to work in local contexts
  • write and agree on collaborative action plans,
  • implement and evaluate the impacts of these action plans.

I'm also interested in building online Communities of Practice. The Australian Government has published some useful definitions and guidelines.

Related to this I am yet to master:

  • Using online tools to further community engagement and mobilization.
  • Using Facebook and other social network media (Linkedin) and traditional strategies to interest people in working on the problems and solutions I value.
  • Online advocacy and marketing of ideas and interesting people in problems, heuristics and paradigms.
  • Using Web 2.0 surveys such as Surveymonkey and polls

There are many tools to play with Delicious, Digg, Slideshare, Youtube ect.

So many more options. How do I choose?

I read today at

Map out the various social media apps and tools that you use in your daily work life and rank them in order of importance to you. If you could only keep one of them, which would it be and why? Ask yourself which tool helps you accomplish the widest variety of tasks on a regular basis. Is that the same tool as the one you couldn’t live without?

Good Questions but oh I wish that I was at that stage now.

Leaning Outcomes

At the end of this course the students will be able to:

1. describe the features of online communities and networks; (4/10)

2. describe the elements of skillful online facilitation; (5/10)

3. demonstrate an understanding of how online communication tools can be used to facilitate online; (4/10)

4. plan, facilitate and evaluate an online event. (7/10)

The danger of this self-rating is I don’t know what I don’t know I need to know yet but I think I’m seeing the new Health Promotion 2.0 paradigm at least in outline.

I’ve made a detailed list of my relevant skills but I’m not putting it up on the web. I’m not sure I understand the risks or the benefits.

I can see advantages about being very open but I’m also aware of some risks.

What do I want to learn – The Big Picture

Zooming out. What do I want to learn to facilitate - A new and better world- a wiser, more cooperative and healthier tomorrow-a brighter future.

I suspect some recently developed web based tools will be very useful in achieving this big goal.

I want to learn how to use them as software and how to select and combine these tools to achieve in ongoing work and collaborative projects. Web 2.0 is a common term for many of these tools.

If you wondering what Web 2.0 is see the definition on Wikipedia -itself a Web 2.0 phenomena.

It appleals to me to see the literature terms, like Government 2.0, Education 2.0, Libraries 2.0 , Health 2.0 The list goes on. You can Google these terms for more.

Another way of saying this, what I’m trying to understand and master what is Health Promotion 2.0.

Being an old campaigner in my life outside of work, I also want to know all these new possibilities and public expectation mean for political campaigning, and NGO public advocacy work.

I’m aware this is a big undertaking. It will take longer than this course. It is a work of ongoing professional development.

There is an empty blog billed as a how-to guide to promoting health in the 21st century that outlines in its empty structure the learning task before us.

Another source that scopes out the way towards Health Promotion 2.0 is the wiki

Monday, July 19, 2010

Web 1.0 e-learning vs Web 2.0

I came across this e-learning resource today from the UK in my area of mental health promotion.

Looking at the preview-it just seem so much a one way conversation, so typical of Web 1.0.

I expect more and I suspect so does anyone I would try to interest in this course.

Yesterday I signed up for a free online conference and sent this onto my contacts and colleagues.

It has features I value:
* podcast keynote addresses from leading figures in the field
* live Q&A with presenters
* Scholarly articles with expert commentary
* publishing workshops

The session on Internet Technology and Social Capital: How the Internet Affects Seniors' Social Capital and Wellbeing from researchers at the University of Sydney is of particular interest to me.

Perhaps this is an application for the skills I seek to gather in this course. Building social capital is key way to reduce mental illness and promote mental well-being. I have been giving this some thought for a few weeks now.

The use of these new Web 2.0 technologies seems by this massive academic publisher to me to be a harbinger of the future. Also a good evidence dissemination strategy to get research into practice and to close the implementation gap between what we know and what we do.

Human Services 2.0 Paradigm

The term Human Services 2.0 refers to new possibilities and expectations for human services that arise from the Web 2.0 technologies.

