With Steven Scheer and Simon Koolwijk I co-facilitated a training to introduce various tools for e-collaboration at kontakt der kontinenten. Though I had become a little allergic to training throughout my career, seeing little application of all that was learned -and more and more attracted to supporting learning through communities of practice- this day made me realize training can be powerful for learning new things and especially for lowering the threshold for people to experiment with various new tools. We did a virtual team assignment, using a NING platform as an example of a web-based discussion forum, skype as VoIP and Unyte as an example of a screen sharing tool.
It was interesting to see that people got a chance to talk about their use of tools (and that there were a couple of previously unidentified champions) and their anxieties. An important aspect of such a day may be to make use of technology a topic for discussion. One of those anxieties was whether working online would make everything 'faster' again. Another one was about security, fear of spam, viruses etc., but also fear for undesired contacts with the negative connotation of the word chat (the fact that one participant was immediately invited by two unknown men after signing up for skype did not help).
- The reconfirmation of differing individual learning styles. During preparation and testing, noone used the handouts, and I thought they were obsolete. But during the training one participant read the handout completely before doing anything else.
- There are always technical set-backs, so you have to be creative and have plan B. In our case, the ning invitations were never received, probably filtered out somewhere. One champion helped to send it through another address.
- In such a training where online collaboration beyond e-mail is new to the participants, it is important to create a positive experience and help them with the hard parts eg. uploading pictures. Working on a real life case made it interesting, people could see what they achieved in terms of project results, supported by the technology rather than seeing the technology as a hurdle.