Sunday, 25 November 2007

What can blogging contribute to the training and development of project managers

UPDATE - 2nd Jan
A very nice person has just commented that the link to the dissertation is no longer working. I've put it instead on a wiki - here's the new link to my dissertation

Right, I've set up a website so that I can actually put my dissertation online and link to it - what a faff! I just wish blogger allowed you to upload documents, instead of only linking to them. Hey ho.

Apologies for the rather, er, basic site, and all the's a free site, you get what you pay for (or don't pay for) I guess. Avoid the advert popup nightmare by just going to the dissertation (see link below).

This action research study examines the contribution a group blog can make to the training and development of project managers and indicates that blogging effectively supports knowledge sharing and learning.

Three cycles of research provided evidence that blogging has utility as a tool for informal learning, enabling the capture and dissemination of experience based knowledge. Project managers taking part in the study realised benefits such as access to previously unattainable knowledge and information, and increased exposure to alternative practice. The similarity of the context of the experiences, advice and guidance submitted to the blog and the project managers working context enabled effective learning transfer.

Postive reactions to anonymous posting indicated a culture which does not support the open sharing of mistakes and failures, preventing project managers to learn from and mitigate against these mistakes recurring. Anonymity provided a degree of protection to those concerned about possible repercussions from contributions but prevented the development of more productive collaborative relationships.

Participants were reluctant to post, a possible indication of an inability to identify good practice with value to others. Although interview responses indicated that the blog encouraged reflection on practice, further development of project manager’s skills in reflection may facilitate an increase in the sharing of tacit knowledge and good practice.

The need for management support was indicated throughout the study. The relative importance of learning must be raised to encourage the prioritisation of learning and managers need to show their support by allowing more time for participation on the blog. The management of the blog itself was received positively, indicating the need for facilitation and moderation, however the community responded negatively to over and under management indicating that a light touch is required when facilitating a group blog.

The study demonstrates therefore, that a group blog has considerable potential as a tool for informal learning and may be effectively used alongside formal training interventions. However, a well developed ability to reflect on practice along with an open, supportive culture of sharing are required to maximise the potential of blogging for learning and knowledge sharing.

Click here for the full dissertation

Friday, 23 November 2007

Disseration success!!! Academia doesn't hate me after all....

After all my ranting about academia (in this post and this post) they've actually been kind enough to grant me an MEd with Distinction...

Am really quite proud :-)

Will post the entire dissertation for those with insomnia...

Thanks to my fantastically grounded supervisor Andrea, and my hubby, without whose cooking efforts during the 3 months I lived in the office of an evening and only ate when it was put in front of me, I would have probably died of malnutrition.

Helen Nicol, BA, MA, MEd

Searching - it's all about individual differences

I'm still convinced that the skills of librarians are paramount to the success of utilising web 2.0. I'm starting also to think that individual and social psychology have a role too (I KNEW there was a point to studying Humanities...)

This video from Mike Wesch (via Stephen Dale) illustrates the power of searching, removing the need for a pre-organised filing system, but with the underlying need for effective tagging.

Folksonomies are powerful, in that they are driven by the searcher, it's filing by a democracy, but searching is anarchic...anyone can use the term they think of to look for whatever they are thinking of.

Understanding individual differences, different spelling, interprettation, ways of thinking and being, can all help us to understand what language different people might use to find something. Searching is only as effective as the tagging behind it. The more people rely on searching to find information, the greater the need to understand we're all very different beasts. Information management is becoming as much about how information can be made accessible, as it is about the information itself. If you want your information to be discovered, used and appreciated, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the people you want to find it.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Second Life - how it really is...

Having totally failed to "get" second life, mostly because I can't move around in it very well (never was very good with games) this video tickled me so I thought I'd share....

Thanks to
Dennis Coxe for posting it on the Internet Time Community

Friday, 16 November 2007

Web 2.0 driving forward a different kind of customer relationship

As a Wiggly Wigglers wormery owner myself (I love my worms) I was interested to see this video of Wiggly Wigglers frontwoman Heather Gorridge, long term blogger and podcaster, on her creation and use of podcasts.

