Collaborology 2016

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Global Education Futures Forum, Inter University Centre Dubrovnik and Knowledge Federation are pleased to offer this transdisciplinary exploratory action-oriented flexible learning course in collaborology to international graduate students, executives, policy makers, activists and IT and media professionals.

The Introductory week at the Inter University Centre October 1-9, 2016 will provide high-level introduction with a wealth of resources relevant to the core areas of the subject matter. We will at the same time draft alliances, and begin projects that will continue throughout the semester.

The Collaborology design is currently defined in terms of design patterns and a way to weave them together into a coherent and well-functioning whole (the current prototype). In keeping with the standard practice in Knowledge Federation, we create a transdisciplinary community of researchers, developers and other stakeholders around the course prototype, to update it continuously. In particular, the Collaborology course is a direct result of the insights and knowledge resulting from the work of the Global Educational Futures Forum. Hence both the format and the content of the course are fluid and evolving — to reflect the current state of the art in coursemanship, and manifest and inspire the spirit of co-creative change.


Why ‘Collaborology’

As competition has been the source of rapid industrial growth, but also of manifold global issues and (yet to be seen and understood) enormous systemic inefficiencies and deficiencies — so is collaboration likely be the theme underlying global recovery, and the creation of a new and thriving human economy and culture.

Furthermore, collaboration serves as an umbrella term uniting some empowering visions that we want to serve and continue: Vannevar Bush’s vision that suitable technology might enable us to create, organize and share knowledge collaboratively, where people divide and organize their work in the manner of the cells in a single mind (‘as we may think’) Doug Engelbart’s vision that networked computer technology — when combined with suitable social processes of course — will enable us to effectively collaborate and catch up with our increasingly complex and urgent issues Bucky Fuller’s vision that the difference between a dying and a thriving civilization (marked by the ‘end of scarcity’ and all this might entail) will be made when we learn how to collaborate instead of competing (in politics, business and other domains of human activity)

On a more immediate-pragmatic note, ‘collaborology’ includes a variety of new and hot technology-enabled organizational schemes, movements and ideas such as open innovation, collective sensemaking and knowledge federation. And not the least the enabling technology.

‘Collaborology’ comes across as natural yet intriguing. People tend to like it. The term’s been coined by Sam Hahn, and he might even own the corresponding Web domains.

Design Patterns

The current design patterns, ordered from general to specific, include

  • Renaissance spirit. Entangled in rigidified patterns and organizational structures, the university as institution (as so many other institutions!) is increasingly growing out of sync with contemporary realities. We consider this to be an uncommon opportunity for playfully responsible collaborative co-creation. In education, more than anywhere else, the medium truly is the message. We undertake to develop a learning environment that is in the best sense future oriented and transformative. We don’t collaborate only to collaborate — but to make a difference that makes a difference.
  • Best academic standards. To make the best out of the mentioned opportunity, we in part revive and in part reinvent the best academic standards. Think of the original Plato’s Academia being reborn in Dubrovnik, closely similar in spirit, yet entirely new in outlook. Creating a state-of-the-art educational projects will enable us to publish excellent academic work, be visible and recognized, and make an impact.
  • Education for game-changers. All learning processes and the outcomes to which they lead must be life affirming. Connection between development of skill(s) & knowledge, development of an application / project, and personal development - there is should be no difference / boundary between what people learn about subject, about its application in life, and about their own lives - i.e. integral approach. Practicing different forms of  awareness - from reflective practices to body-mind centering - being able to tell what & how one is, defining one's one deficiencies and interests, a starting point of collaboration. All forms of learning seek to weave four dimensions of conviviality (either simultaneously or through the course of learning a given subject): the intra-personal dimension, the inter-personal dimension, the trans-species dimension, and the trans-generational dimension. We mix in some transformative aspects of Paulo Freire’s transformative educational ideas as well.
  • Active, lifelong, personalized, situated, collaborative, self-directed, project-based, reality-based, just-for-me, just-on-time learning. Project-based learning - seen as one of the best way to connect theoretical & applied knowledge, and one of the best to retain both knowledge and motivation for learning. Real life problems and real outcomes; the more relevant the coursework is to the real experiences the better. Also - the course is able to make impact as it goes. This is part of John Dewey's pedagogical philosophy which we largely share; teamwork - if this is about collaboration, people need to collaborate, naturally connection between development of skill(s) & knowledge, development of an application / project, and personal development.
  • Technology-enabled collaboration is both taught and experienced. We engender an in-depth and broad study of online and offline collaboration technology (where this word is understood in a broadest sense), but not for its own sake. The co-evolution of technological and human systems opens up vast new opportunities for both. Information technology finds a new life and meaning when used to empower collaborative systemic change (systemic innovation).
  • Knowledge federation. By being internationally federated (co-created, in both format and content, by experts and students internationally, and offered to learners worldwide), the Collaborology course will manifest the advantages of online collaboration (knowledge federation) in a plastic and palpable way. We avoid wasteful duplication — where everyone creates their own version of the course; and disintermediation — where someone creates a course for thousands of students, and drives everyone else out of business. The economies of scale thus created enable a vast concentration of skills and resources on each task, and the use of state-of-the-art immersive and other technology.

