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Deciding on an Enterprise Social Network – technology and disability supports

June 22, 2014
From Jane Hart's powerpoint - see below for more information

From Jane Hart’s powerpoint – see below for more information

“This knowledge machine [the internet] only works if you have wonder and curiousity. If you don’t have, it just becomes distraction.” Michael Wesch, Learning as Soul Making

I’ve got to be part of a few different learning networks over the last several years, and am fascinated by the implications for folks who support people with disabilities, families and self advocates.   We need to get on the same page and collaborate, act decisively for inclusion everywhere, find ways to problem solve with others in our agencies, communities and beyond those horizons, and share a growing body of knowledge so that research becomes practice in far less than the 13 years people predict it takes to make that transition and so that our practices can more effectively inform research.   Operating out of silos allows a continuing focus on disability supports as a commodified field that is less about social justice and more about ego and turf-tending – both holdovers from institutional life.

One possibility would be to create a kind of Enterprise Social Network – there are already some variations of this around.   An Enterprise Social Network is an internal workplace that can streamline communication, provide a sense of online community and help forge connections.  CLBC and BACI are using “the Hub” as a format for sharing information; Inclusion Press and the Marsha Forrest Centre in Ontario run a ning full of discussion forums; CLBC has been hosting a multi-social-media platform around their StartWithHi campaign.  A couple of organizations have created learning platforms such as “Conversations that Matter” – a values driven education site that people can subscribe to.

So what else is possible, if we focus on a need for access for everyone and collaboration?  How might we find out what everyone is doing and problem solve with each other and create opportunities to clarify our language and intentions?  You can see some example of various services here.   Big companies are creating Enterprise Social Networks in hopes of getting everyone on the same page and working better together.  The Deloitte company predicts that “90% of Fortune 500 companies will have partially or fully implemented an enterprise social network by the end of 2013.”

The marvellous Jane Hart has pointed out that new skills are needed in these new settings and that they are mostly social skills – what’s particularly interesting in our field is that such skills are transferrable to our daily practices of supporting inclusion.    I’m excited about learning more about these possibilities in August by taking an online course with Jane in Modern Learning Strategies – let me know if you’re going to take this too so we can have some fun collaborating!  I am looking forward to exploring things like Yammer!  If you want to think a bit more about what might be possible right now, check out Jane’s recent powerpoint slides on “20 small changes to modernise the workplace learning experience.”

What are the problems in our field around collaboration, learning and implementing best practices and turning research into action?

– constant cuts to our budgets have eroded training budgets

– few resources are dedicated, and few human resources and many of our assumptions about priorising “care” mean that we devalue other strengths that don’t seem to have an immediate “front-line” application

– people attracted to human services are often not the people attracted to technology

– collaboration is often a new idea for people used to working in silos of small communities served; Collaborate Delta, for example, is tackling the need for collaboration even in one area of the province

– a lack of clarity about what we are working towards, given a field with a history embedded in medical and educational systems that defined those we support by their deficits and through a social constructionist process has created many unchallenged belief sets at various levels

– an odd power structure dynamic in which people with little or no experience of the actual lives of folks with disabilities are often in authority and seem to be not very good at asking open-ended questions or listening…

So, imagine if there was a great big site in which we could discuss things until they were clear, and come up with common definitions of inclusion, challenge each other, share success stories and celebrate our achievements, and grow a newly defined body of knowledge through research and practice?  Is that even possible?  The problems are:

– people finding time to check in and keep up and learning about how to be in a new kind of social space…

– people learning the technology

– people having the necessary hardware (computers, etc.)

– people dedicated to initiating and facilitating that social space…

I really like this video by Michael Wesch – part of the fun of working with groups of people in our field is figuring out how we can reconnect with what brought us here in the first place – that sense of wonder and curiosity.  Part of what interests me in this video is his discussion of risk and experience – in practical terms one of the most fundamental discussions of our field.  Folks with disabilities identify the risk-aversiveness of our agencies as a vulnerability for them.  Might there be a way to grow and deepen such discussions using a kind of Enterprise Social Network or something like it?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 24, 2014 1:13 pm

    This is great Aaron! Thanks for sharing!

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