Wikipedia itself a Web2.0 phenomena describes Web 2.0 as follows:

"Web 2.0" is commonly associated with web development and web design that facilitates interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design and collaboration on the World Wide Web. Examples of Web 2.0 include web-based communities, hosted services, web applications, social-networking sites, video-sharing sites, wikis, blogs, mashups and folksonomies. A Web 2.0 site allows its users to interact with other users or to change website content, in contrast to non-interactive websites where users are limited to the passive viewing of information that is provided to them.”

The term Human Service 2.0 has the same relationship to Web 2.0 as the terms Business 2.0 , Enterprise 2.0, Government 2.0, Learning 2.0, Library 2.0, Medicine 2.0 and Social Work 2.0.

Web 2.0 technologies and the associated ways that people expect to make use of the internet is creating a paradigm shift in how services are organised.

Furthermore Web 2.0 technologies are undergoing exponential growth. There use is already significant. 40% growth in social networking is forecast per annual for the next 5 years. In a few years their application will pervasive.

This why I've joined this course. New competencies for a new paradigm.

Facilitation in the embodied world and in cyberspace.

Talking to the two of my friends/colleagues last night who do a lot of face to face facilitation.

Rob Nielsen who works for the government and Dr Christine King from the University Of QLD (The best intellect I know on the Darling Downs)

I've been thinking about comparing face to face facilitation to online e-based facilitation-the embodied world and life in cyberspace.

What matters in face to face facilitation?

Rob stressed clear goals and purpose for the meeting being facilitated, allowing everyone to speak, not allowing the extroverts to take up all the talk time, allowing the introverts time to think - before they have to answer, rules and values and norms that allow for respectful solution focused dialogue, keeping the group on task.

Rob's work helps groups make decisions, agree on plans, chart change strategies, overcome blockages. It’s about wise and united action. Rob works with many rural organizations and teams.

Chrissy’s work seems more varied and multicultural as she works in various countries but also a has rural focus.

Talking to Chrissy, we covered how different facilitation tasks can be depending on whether there is a sense united purpose or festering conflicts in a group.

I recalled a working definition I came up with in the mid 1980s-before emails even.
It was different work- the effort to communicate was costly based on printing, photocopiers, the rare computer and the postal service.

"Networks are groups people who communicate and cooperate because they perceive they have a common interest. "

A little digging at a s face to face event could reveal that there was not much united purpose.

In the e-world, people can link up with others of like minds and get underway if they get critical mass quite easily.

There are many millions of blogs out there. Anyone can blog away - but you need networks for it to start to make a difference. It is more than writing well. They don't have to all agree. They don't have to join an organisation anymore. They don't have to resolve conflict with others. They don't have to listen or read other who do not share their ideas and values. They can enjoy their splendid isolation if they choose.

But for a little more effort people can form networks with dissimilar people, and use wiki and web 2.0 collaboration tools to share perspectives, share information, come to agreement, commit their resources and skills and share their networks and credibility and take action together. All this requires dialogue and mutual respect. Without these people will not come to a shared agreement about the shape of the problem and effective strategies that will lead to it's solution. Together such people can become powerful.

What are the key change processes in the above model?

Good facilitation leads to informal learning which leads to improved problem models and a better understanding of resources that could be mobilised as part of the solution.

Good facilitation leads to a sense of ownership because collaborative partners have been listened to and their interests have been respected by others.

The learning excites and motivates people. (People like to commit to activities were they can learn.)

The respectful relationships motive worker engagement.

The quality of plans motivates action and investment in the collaborative strategy. No of is a smart as all of us. Together we can achieve that which is beyond us a individuals.

What I have written reminds me a project I developed in 2009 called NEYONDS.
For a short video pitch about this project to get a social entrepreneurs grant see

Or in 100 words.
NEYONDS-Network for the Early Years on the Downs and Surrounds.
With this project we will establish a sustainable social enterprise. NEYONDS will reinvent the interagency meeting using Web 2.0 media. This project will create a self funding-self governing NGO with a community capacity building mission.

