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Welcome Mr Hickman July 29, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in chat with us, Meeting.
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Informal meet-up with Jon Hickman at the Station, Sutton Coldfield last night. He’s coming on board the project in some shape or form as it develops. I bumped into Jon via twitter and the Sutton Festival of Arts which he chaired this year. I went along to the festival to take a few pictures but as it turned out, we have a few similar goals in the community / education fields too. Jon currently works for BCU and has worked in the community delivering IT / media training. His background also extends to web design, printing and marketing.

What we’re not using the internet for July 24, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in social media.
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These internet applications,widgets,gizmos that we’ll have at the heart of our delivery also seem to playing a large role in managing the project too. We are communicating project updates using Twitter, we’re using Google Apps to manage everything from meetings and ‘to do’ lists, and we’re planning on using similar stuff to record all our information / evidence relating to the project.

I’m wondering somewhere along the line, when we won’t be able to rely on stuff from the ‘net.

Communities in Control July 16, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in Social Enterprise.
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A new Government white paper, Communities in Control, came out last week and in their own words…
“Communities in control: real people, real power aims to pass power into the hands of local communities. We want to generate vibrant local democracy in every part of the country, and to give real control over local decisions and services to a wider pool of active citizens.”
A few interesting things relating to our objectives, including the proposed £70 million Community Builders Fund available next year and some other third sector stuff. There’s a summary in PDF on the Govt’s Communities web site along with the full white paper and some bumph from Hazel Blears amongst other things.

Tentative titling July 16, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in NBSE, Social Enterprise, social media.
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As we approach more organisations and have more meetings, there’s a reoccurring question that comes up. ” What’s the project called?” So far, each time I explain about NBSE, but now I have made a decision on a project name, for convenience in the first instance. So after a weekend of word juggling, the NBSE project will now be known as “We Share Stuff“. Alas, wesharestuff.com has been taken, but as the project isn’t really after that corporate bling frontage, wesharestuff.org has been secured as the first port of call for the web gubbins. Nothing there yet, but it’s a start to give us a bit of identity. Next up, logo time!

Notes from OCN meeting Friday 11th July 08 July 15, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in Informal learning, Meeting, NBSE, social media.
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I met with Sue Barton at OCN in Stoke last Friday to discuss the project and how OCN fits into the whole set up. Again, the project got the thumbs up from Sue and we found ourselves agreeing on many things specifically around the whole Adult Education / IT / Learning areas. Initially, I was keen to explore the potential of new courses / units based on our Web2.0 platform but found myself having a “a-ha!” moment when Sue suggested utilising the existing portfolio. Having looked at the unit requirements and outcomes I am more than confident that we can use their framework to deliver recognised and relevant qualifications. I am still keen to explore the development of a new course(s) but at this stage of the project, I think the OCN route seems feasible.

First thoughts are that the project aims to deliver the NOCN Entry Level Award for Progression (Entry 3). This qualification has a certain flexibility in it’s delivery options and can easily map the projects aims / issues such as engagement, worklessness and confidence. “These quals develop the skills and knowledge that will enable people to progress to further / higher education or employment” (OCN). Without going into too much detail, each participant would undertake a series of sessions totalling approx 30 hours. In these sessions, they would cover areas such as personal learning programmes, job seach skills, interview techniques, internet & email usage (There are many existing units to choose from and as a project, we need to decide which will be most suitable) but with our project twist of everything delivered using social media / web2.0 applications, including all the evidencing and reporting plus anything else we can think to chuck in to the mix.

So while we have that task to work through, we also need the project to become a registered OCN centre. So apart from the usual form filling stuff, this is actually taking us somewhat down the route of a real structure for the project..marvelous! These things obviously don’t happen for free, but we built in the centre recognition costs into our project startup bid through UNLTD, which we’re still awaiting news on.

The future web by the guy who invented it…. July 9, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in Informal learning, NBSE, social media.
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An audio interview via BBC with Sir Tim Berners-Lee who pretty much invented the World Wide Web. He talks about the ‘semantic web’ which in simple terms is kinda like all the information and data available online being available in one language, so it can be shared by everyone. Some of today’s online stuff is starting to hint at this progression and our project by default will keep track of these developments. It’s these developments that our project will use as a platform to deliver on.

