One of the most intriguing things about jazz musicians is their unique ability to brandish their individual styles while maintaining a collective focus. Experienced players move in and out of melodies, in tune with one another, in an effort to advance a piece of music in a direction that is meaningful to them, as well as their audience. This ability originates not only by way of natural talent, but through persistence and support from a learning community that shares the same mission.
Imagine, if you will, a novice musician thrust into a circle of virtuosic players and asked to contribute something significant. How would he or she feel? One might venture to guess that such a situation could lead to apprehension, aversion, or a sense of being overwhelmed. Perhaps the newcomer might even reject the offer for fear of having nothing to contribute. Yet, this is how many organizations approach the introduction of new technologies. Employees are handed an instrument, and simply asked to play.
I am a streaming media technologist employed by a large healthcare organization, and I oversee an online media program aimed at enhancing corporate education. My goal is to inspire my co-workers to advance their learning and communication through digital media. Using scaffolded instruction and shared expertise to develop a community of practice, I aim to create a trusting environment in which my co-workers can share knowledge and grow together. Jazz legend Ornette Coleman once said, “It was when I found out I could make mistakes that I knew I was onto something.” Creating a community of learners who are able to think critically about their successes and failures is an important step toward progressive problem solving and expertise. As I hone my craft as a steward of technology, I will continue to improve my approach to leadership and help those around me find their own styles and learn to harmonize together.
San Diego, CA
Online Media in My Workplace
My field of action is a large healthcare organization with approximately 22,000 employees spanning 3 states. My role is that of streaming media technologist.
The purpose of my research is to increase the use of streaming media as a departmental training tool throughout our organization. Early in 2009, our organization launched a “Streaming Media Solution” in an effort to enhance online training through the use of rich media presentations consisting of audio, video, and slides/animations. The process in place was one of direct classroom instruction. Streaming Media Technologists such as myself and my counterpart conducted a two-hour training class for department leaders and educators demonstrating the software and hardware required to create effective presentations. Educators were then expected to check out the equipment and create training materials on their own. Following the launch, the changes were met with initial enthusiasm and high class enrollment, but very little subsequent action. The goal of my action research is to increase the comfort level of these adult learners and encourage them to be more confident and proactive in the adoption of new media technologies.
Training costs have continued to increase during our organization's expansion, and streaming media presentations can be very effective substitutes for more expensive and time consuming face to face classes. Encouraging department leaders to create presentations for online use will help keep the costs of corporate education down, as well as open the door to the adoption of future communication technologies in health care.
Keeping this in mind, I developed an overarching question to guide my research....
If I create a community of practice based on scaffolded learning and legitimate peripheral participation, will it increase the use of streaming media technologies among my colleagues?
Three action-reflection cycles were completed for this research:
My first research cycle found me working closely with newcomers in the field of online media. Rather than taking a “just go play” approach, I played the role of expert in a learning community aimed at collaborative media creation and developing a true understanding of our organization's technological goals.
In an effort to solidify the community, I used the work of my cycle one group as a prompt to engage non-participants. Employees were asked to view the work of their colleagues and think creatively about the use of online media for corporate development and how it might be effective in their departments. Where the first cycle introduced employees to the music, the second helped them develop their own voice.
My third cycle was to develop a Sharepoint site to increase collaboration and knowledge sharing through online media. I've enlisted a small group of newcomers to help administer the site. This group represents the next tier of experts who will assimilate new members into the learning community. The site provides “the stage,” with each performer contributing to the shared mission of the organization.
I chose a method of Action Research to address this question, which is a reflective process of progressive problem solving. To learn more about Action Research, visit the Center for Collaborative Action Research website by clicking the image below.
Harmony and Media in Corporate Education