It's interesting that she emphasises the point that she only podcasts what she's interested in, that if people are interested in going with her, that's great, but if they're not, they should "listen to something else".

That's a brave attitude, and one that goes against marketing theory - the mantra "listen to your customers" is not one she's considering here. She's driving her own agenda, and people are following and not visa versa. That's what you can do with the internet - talk about what interests YOU and find that others share that interest. But a very different standpoint from a business I think...

Thanks to Rafa for commenting on my last post so that when I followed his link I found this video on
his blog (dontcha just love networks).

Friday, 9 November 2007

Facebook more popular than football and porn

I know it's sad, but I really love stats and graphs...and have been having some fun tonight playing with the fabulous Google Trends.

Having mucked about with it a bit, I realised you can do comparison trends, and obviously after a glass of wine or two, I thought I'd see just how popular social networking sites really are, as everyone I meet now seems to have a presence on Facebook.
According to UK searches on Google, Facebook is now a more popular search item than football, holidays or porn! Here's proof...
In the US, Time magazine even agrees that Facebook is more popular than porn.

I'd love to see some stats on the level of usage of different available on Facebook, to more fully understand how people are actually using it, considering you can do anything from fling food at one another, to fighting vitual wars (which I know too well, being as I am, addicted to Warbook), to collaborating on group projects and sharing information. I'm sure someone somewhere will be starting a thesis on the use of Facebook but knowing what it is that has made Facebook so popular that as a search term, it's ranks more highly than porn and football will give us a real insight into how we might leverage online social networking for business advantage.

In the meantime, I'll just enjoy it for what it is, good fun, excellent for connecting with likeminded people and really very useful for keeping in touch with people I rarely see, even if it is just sending them virtual G&Ts.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Digital library...what about the technophobes

I was in the British Library yesterday - something I'd always wanted to do, and never seemed to have time. Staying at the Novotel (quite nice actually) next door, I thought, why not, I'll go and have a peruse...

Well, I wasn't allowed was I (grumble). I didn't have the right ID...something to do with my driving license still being in my maiden name and all my bank cards in my married name (whoops!) but what really struck me was the fact that EVERYTHING is now digital...well, almost.

Anyway, I was signing up, using the terminal to enter my data, and a lady next to me was visibly sweating. She was grumbling "bloody computers" and bashing keys, getting more and more flustered. The registration lady noticed that she was about to pop, and came over to help, saying "I can only do this if noone sees me helping you". I just thought about all the other people who must struggle with the computerised library facilities.

The British library is indeed, highly digital. The catalogue searches are all digital, online collections are available in all the reading rooms (which I wasn't allowed in I remind you), it was hell on earth for anyone with low level technical skills. So what about accessibility? Most of the under 30's are au fait with technology. What about the over 30's? Not everyone with an interest in knowledge and information can use a keyboard and mouse. We spend hours making sure our online contributions are DDA complient, but what about the huge number of people who get palpitations when they have to use a PC?

I know there's been a huge effort to raise the level of IT skills in the UK, but people are still techophobes, or people who just haven't had the need to use a computer, for many reasons. However much we tout the internet and digital services as the way to go, we are in danger of excluding people if we don't support them to be able to use the amazing services we are making available.

Technologically driven improvements are fantastic for those who are adept and interested, and I'm sure digital libraries will do very well in universities etc. But I really felt for the poor lady standing next to me, who I'm sure was having what should have been an inspiring and enlightening visit to the British library ruined because she hadn't learned how to use a computer.

Part of me wants to think - get with the programme Grandma (she was only about 40 though....), the other part worries that we're getting too eager to provide online and digital services without thinking enough about who is accessing them.

Everyone has had problems with new technologies as this video demonstrates (thanks to Karen Blakeman for pointing it out to me)...but maybe we need to think more about making support available to those who really need it, to make the inevitable transition to a world of predominately digital media.