Balancing Identity, Community & Trust

Whether we like it or not the Internet is changing how we see ourselves and how others see us. This post isn’t about the rapid pace of technological change but rather how this change is affecting how we communicate, form relationships, and trust one other.

Social Networks are not new but the need to architect your communities within these networks is. What happens if you ignore this evolution? Imagine everyone you know getting together in one big room with a giant display screen behind them advertising some of the most private details of their lived experience. A birthday party, the death of a parent, the personal impact of a recent natural catastrophe.

Some of these events you may want to share with everyone but mostly you want to target your message to specific people in your community. Before social media this concept was referred to as back room and front room conversations and was easy to manage. Social media has broken down the walls between back room and front room conversations and opened a window into back room behaviors.

What you need to know is that social media can be designed in a way to strengthen our broader relationships in a way that is manageable. This introduces the concept of trust and managing our trust relationships.

I found the following presentation through a tweet and it’s probably one of the most clear and comprehensive explanation that I’ve come across about the importance of architecting your social network and of understanding the underlying trust relationships. It’s written from a designer’s perspective but is relevant to individuals and businesses alike.

Synergy: Business Intelligence Communities of Practice & Learn 2.0 Strategies

Corporate e-learning is not a new concept in the workplace but strategies must evolve to keep up with the increasing proliferation of web 2.0 technologies. (Berry and Moore, 2008). Corporations are moving to leverage from the latest technological advances and in so doing are shifting to a Learn 2.0 paradigm. Learn 2.0 is adding to the long established benefits of e-learning of reduced costs, learning on demand, and formal training assessments by facilitating new opportunities for corporate community collaboration, knowledge construction, and peer assessments. These new benefits have a lot of value to the community of learners that make up the Business Intelligence Community of Practice (CoP).

The BI CoP instructional designer can leverage from the Corporate Learning Management System (LMS) to develop re-usable learning objects and by using learn 2.0 strategies can enlist the community to personalize training by developing microcontent thereby keeping information current, soliciting ongoing feedback, and building stronger relationships using internal forums, wikis, and expert blogs. (Bersin, 2007).

To gain the most in synergistic effects, the social network of learning can and should extend outside the corporate walls to take advantage of the expanded learning community that social networking affords. For example LinkedIn has evolved into a wealth of knowledge content with groups such as the Business Intelligence Group, The Data Warehouse Institute (TDWI), and Visual Analytics, all with on-going discussions where knowledgeable experts weigh in on the latest problems posted by their peers. RRS feeds and Twitter links provide additional content and integration across applications. Embarking on a shift to Learn 2.0 can be done well when following an established model like the one developed by Joost & Yap (2010). Their model describes how workplaces can take advantage of the social technologies to engage employees, build relationships, and enhance learning.


Berry, K. & Moore, D. (2008). IBM virtual education center. In Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2008 (pp. 602-606). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved online Feb. 27, 2011 from

Bersin, J. (2007). Top trends in e-learning and corporate training. HR Magazine. Retrieved online Feb. 27, 2011 from:

Robben, Joost & Yap, Robin (2010). A model for leveraging social learning technologies in corporate environments. Proceedings of Network Learning Conference 2010. Lancaster, UK, Retrieved Feb. 27, 2011 from

BI vs BA

In Unplugged, a recent article in the Information Management Magazine, George Shen asks whether Business Analytics (BA) is overtaking Business Intelligence (BI). This question seems only poised to get our attention because what Shen is really promoting is the need for an analytics oriented BI architecture that would incorporate better advanced analytics and modeling. I don’t think he’ll find too much opposition to that pitch. However, I do see a problem with the placement of the Advanced Analytics before the business semantic metadata layer. Shen is clearly not unaware of the problems with data cleanliness nor is he a stranger to the challenge of more user friendly design. However, in the article I don’t see a connection between these two problems and the need for a well developed business semantic layer or an indication that the layer is required to be accessed by the advanced analytics tools. Shen places BA beneath the semantic layer and only shows a push upwards. The other problem with the architecture diagram is the lack of emphasis on data that is external to the corporation. Even though Shen discusses examples of valuable data available outside the corporation he does not show how this would be incorporated into the architecture.

I like Shen’s statement “BA needs to be integrated and embedded in business process to be effective”. Too often we see that this is not the case and training for Business Analytics is divorced from the business process. Business Intelligence systems are often a very small percentage of the budget of a much larger ERP project and as such is treated much like an after thought. To compound the problem training is often treated as an IT function and provided as ‘systems training’ with an emphasis on standard reporting. There is often very little done to make the learning experience authentic by situating it within the current business process and relating it directly to real business problems. While I agree with Shen that the BI vendors need to step it up a notch in terms of their offerings and integration of advanced analytics, I think there’s an even bigger problem with the typical BI training approach.

Social Media & Collaborative Knowledge Building

Strategies & Challenges in using Social Media

The UBC Masters of Educational Technology program is a strong collaborative environment for learning. One collaboration tool that is emphasized is the Wiki. Although I am a fan of using Wikis, I can’t say that I find collaborating within them intuitive or easy. One thing that I’ve noticed is that it really helps to make use of the discussion page to describe your thoughts on what you have changed or what you think still needs more work.

Working with Wikis is something that takes a lot of practice to get good at. It takes some amount of confidence to go in and modify someone elses work without first getting their permission to do so. By virtue of working within a Wiki you give others permission to modify your work but it is still a little uncomfortable for me.

I thought it would be good to share the top strategies that we came up with as part of one of my classes for the benefit of anyone thinking about incorporating social media into their Community of Practice. These were developed over a week within a group Wiki and demonstrate the potential for the tool to support collaborative knowledge building. I have tailored some of the points to adapt them to CoPs rather than just academic learning environments.

5 Strategies for using Social Media

  1. Enhance a lesson by reaching learners through a multitude of learning styles; for instance, visual, tactile, and auditory
  2. Capitalizing on the way that learners already communicate during their daily lives and use social media to enhance their learning.
  3. Utilize the wisdom of the entire group to progress collectively to a greater destination than what they could have achieved on their own.
  4. Research other training uses of social media to determine the advantages of field tested group learning techniques.
  5. Teach digital etiquette. Discuss public identity management and the appropriate time and use of technology, privacy, copyright, and flame wars.

5 Key Challenges in using Social Media:

  1. Navigating through copyright and plagiarism issues and how these issues apply to the read/write digital culture
  2. Supporting learners with limited computer and/or internet access at home or in work so that they are not marginalized
  3. Providing another platforms to network while yielding sufficient training outcomes without negatively impacting individual learning goals
  4. Ensuring social media sites terms of service and corporate privacy policies are followed and kept apprise of by the CoP’s administration team.
  5. Navigating the legal, social and organizational ramifications of using social media between learner and teacher.

If you are interested in developing a Wiki to build knowledge within your Community of Practice then you might want to check out:

If anyone has a Wiki platform that they would like to share – please leave a comment and I will add the site to the technology page.