Week notes #193

This week I did:

Investigated MS Teams for Education

I spent some time learning about Teams for Education and whether it might meet our needs. It is very conceptualised around schools, but that might not be a bad thing, even for less formal education as it brings a certain amount of expectation on the part of the student. They already understand that they will be classes at certain times led by a tutor, for example. I think it’s important that we (all) don’t fall into the trap of thinking that we can easily take things like education and learning and simply deliver them through an online platform and expect the same results as when delivered in-person in physical environments.

Some of the thinking I’ve looked into around online education, includes how Massive Open Online Courses suffer from very low course completion rates, the differences in how people respond to live vs. pre-recorded video, how groups work together in synchronous, semi-synchronous, and asynchronous learning, how much individualised support from someone who cares that the student learns well improves learning, and how the concept of learning as education-as-entertainment where students are spoken to as passive consumers of information rather than engaged active learners affects the outcomes. We need to reboot things like education, not just redeploy them via a different channel.

Online video conferencing 

I spent some time comparing online video platforms. One of the interesting things is how much network data they consume when accessed on a mobile phone. Someone using a £10 32gb Pay-As-You-Go top-up could use up a third of their data on a one hour video call, costing them £3. It’s definitely something charities need to consider if they are pushing people to access support via online video.

Nominet worked with some major internet providers to allow zero-rate access to the NHS website, so that people can access important health information during the pandemic. I wonder if it’s a model that could be rolled out to charities working with disadvantaged people.

Time management

The team discussed moving on to reduced hours and how to manage workload when we do. I also thought about what I’d like to do with those extra hours:

  • Complete the Digital Business module for my Masters. 
  • Write three essays for my website.
  • Figure what I want to do with future.charity

All of these involve writing, which is something I want to do much more of and get better at to improve how I communicate ideas.


This week I studied:

Metamodernism 

One of the essays for my website is called ‘Team of the future’ and is about the shift in thinking that teams will apply to be successful in a digital world. Understanding metamodernism and how it underpins the culture of our times is an important part so I’ve been reading, thinking and writing about it. Some of the key themes seem to be around postmodern thinking making greater use of opposites and certainty, and in contrast metamodern thinking accepts greater uncertainty and more options. Understanding how something so pervasive as a cultural paradigm bubbles up into the behaviors of a team is interesting.

Certification

As MS Teams is becoming the dominant workplace platform for many organisation, central to our IT strategy, and a part of collaborative online working, I thought I might learn more about the technical side of how to set up Teams. Of course the interesting part is always the cultural side of adoption and use, which is something I’d like to figure out more about too.

Platforms

I’ve been reading the Platform Design Toolkit, and as a “framework that one can use to envision, develop and rollout platform strategies that mobilize ecosystems”. Given that platform thinking is, or will be, fundamental to every business model (even if they don’t know it yet) it seems useful to understand some of the thinking.


This week I thought about:

Cause-agnostic charity 

Cause is central to what it means to be charity (under traditional thinking). The Charity Commission regulations require a charity to select what type of cause the charity will be focused on when registering to be a charity. But what if there was such a thing as a cause-agnostic charity, one that could point it’s fundraising, service delivery, etc., skills at whatever issues are facing society at the time? It would diversify funding streams as the charity could apply for cause-related funds for the issue they are tackling at the time, and it would cross-pollinate ideas and techniques from different areas of issues.

Product eco-systems for charities

Product development at charities seems stuck in a descending spiral. Charities can’t reasonably commit the resources to develop products that would better fit their needs when there are commercially available products that come close and have dedicated software development teams. This means that as a sector, lots of money is spent buying the same not-quite-right solution again and again. If charities worked together more to create an ecosystem of products for charities, that any charity (our charitable developer, partner organisation, etc.) to use and contribute to, then the entire sector might benefit from products that are more fit for purpose, and having one place to go for solutions rather than having to go through assessment and tendering processes every time. Maybe it’s an extension of charity-as-a-platform, but it’s a hard spiral to get turning the other way.


This week on Twitter people were tweeting about:

Don’t blow up whales

Doncaster council tweeted about a dead whale that washed up on shore in Oregon and then blown up against the advice of experts, and what this can teach us about responding to coronavirus (basically, listen to the experts and stay at home).

Tips on group management for online video

Will Myddleton tweeted about tips for delivering video sessions which I want to write up and keep as some good guidance.

COVID-19 isn’t a black swan

The centre for the study of existential risk at the University of Cambridge said that the coronavirus is not a black swan event and is not an existential risk to humanity. It’s bad, but it was predicted and what it really shows is how unprepared we are as a hyper-connected society.