Our project works to reorient service systems towards an early intervention prevention and human development paradigm.

NEYONDS aims to empower the innovators /risk takers in human services/school systems. It will link up innovators whom are concerned about the outcomes that matter for their communities. NEYONDS uses Web 2.0 power shifting technologies to shake up ineffective practices and to break down the silos in human services/education.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What will this course mean for my future work practices?

This weeks learning task:

Make a plan for what you want to learn and explore, and write it up (or present in another way eg mindmap, video recording) on your blog.

In my recent blog entry I didn’t really, go into detail about what I want to learn in FO2010 and beyond. It was the big picture view.

This post is much more specific.

I’ve kinda been conducting my own Training Needs Analysis.

Part of this has been a stocktake of my own pre-existing skills relevant to the task of mastering Health Promotion 2.0.

I think my personal tool bag is pretty good.

I work as a Health Promotion Officer and I’ve had that job title over 13 years.
Before that mainly worked in NGOs and had fabulous opportunities to learn new skills, many of which I still draw up heavily.

Before 13 years there does not seem to be have been many people in the world who had a job title of Mental Health Promotion Officer. Such is modern life.

My work is in a specialist area of health promotion. Many people have no idea or wrong ideas what Health Promotion is. Health education is a small part of health promotion work. I am not involved in publicity for health services in ant meaningful sense.

A foundational document in health promotion is the Ottawa Charter from the World Health Organisation. I read it years before I was ever involved in health promotion at it stuck with me as a great document.

It reads very well. Few professional groups have such an inspiring and insightful document as a foundation.

My professional association, the Australian Health Promotion Australia LINK is conducted a long process to produce a statement of the core competencies of my profession.

Other bodies in various states and some international organization have also been producing lists of competencies. Notable is the Galway Conference Declaration

What strikes me about the all these lists, is that they will all need an extensive rework because of Web 2.0. I suspect this is the same for the competencies for many other professions.

The Health Promotion Australia Competency List in summary are:

The major competencies required include:
1. Program planning, implementation and evaluation competencies
1.1 Needs (or situational) assessment competencies
1.2 Program planning competencies
1.3 Competencies for planning evidenced-based strategies
1.4 Evaluation and research competencies

2. Partnership building competencies

3. Communication and report writing competencies

4. Technology competencies

5. Knowledge competencies

What strikes me is that new collaborative Web 2.0 technologies are changing our work very fast. The above competencies list will be out of date in few years.

The core technology competencies are pretty basic.

It says:
An entry level health promotion practitioner is able to:
4.1 operate a computer, word processing and email systems;
4.2 use software for footnotes, endnotes, and other report layout requirements;
4.3 manage database and spreadsheet applications;
4.4 use the internet as a work tool;
4.5 use technology based systems to identify and review the literature; and
4.6 operate audiovisual and multimedia equipment

As for the Galway Conference List, I like it much more.

It reads:

The competencies required to engage in health promotion practice fall into eight

1. Catalyzing change – Enabling change and empowering individuals and communities to improve their health.

2. Leadership – Providing strategic direction and opportunities for participation in developing healthy public policy, mobilizing and managing resources for health promotion, and building capacity.

3. Assessment – Conducting assessment of needs and assets in communities and systems that leads to the identification and analysis of the behavioral, cultural, social, environmental and organizational determinants that promote or compromise health.

4. Planning – Developing measurable goals and objectives in response to assessment of needs and assets, and identifying strategies that are based on knowledge derived from theory, evidence, and practice.

5. Implementation – Carrying out effective and efficient, culturally-sensitive, and ethical strategies to ensure the greatest possible improvements in health, including management of human and material resources.

6. Evaluation – Determining the reach, effectiveness, and impact of health promotion programs and policies. This includes utilizing appropriate evaluation and research methods to support program improvements, sustainability, and dissemination.