Current Prototype

We envision the following initial course design. The way this design manifests and weaves together the above design patterns should be apparent.

  • Instead of instructors, the course has a network of mentors, some of which will be present in Dubrovnik. The mentors contribute modules — areas for which they have special expertise and affection. The mentors may be academic or system design or business and other experts. One of the strong points of the course is to create a synergy between the academic and the real-world issues, knowledge and work. While the work on distinct domains is of course collaborative, specialization enables the economies of scale and other obvious advantages.
  • Instead of a fixed syllabus, the course offers continuously growing learning resources organized around a domain map, which provides distinct views and levels. The top level provides a mountain top-like overview of the entire domain. At the beginning the students are brought, metaphorically speaking, to the ‘mountain top’ from where they can see the entire domain, learn the essentials that are shared by everyone, and make an informed decision about the self-directed part. Each student brings a domain map to the exam — showing what areas have been visited and learned, and what themes the students will be ready to talk about in depth.

The course begins for one week in Dubrovnik, starting with a social day Sunday and ending with a social day Sunday (where, as we have experienced, best aliances tend to be forged and best creative ideas tend to emerge). Atmosphere and vistas of Dubrovnik serve as a catalyst.

  • The course begins by a brief and crisp one-hour course re-design — based on the current prototype and last generation students’ recommendation; it ends by creating a recommendation for further redesign (the current design can of course be simply accepted). In keeping with Doug Engelbart’s philosophy, the lectures and conversations are recorded, hence they may or may not be repeated in the future.
  • The first four work days in Dubrovnik (Monday to Thursday) are dedicated to covering, and updating the high-level view. The teaching style is a combination of lecturing and dialog; but not the conventional lecturing. The mentors provide overviews of their domains, sharing what’s in there and their excitement for it. The conversation that follows helps everyone understand how it all fits into a larger picture. In this way we collaboratively co-create and continue to update the collaborology domain, and offer it to the next generation. The systemic value of this strategy for the causes championed by the Collaborology course cannot be overstated.
  • The last two work days in Dubrovnik (Friday and Saturday) are dedicated to project creation and beginning. The participants as well as mentors brixpace for synergy between applied and academic challenges and ideas opens up, as transdisciplinary international project alliances are forged.

Often the projects will be researching, and federating a domain of knowledge, and putting the resources on the map. In this way a knowledge-work ecosystem is created, in which students have an essential role. Hence the students are learning by contributing. The organization of learning resources, across domains, that Bush urged us to develop, results naturally. The projects weave the tissues of a new “nervous systems of our various organizations” that Engelbart envisioned.

Role of Collaborology within Knowledge Federation

If we bear in mind that the purpose of Knowledge Federation is to structure and streamline the work on the knowledge federation frontier i.e. to bootstrap a certain kind of social-systemic evolution, then the Collaborology course has two key roles that must be distinguished and emphasized:

  • Collaborology course as an internationally federated educational project acting transformatively upon a knowledge work subsystem that is of highest strategic importance — namely education; the course showcases, and hence explains knowledge federation, makes it palpable and real (here we think of KF as an active evolutionary or re-evolutionary movement in knowledge work, transforming the systems)
  • Collaborology course as a strategy to federate the resources (evolve the domain map) relevant to knowledge federation (here we think of KF as a transdiscipline, a custodian of knowledge relevant to a topic)

Venue and Its Advantages

It is difficult to even imagine how this sort of course could be organized within an existing university. It is equally difficult to imagine it outside of the university structures. This is why the Inter University Centre Dubrovnik offers unordinary advantages.

Established by Croatian physicist, humanist philosopher and university rector Dr. Ivan Supek in 1972, the Inter Unviersity Centre Dubrovnik was conceived as the place where scientists and humanists from the political East and West could meet and federate ideas across the Iron Curtain (they were all able to travel and come together in Tito’s non-aligned Yugoslavia). The center now offers a meeting space to researchers and students from its member institutions, which include some 170 leading international universities. The center offers accredited courses to the students from its member universities — with the final stamp for each participating student being given by a collaborating faculty member from the student’s university of course. The IUC events are, however, available to general public as well, not only to registered students. Over the years we have developed a relationship of trust and collaboration with the IUC leadership, which gives all the freedom we’ll need, within reasonable limits we’ll of course be eager to respect, regarding what our educational project will be like.

In Dubrovnik, we have been fortunate to find and further develop an inspiring, transformative environment. Behind the center is a cypress grove that extends to the Adriatic Sea. Dubrovnik is a Renaissance town and a historical monument on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The town has a well-connected international airport. For social interaction we have Villa Doda – an authentic Dubrovnik villa with terraces and a garden – for exclusive use. Special rates for participants are arranged in five-star Hotel Argentina. Family-owned restaurants Sesame provides authentic local cuisine.

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