Three adoption patterns for educational social software

I've been reading and thinking a lot lately about how to drive more adoption of the social learning platform I'm building here at BYU, https://island.byu.edu, and wanted to summarize some of the highlights of what I've learned. All of the patterns come directly from Ross Mayfield and Michael Idinopulos's writings so a big shout out to the great work they're doing at Socialtext.

Pattern 1: Launch Broad then Deep

Organizing University Learning: Moving Beyond the Course to Micro-labs

University learning is centered on the course. A pattern for learning familiar to any current or past student. Students and teacher meet 1-3 times per week for 8-12 weeks. There's lectures, readings, papers, projects, quizzes, and tests.

This, by and large, is an adequate pattern for many learning purposes. But no rational person would suggest this is the only workable solution or even what's best, or adequate, for all purposes.

Deploying Social Software in Universities: Go Broad then Deep

Michael Idinopolus wrote an intriguing post over on his excellent blog yesterday titled "Enterprise 2.0: Skip the Pilot."

I thought I'd repeat some of his arguments because it agrees nicely with an argument I've been formulating lately regarding deployment strategy for social learning software within higher education.

But first to his article:

Reflections on OpenEd09

Wow, what a great conference. And talk about intimidation. I had a mild to strong case at different times of Chris Lott's imposter syndrome. So many brilliant thinkers. But I'm definitely glad I made the effort to go as I learned a great deal. Many of my assumptions were confirmed and many gaps in my understanding were exposed. So an excellent time of growth and learning.

The following is a few of the thoughts I had during the conference.

My educational philosophy

A book I read recently helped me finger out why school can be so irritating at times.

The book is entitled Weird Ideas that Work: 11 1/2 Practices for Promoting, Managing, and Sustaining Innovation. One of its "weird ideas" is that companies should hire slow learners. Not stupid people but slow learners of the organization's code. A code is, the author explains, "a company's 'knowledge and faiths,' its history, memories, procedures, precedents, rules, and all those taken-for-granted, and often unspoken, assumptions about why things are supposed to be done in certain ways."

He goes on to say that most companies hire "fast learners" who quickly learn to do things the "right way" and see things much as others do in the company. But companies that do innovative work need a different kind of worker, one who won't get "brainwashed into thinking just like everyone else. They need people who avoid, ignore, or reject 'the heat of the herd. . .'"