Tag Archives: social learning

Distributed governance of technological innovation through the case of WiBro in S. Korea.

I attended the Social Informatics Cluster meting to hear Jee Hyun Suh present on: Co evolution of an emerging mobile technology and mobile services: distributed governance of technological innovation through the case of WiBro in S. Korea. These are rough notes taken during the presentation.

She presented the story of WiBro and the implications for the governance of large scale technological innovations for technology companies and government. WiBro was initiated from 2001 as a national R&D programme for high speed portable internet, it was harmonised with national and international standards (WiMax) and went to a commercial launch in 2006. It is widely seen as a case of market failure despite a successful technological innovation.

The research objectives were initially to examine the socio-technical factors in the development of the technology and the gap between the visions and outcomes of the technology commercialisation and explore the governance of large scale and complex innovations. The technology’s development was interpreted through social learning processes with a particular focus on building alignments between the technology, service evolution, standardisation and social learning within a wider development arena of R&D.

Over the course of the research period, 2001 to date, the focus of interest shifts from design & development of the technologies to a commercial focus on then on to a focus of the service evolution. The WiBro development was linked to broader policy imperatives of positioning S.Korea as innovation leader.

The technology itself was predicated on a problematisation of the inefficient use of 2.3 GHz and then enrolment of stakeholders to co-shape a generic vision of the using bandwidth portable internet service. This became co-evolved with drive towards a High performance portable internet and processes of standardisation.Standard setting closely linked to bandwidth/ spectrum allocation. Became conceived as a seamlessly interlinked innovation process. but different interests and objectives across stakeholders remained unresolved especially between focus on tech dev vs commercial exploitation through existing technologies. Also shifting alignments around adoption of differing international standards. The technology had been successfully developed and as pre-commercial produce was show cased at APEC 2005.
Commercialisation occured around processes of spectrum licensing. Again, different visions for WiBro, eg as an extension of fixed line services, as a differentiated service and as a complementary service to existing mobile networks. These different visions were rolled into different commercial aims eg, early market advantage vs emphasis on interoperability, adoption or blocking of VoIP as well as the emergence of 3G services. The later development of 4G mobile resulted in shifts to the vision of WiBro and how it should evolve.
Also, the commercial focus bifurcated on domestic versus a global market focus. In the domestic market, there could be seen the dynamics of trail and error on finding niche markets for WiBro, eg, mobile routers, digital shipyards, WiBro-Taxi. This market learning processes occurred despite tensions between players and their visions for the service.
The argument presented was that the ‘problem’ of WiBro should be framed in terms of uncertainties in innovation processes rather than in terms of a failure in diffusion/ commercialisation. So the coordination challenges and dispersed arenas of innovation enabled key players to interact in the social shaping of this particular technology highlighting the importance of stakeholder reflexivity and flexibility in large-scale technological innovations.
It was also noted during the Q&A that WiBro coincided with the testing and general failure of attempts at developing national technology champions that could then be exported in to global markets.

For more on social learning processes in innovation diffusion, see:

Sociability and networking

I’m currently analysing a couple of Twitter chat events aimed at learning professionals. The analysis will mainly be qualitative but to make sense of what are often a messy and chaotic events, I’m currently doing some pattern searches on the nature and functions of participants’ interactions. This image is of a social network analysis of both communities over a three month period. Now I really wasn’t expecting something like this – more that two distinct groups would emerge with a few boundary spanners. What I’m seeing is a densely networked professional community with few distinct clusters and stronger ties between the two event communities than a casual read through the event archives would have suggested.
Network ALL2_BCMore analysis is needed on the types of exchanges being seen but its an interesting image nonetheless.

Learning Insights ….

Kineo, the e-learning company, have issued a new report on e-learning insights based on interviews with “learning leaders” to identify key emerging trends. I’m not going to repeat the report but will look at a few of their ten key insights:

1. Learning is pervasive. Learning is continuous, collaborative and connected and most learning lives outside a learning management system. This has implications for the learning architecture and intervention models adopted by Learning and Development departments.

ZypadI see this as a key insight. Not as some new trend in learning but rather as something that L&D is (finally) waking up to. Most learning at and for work occurs through working: by solving problems; collaborating with others; being challenged and being observant. Much of this learning occurs vicariously and by serendipity and well outside much of the activities and service offers of L&D functions. The weaknesses were always that organisations were failing to understand that all this learning was going on and that staff weren’t being recognis

ed for making this learning happen. In addition, learning and knowledge was being lost because no attempt was made to capture it, staff were not always making best use of it as learning wasn’t either intentional or the main goal and also that employees had under-developed capabilities in “learning to learn“. What *has* changed is that digital technologies, especially digital working, has made such learning and knowledge more visible and these informal learning processes more transparent.

