Friday, May 30, 2008

When the network dispersed in all directions

On CPsquare's intranet I've followed a debate around how to wind down, reactualize or hand over a networking community, thought provoking and highly relevant in many cases I think,

I'd like to share my story here, about a two year long project with substantial funding, that I was deeply involved in some years ago. What we were trying hard to promote, develop and support, was only partly achieved. Our launch was quite successfull with a week long online conference where quite many people helped us with their presentations, back stage assistance and moral support in general.

Then, there was a longish and sometimes almost dormant period with rather few active people remaining, but a regular newsletter and a lot of commented links from delicious, and many more contacts leading to other networks, and communities in more or less direct relation to the main theme.

And, at the end of our funding period, we had to make a decision whether to just turn off the handle, delete stuff and skip the contacts, or what. We ended up with a big bang competition, as we decided to spend some of our last money on two iPods (brad new gadget by then) for the best contribution in the field of Nordic language podcasts (which was highly relevant as part of our agenda was to promote usage of the spoken word, in the neighbor language education of the Nordic language education field, across borders and age limits). This event made us get some more attention, as well as a fine wrap up event to show as a result in our evaluation report about dissemination. We also sent out our last newsletter, but still keep the homepage (and the name, with permission to reactivate it some day if opportune, from time to time a few people would tag new stuff and keep a stream alive - promoted and known as our Treasure Chest.

Our Moodle also exists with a shared library of documents and our own reification.
We had a small hope that there would be a rejuvenation effect of the podcast competition, but that was not the case.

And, for my own sake I would say that I really appreciate the learning moments that I have taken away from this period of hard work. We were struggling with the idea that we wanted to "start a community of practice", as part of the leadership team thought we just could, whereas it was clear to me, that unless we were able to initiate and support real ongoing active community practice, this would not work as more than just another network.

A small core group worked hard, and many distributed contacts have come out of all these efforts. The question is what were our success criteria compared to what we really managed to do. And. how we managed to use these for further steps ahead in our respective inter communicative professional lives and future project work.

No comments: