The Pattern Language Network

Taming web2.0 in Higher Education

Reviewing our workshop process

Posted by johnrg on September 3, 2008

It was particularly interesting reading the blog posting from one of the participants at the Singapore workshop on August 8th. Our own discussions have highlighted the fact that face to face workshops are the most successful way we have found to support the process of identifying patterns and anything we can do to enhance this process is essential. In the light of these comments I think there are a number of aspects of the workshop process that could be improved.  The points rasied below are an attempt to start more detailed discussions on various aspects of the workshop process:

Confusion over the meaning of key terms: should we provide participants with a glossary of key terms and our intended meaning of them prior to and / or at the start of a workshop?

Introducing elements of the process that are not developed in the workshop: if we provide an overview of the whole process should we make it clear which aspects of the process will be developed in the workshop and which need to be developed after the workshop?

Better visualisations of the process: although the slides have a useful diagram showing the process would it be helpful to collect some diagrams created by participants and offer these as alternate views? The blog post has an interesting mind map like diagram for example.

Supporting the jump from case studies to patterns: several elements of feedback have suggested that a critical but difficult step in our process is to move from the details of a case study to the identification of commonalities across cases and the recognition of potential patterns. Can we provide examples of this – maybe a short video showing how we might achieve this, video clips from workshops again showing other people engaged in this activity??

More in depth discussion in the group activities: can we offer participants a list of ‘typical’ questions that they might respond to when reviewing case studies, identifying commonalities and proposing patterns. This would provide more scaffolding for this part of the process.

Information overloading: the comments seem to suggest that parts of the workshop became less effective because of the amount and diversity of information and links presented. Could we reorganise the process so that we concentrate on the activities and once we have got to a point where participants have produced some outputs then come back to some of the wider references?

Coherence of the activities: we need to ensure that participants follow one example to completion in the first instance (preferably their example / case study) before revisiting elements of the process and extending the range of examples.

Confusion over how to apply the patterns created: feedback suggests that participants would like to have a reasonably clear view of how the resulting patterns would be applied to create problem solutions. We need to provide a clear appreciation of how patterns might be represented as a network and how a tool might be support user choice of patterns to create a solution, their solution. Our view of the framework needs to be articulated  more clearly.

In conclusion: I think that the final comment from the blog is extremely relevant to us:

“All in all, I think the concept and the idea behind is a solid one… more thoughts on how the key components can be delivered and connected perhaps would have made the learning a more effective one.

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