7. Advocacy – Advocating with and on behalf of individuals and communities to improve their health and well-being and building their capacity for undertaking actions that can both improve health and strengthen community assets.

8. Partnerships – Working collaboratively across disciplines, sectors, and partners to enhance the impact and sustainability of health promotion programs and policies.

It takes a bit of thinking about to work out what all this means for Health Promotion 2.0.

I can see real power in social network media tools to do all these things. But which tools, and how to use them to what ends.

My head is full of questions about what is the potential and now every use of the Web 2.0 as a work tool in Health Promotion.

Robyn Kalda from Canada has put up a powerpoint on this topic in past few weeks that covers some of the things I want to learn.

Innovative Use of Information Technology for Health Promotion:
Making your Work more Effective, Easier and Possibly Even More Fun

She is linked with the Health Promotion Clearinghouse is one of the best examples of how Web 2.0 might be used.

There is also the empty web site

I think this clearinghouse are seeing what can be done but not quite yet pulling it off. Bring along your partners to be able to use Web 2.0 seems to be a key challenge.

It takes time to learn these new tools and imagination is a barrier.

I remember when everybody was pretty pleased with the IMB Electric Typewritter then along came this thing call the dedicated word processor in the early 1970s.

With a word processing machine the stored text could be edited. Editing functions was basic including Insert, Delete, Skip (character, line), and so on.

Someone once trained me how to use them just as they were all sent to the dump and replaced by PC based word-processing software.

The labor and cost savings of word processing machines over typing were immediate, and remarkable.

The typing pools were disrupted to say the least. Pages of typing no longer had to be retyped to correct the most basic errors. Projects could be retrieved and worked on or modified.

Next came a wave of change - PC based spreadsheets, databases and then desktop publishing.

With these tools my productively leaped.

The next wave was email and then the World Wide Web.

I've found the internet pretty boring since the arrival of Web 1.0.

While I was involved in spreading email and the www to others, generally I could not have been much bothered with most new internet based technology

But I now find this web 2.0 stuff is really exciting.

As exciting as spreadsheets, databases and then desktop publishing, emails and web pages.

I predict that this Web 2.0 stuff feels like its going to change the way we do things.

Part of the problem is going to be bring along my peers, partners and stakeholders sooner rather than latter.

The Blogging are you serious attitude

I love this post on the blog The Bamboo Project because I feel that blogging in mental health promotion is not seen as respectable.


A search of found 4 blogs that mentioned “health promotion” although many many blogs mention health promotion topics.

My weekly Google Alerts on ‘mental health promotion” gives me a few blog hits every week.

Last week I stumbled upon a health promotion wiki

I’m still working my way into it but it may be useful to many in this course.

I also found last week a mental health promotion blog Using technology to improve youth mental health which part of Phd study.

I guess I'm saying that one of the learning needs is strategies to draw others into these news methods. Some of this will involve helping them over come barriers and punch in their facilitators.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Now a blogger-Barriers & facilitators

Been pushed through some barriers to finally become a blogger by my desire to do a online course on facilitating communities

Gets me thinking about what have been the barriers and facilitators.


• Time required to get familiar with new software and how and what to use it for.
• Fear of unknown risks – particularly in a work context.
• Our IT Department – Seems to put up barriers.


* This course.
* A favorable reception to project ideas from work using social media and web 2.0 to advance health promotion.
* Good outcome of dabbling with Facebook for work purposes.
* Reading about Web 2.0 revolution.
* Previous experience with achieving amazing stuff pioneering the use of Desttop publishing, then email and latter WWW back a few decades.
* A very basic organisational policy on use of communications tools that gives a green light to use of things like Facebook and other Web 2.0 .
* Clear organizational expectations that we can chart our own professional development and control of a budget to do it.
*My excitement about what could be achieved –Brighter futures wise. (An instant blog name.)

Facilitators overcome barriers and action.

Guess I need to post a short bio and picture.