Looking towards accreditation July 5, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in beginnings.
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The majority of training / learning programmes these days tend to require some form of qualification (to show knowledge) and /or progression path towards further development (further learning, employment etc). Our project too will need to show that it has been of use to the participants and if we are to secure any contacts or funding, we need to be looking towards some form of formal accrediation.
To begin this process, we initially talked to Tony Clabby of UNLTD, a startup organisation for ‘social entrepeneurs ‘. He suggested, the Open College Network (OCN) as their diverse mandate would probably suit our project idea. I have worked with OCN before in the past and I also had these in mind.
So after a brief telephone enquiry we have set up a meeting with OCN to look at the possibility of getting our project idea / course accredited and to discuss how it could work alongside other OCN courses, particularly for our potential participants. The meeting is scheduled for Friday 11th July and I will post any updates after then.

Brief project update June 30, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in NBSE, Social Enterprise, social media.
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Not much time this morning so i’ll make it quick and we can elaborate later.

  • The meeting with UNLTD took place on Friday 27th and was very positive and gave us some kind of timeframe in the short term. (more later!)
  • I’ve set up a Google Apps space for the project which will allow us to manage the project a little better from now on. Anybody who comes into the project will get access to this. It’s currently a place for files, ideas, links – just about everything related to the project for those involved.
  • Attended Pete Ashton’s Blogging workshop for community groups last week and gained some useful insights.

erm, that’s all I can think of just now! I hope to update the blog on the above in the next week or so.

18th June Meeting Roundup June 19, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in Call for help, chat with us, Meeting, NBSE, Social Enterprise, social media.
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A meeting was held to discuss any possible direction for the project and we came out of it with a few things to look into. For me, these early sessions are all about gauging interest in the idea and I now think we have a core of people ready to start moving things forward. Last night Kev, Jon and myself discussed a few ideas and straight away, I wanted to highlight the issue of participants in the project. For many different reasons, a lot of people who have expressed an interest in NBSE, simply don’t have the time to commit to what looks like a pretty big project. All three of us last night commented that we too have time and commitment issues and therefore, are looking long term for the project. As we are blogging our progress, it will be open for people to come onboard and contribute as and when. There’s a lot of experience and skill out there that this kind of project would benefit from and we’ll keep the facebook group open for those to be involved as we progress.

Location & transport
One of the first subjects raised was that of premises and location. My initial thoughts were to have any activity centralised at a possible N brum training centre. Both Kev and Jon saw the delivery as being more mobile and definitely saw the project as more of an outreach service. Both, of course, sounds ideal and this gave us something definite to start visualising and forming ideas. Jon then raised the issue of the lack of transport within the area, especially where buses are concerned. This led us to discuss Nbrum boundaries and how far and where we should provide our service to. Task born: geographical area of N Birmingham, council borders, transport links,  etc. Also, places with internet access / courses / training ongoing (libraries, schools, community centres, churches etc)

Content & Delivery
We touched upon how social media taster sessions could work for different audiences / areas such as unemployed, probation, health etc and how we’d use a selection of different applications to approach any engagement / learning / informing objectives. We thought it might be useful to try setting some taster sessions up during the summer at various locations to experience how it could work in practise, so another project task was born: To source local training providers to see if we could possibly run some social media taster sessions or even “piggy back” current courses (hijack the lesson)

Meetings
We have a few meetings lined up to help us with the business side of things. A meeting with Unltd takes place Friday 27th and we’re looking to set up a meeting with some of the NIACE folk in the near future. No set date for a progress meeting as yet for members to get together again, but we will probably be looking at something monthly. Of course we have the internet to keep track of everything!

Bridging the digital divide is about strengthening human networks not internet access. June 11, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in Informal learning, NBSE, Social Enterprise, social media.
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Another extremely relevant debate sparked by Nick Booth (Podnosh) this time addressing the issues of the digital divide. This is a subject which is at the very heart of what I believe the NBSE project will look to address. I agree with most of what is being said in that the focus should be on the communities not the technology but I do have some fears that the wrong people will be rushing to throw their weight behind any potential progress.