4. Design higher empathy learning. …It is not so much about meeting learning objectives as about empathy with the learner, their position, their challenges and personalising their experience.

Which I take to mean L&D should seek to get the right knowledge to the right people at the time they need to use it … No argument here and this may well prove to be a crucial focus for future developments around predictive learning analytics; knowledge management and knowledge resource development and work/ learning integration.

7. Informal learning must not become chaotic. There is a danger with the pervasive nature of learning and the wide range of informal opportunities that learning can become chaotic.

Is an interesting pronouncement but I’d argue not a key issue as most workers will be seeking to get the job done to the best of their abilities. L&D should be concerned with developing an enabling infrastructure, establish baseline (learning to learn) competence in employees but then largely get out of the way.

10. Where web technology goes, learning will follow. It is difficult to overstate the degree of change in web technology.

This seems to me to point to a shift from LMS  to Personal Learning Environments/ Networks that span the boundaries of any organisation and where significant components are owned by the employee – see Jane Hart’s post here

Its an interesting a useful report.


[Image of the ZYPAD, rugged wrist wearable computer from Arcom Control Systems licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported]

Social network: knowledge and learning at work

Here are my slides from a workshop held for the University Forum for Human Resource Development (UHRD)

My talk was followed by Amy Woodgate talking about the University of Edinburgh‘s experience with MOOCs. There is a detailed report on the University’s first round of MOOCs available here. What surprised me, was the extent of the treatment of MOOCs as Open Education Resources  and the positive way the University was supporting other universities in using MOOC content for their own degree programme, other organisations in using MOOC resources for workplace learning and even schools using the MOOCs for classroom teaching. All in all, an inspiring talk and discussion.

Social learning – pervasive or choice?

@julianstodd Tweeted an older posting of his on the nature of social learning here and its importance for an organisation in terms of compliance, standardisation and ethics. A few things struck me about the post, not least, its narrow definition of social learning as being collaborative (and hence notionally equal, non-hierarchical) where learning is an emergent property of such collaboration. He also seems to suggest that social learning is a choice that organisations can choose to do or not do rather than a description of how people learn and behave in organisations, departments and teams.

So the issue of control and compliance is addressed in the case of a valve:

Take that problem with a valve: firstly, the organisation has a legal obligation to train you to change it safely. They have to discover the best way, then they have to have that way accredited and verified, then they have to train you, let you practice and sign you off as competent. Within this legal framework, there is little space for social learning, which would be more likely to ask why not try this other way?

You could include a space for more experienced engineers to contribute feedback and thoughts, although this can easily breach legal guidelines (if one of them says ‘just hit it with a hammer’).

Except we know from research that compliance to regulation is negotiated in the workplace – that social learning takes place regardless of organisational intent. Social learning is happening – people are learning the trade from ‘experts’ in interpreting, in that research, and negotiating health & safety compliance. Social learning is not something that is a choice when people work together, it happens anyway and organisations or L&D functions should not forget that. So @julianstodd’s conclusion framed in terms of a case for adoption of social learning is, to me, flawed.

However, it is good to see in the post the recognition of the darker side of social learning:

but there is a darker side to this too in the form of bullying or, in a lesser form, hustling in these spaces. Some people have strongly developed skills in putting their view across forcefully and the transition into the virtual world of social can reinforce the way they do this. It’s well known that people can tend to say things in emails or texts that they would never say in person. We tend to be less inhibited, giving greater potential for conflict or misunderstanding.

This aspects of social learning and communities of practice is often absent from debates on the concepts.

An interesting post providing a partial but useful discussion piece.


Whether formal or informal, its the learning that counts

I liked Nick Shacklton-Jones’ post arguing that there’s no such thing as formal learning concluding that

My point, I suppose, is that if you have a good understanding of how learning works, you don’t have to fabricate mythical species of learning to explain what you see. There is just learning, and the way in which it happens in various contexts. The more you think about it, the sillier it seems – that we should categorise learning based on the convention in which it occurs. The same mechanism is at work, whatever the context.

