In MindMeld Chapter 3: Politics: Flattening Power Relationships, I stressed that both individual team members and upper-level management need to take responsibility to invest in a culture of equality. Instructional Design and Development (IDD) specialists should be placed on a level playing field with the instructor-expert by implementing MindMeld’s communication / professional development strategies.

Upper management should encourage team members to publish articles, present at conferences and work with instructor-experts to co-author/present research. Team members should also be allotted the time to participate in professional organizations, keep up with new literature in the field and attend at least one conference per year.

At our Web Coursework’s shop, we expect team members to spend at least 5% of their time weekly on the Internet researching new software techniques or benchmarking quality examples. An important way team members can establish their own expertise is seeking professional development by attending conferences. Check out the MindMeld list of conferences.

Distance Learning Conference

On August 3-5, 2011, UW-Madison will host The 27th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching & Learning. This conference is one of the oldest and most prestigious related to distance education. It is internationally recognized for the quality and integrity of its program and draws attendance from higher education, corporations and government. Each year the conference provides an exchange of current resources, research, and best practices from around the world that are relevant to the design and delivery of distance education/training.

Welcome Reception Panel

On opening day (8/3), co-author, Penny Ralston-Berg and I will be fellow panelists at the Welcome Reception for new attendees & Orientation to distance education at 8:30 – 11:00am. We will be providing an historical perspective and background on the field of distance education, highlighting key concepts, principles and best practices for effective teaching and learning. Other panelists include:

• William Diehl, Executive Director
International Museum of Distance Education and Technology

• Judith Boettcher, Author, Consultant, & Coach
DesigningForLearning and University of Florida

• Nancy Anderson, School Library Media Consultant
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

MindMeld Conference Workshop

At 1:00pm that afternoon, Penny and I will be running a workshop entitled: Improving the Instructional Design Process Through Micro-Collaboration. During this workshop, we will be discussing partnerships between instructional designers and content experts. Techniques for promoting a more productive and higher-quality design process through micro-collaboration will be provided, including pro-collaboration policies established at the program level.

Through this workshop, attendees will be able to understand what micro-collaboration is and how it can flatten power relationships. We also hope to help them develop strategies for implementing micro-collaborative techniques in their institutions. Our attendance number is up to 30 and still growing.

During this workshop, there will be a new interactive card game based on our book, called “MindMeld: The Experience.” Attendees will break out into teams and try to assemble and maintain a shared hand of at least one asset card of each color representing the 5 factors of micro-collaboration: Structure, Culture, Politics, Performance, and Momentum. “MindMeld: The Experience” focuses on teaching how to sustain momentum during development through micro-collaboration by choosing strategies and assets amid trials and obstacles.

Exhibit Hall Happenings

It goes without saying that I am incredibly flattered to be included in the 30 authors chosen to participate in the end-of-the day book signing at the 2011 DL Conference. If you would like to meet and discuss the concepts covered in MindMeld, I will be at two book signings during the conference. The first will be at the Atwood Publishing booth #206 in the Exhibit Hall on Wednesday, 8/3 from 5:30 – 6:30pm. The second will be at the authors signing on Thursday between 4:00 and 5:30pm in the Exhibit Hall, as well.

As you may know, aside from authoring MindMeld, I also manage Web Courseworks, an e-Learning and LMS provider. We will also be in attendance at the DL conference and have a booth (#602) set up in the Exhibit Hall, featuring three services we offer:

(1) CourseStage: Our LMS for professional development

(2) CourseCreate: Our web-based self-paced course authoring system

(3) Custom course services

Next Steps

As Les Howles, Project Manager for UW Engage Program Collaboration states:

Collaboration is ‘co-laboring’ with others to achieve a common goal. The only nuance is that the relationship is characterized by an absence of positional or formal authority on the part of the participating individuals. In other words, people who are co-laboring influence others in the group through their personal power (expertise, information, and experiences).

It may be too late to book a flight to Madison to attend the DL Conference, but the best way to keep is to follow their Twitter feed (#dtl2011  and  #dtltrain).   I highly recommend following and attending, not only the DL Conference, but other e-Learning conferences of pertinence to your organization to maintain expertise among all those involved in your projects.