Meeting/Workshop Amplification at DMU

How many times have you been to a meeting or a workshop within your institution where group discussions result in flip charts and posters that are used as part of a “reporting back” activity, and then are taken away at the end of the day for who knows what reason?


Way back when, in a real-time computing course I think, I was introduced to the notion of an “atomic transaction”. As Wikipedia succinctly puts it: “atomicity: a property of database transactions which are guaranteed to either completely occur, or have no effects.” Now I’m not saying that meetings completely occur and have no effects, but many of them do seem to be atomic in that what happens in the meeting stays in the meeting, to paraphrase another well known saying…

In a handful of recent posts, I’ve started thinking about how we can soften the boundaries of meetings so that they can become part of a wider – and ongoing – “conversation”, rather than being activities that are located in a very specific time and place (e.g. Amplified Meetings and Participatory Deliberation…, Using WriteToReply to Publish Committee Papers and Backchannel Side Effects – Personal Meeting Notes).

That is, there are now weveral ways where we can widen the availability of papers and discussions both in terms of time (extending the period of time over which participants can draw on and contribute back to meeting resources) and reach (i.e. making it possible for me people to contribute).

Examples of how we might do this include:

– annotating documents using commenting platforms such as WriteToReply and JISCPress;
– capturing backchannel comments and interlacing them with meeting reports or using them as video or audio captions.

Anyway, earlier today I spotted a great example of the use of a commenting platform to extend the life of a workshop via a tweet from @josswinn pointing to a new site at DMU – First meeting.

Commentable documents at DMU

This document summarises the outcomes from discussions in the first DUALL engagement meeting on July 1st 2010 and offers a set of recommendations for the design of an ICT reporting tool. It is not detailed set of minutes but rather aims to present the broad overview of discussion. The full presentation from the meeting is available below. There was an extremely good representation from both the IESD and the Faculty of Technology. For the group discussion it was decided to break into two groups, based on departmental basis so as to allow for discussion on the detailed requirement of each area to be sub-metered.

This document has been published so that you can comment on the outcome of the meeting in detail. Each paragraph can be directly responded to and threaded discussions can occur around each paragraph. To leave a comment, simply click on the speech bubble next to the paragraph.

A few things to note:

– the document is published using the theme on a local installation of WordPress at DMU;
– the document is published on the public web – although it could equally have been published behind the DMU authentication layer (i.e. “on the intranet”);
– the documents are viewable by, and commentable on, by anyone (I think? But I think it’s also the case that comments could be limited to people who log on the blog, e.g. using DMU credentials or single sign-on… so I think that comments could be restricted to DMU folk if required?)
– this opening up of discussion particularly around the IT area should be heartwarming for Brian Kelly at least, who’s been trying to get institutional web managers to share via web team blogs (e.g. Revisiting Web Team Blogs); maybe they should also be sharing policy discussions…?!
– exploring the use of new ICT systems to discuss ICT is a Good Thing and an Appropriate Thing. For example, on WriteToReply, the Cabinet Office have been keen to publish several of their documents (e.g. Government ICT Strategy, Government Open Source Action Plan).

If any other institutions have started exploring the use of the theme and the WriteToReply approach to document publishing, please add a link below 🙂