Formal learning, as he is describing it, is really a task-based activity concerned with completion to a quality standard (assessment/ exams). By understanding learning as what it is, intentional and self-directed allows an almost complete reconfiguration of how learning is supported (not provided or delivered). It should be emphasised that learning is about learning ‘how’ to do something and so also, knowing where to find information/ knowledge and who to ask and much less acquiring knowledge.

For this reason, I think a research project on ‘Charting‘:

Charting is the process whereby an individual manages and optimises their interaction with the people and resources who (may) have a role in their learning and development.

is well worth watching – for its implications for work-based learning as well as for higher education.

Flock: meet, learn, teach… locally

Last Friday (28 Sept) , I went to an interesting presentation at InSpace which included a presentation from Morna Simpson, CEO of Flockedu. Flockedu aims to link teachers and adult learners for face-to-face learning with a tag line of “meet, learn, teach… locally”.

The idea for the company started with a personal injury that coincided with the student fees and cuts in Higher Education. The purpose of Flockedu is to link learners, teachers and venues for learning in the community alongside signposting and linking to other online learning resources. The business model is based on taking a small fee from the income generated from the trainers also draws in supplementary income from merchandising an data mining for business intelligence.

I particularly enjoyed the development process that started by Morna leveraging her online network and organised three hackdays June – Sept 2010. Participants gained a proportion of ownership of the company – an interesting alternative ownership model. While the business model for the business is emergent it appears to meet a clear market space on leveraging technology to support the demands for social, collaborative and community learning activities, face-to-face, locally and together.

The presentation itself was included as part of the Entrepreneur in Residence (following 9 month pause for surgery -something here about bad luck and later success?).



Here we go with four links on technology in education including MIT’s Open Education Initiative:

5 Ways Tech Startups Can Disrupt the Education System: An interesting post but see link below on MITs recent initiatives on open education that undermine the notion that disruptions only come from start-ups. Incumbents can also have an imagination!

MIT launches online learning initiative – MIT News Office: An interesting initiative and aggressive extension and endorsement of open education resources:

“Creating an open learning infrastructure will enable other communities of developers to contribute to it, thereby making it self-sustaining,” … “An open infrastructure will facilitate research on learning technologies and also enable learning content to be easily portable to other educational platforms that will develop. In this way the infrastructure will improve continuously as it is used and adapted.”

Design Thinking for Educators: Large resource and toolkit to support the application of design thinking to education.

Various ways to use social media as a facilitator or trainer: useful overview and typology of various social media tools for different training and facilitation situations.

Innovation as knowing, experience and action?

These are some very rough initial thoughts that I hope to develop over a couple of posts.

Building on an earlier post on learning, creativity & innovation summarising

that (a) innovation occurs through learning and (b) learning is a social/ collaborative process (and so innovation is also a collaborative process)

it is clear that innovation is about people involved in interactions with an emphasis on action. It is only through doing things together that tacit knowledge can be exchanged. This is not about converting tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge which is probably a bit a of a myth. Rather this is about social interaction for co-creation of knowledge by doing together – so we can’t just be talking about imitation. So innovation is about novelty, co-creating new knowledge within existing interactions or through new and novel connections. As Ekvall noted, there is value in openess, trust, playfulness and humour in work. So the highly intangible assets of an organisation such as its culture are critical here, pointing to how innovation links HR practices and knowledge management. So innovation practices are intensely practical and organisation specific and wide – innovation cannot be concentrated in the R&D unit, new product development functions or a skunkworks

learning management system: managing what?

A great post from Jane Knight on LMS adoption – the comments are great value too. The concept of workscapes as spaces where work practices and learning practices are enmeshed I particularly like. As the Internet Time Alliance state:

Work and learning have become one and the same. Networks rule. Nothing is certain. Simply doing things better no longer guarantees prosperity or even survival.

In my working life, I would say that a LMS has had at best (worse?) a small space in supporting my personal professional development. This reflects two factors: (a) much of my learning occurs through interactions that span the boundaries of, or occur outside, my employer; (b) I’m not expecting an employer to employ me for ever so why tie my learning (for how else to I keep myself attractive in the jobs market?) to *that* employer – doesn’t make sense. Similarly, being tied to a specific ‘product’ for my Personal Learning Environment/ Network is also unattractive. The flexibility of loosely coupling the best tools for the task at hand – be it doing, reflecting, collating experiences etc. – just seems to work in ways that I’ve never found replicated in a single ‘product’. My sense is that firms seeking a socialised LMS are looking to impose management 1.0 (command & control) on a world of working and learning 2.0 (apologies for the point zero tags but time is short ;-)