27 May 2006

Interested in the History and Theory of Organization Development?

If so, have I got an opportunity for you!

"Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on Organization Development" is a course offered by the Adult Education Department of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, which is where I'm doing my PhD. The original course has been offered for over a decade in physical presence. In fact, it is among the most popular courses in the department, with a wait list that sometimes approaches 50% of the maximum enrollment. Professor Marilyn Laiken (my supervisor), who has taught the course for most of its life, wanted to create a distance learning version of the course, to both provide educational access to those who cannot attend in physical presence, and as a way of exploring and investigating the dynamics of online, distance learning environments for adult learners.

One of the main reasons for the popularity of the course presents the greatest challenge for a distance learning environment: The course is not so much about the content, as it is about creating a learning environment in which students can begin to experience the types of collaborative interactions that characterize contemporary Organization Development interventions and practice. I have been dissatisfied with the conventional, threaded-forum approach to online, distance learning since my years at the McLuhan Program, where I spent a good deal of time thinking about, and experimenting with, the issues of online, collaborative environments. Marilyn's desire to delve into distance learning presented an opportunity to take up the challenge of attempting to create a truly collaborative learning environment that (hopefully) would emulate the interpersonal dynamics that make AEC1141 so engaging, and so popular.

So, throughout the recent academic year, I developed a wiki environment that attempted to translate the physical presence course to the cyber-world for it to be offered to graduate students enrolled at University of Toronto (and especially OISE) in the coming fall semester. An early public sample of a few pages from the environment is here (the real course is a private wiki). I am ready for a test flight of the course that I will be running for four to five weeks through June, and I am looking for people interested in participating as if they were real students in the pilot. Here's what you will be expected to do:
  • Commit to participation for the duration of the pilot, approximately four to five weeks (a normal course runs thirteen weeks);
  • Read the (downloadable) readings each week, which would entail about three to five hours each week;
  • Participate in the weekly activities, that would involve contributing to both small group and large group wiki conversations throughout the week, entailing about three to four hours of time (that is, expect a total time commitment of six to nine hours a week, which is approximately the expected workload for a graduate course);
  • Participate in a group dialogue via a Skype-like VoIP technology (it may be Skype, or another similar service);
  • Freely offer feedback, comments, and suggestions about the process of the course.
What you will get out of the course is:
  • Full access to all the materials for the entire thirteen-week course. These materials span from the turn of the 20th century until today, covering a complete history of mangement thought and the progress of organization development, from Frederick Taylor and Max Weber, through the Human Resources Movement and T-Groups, past early OD and Socio-technical Systems Design, up to the Learning Organization, contemporary OD interventions, and future evolutionary changes in organization design and management (imagine a management textbook worth about $80).
  • Engagement with a group of interested and interesting people who share a common interest in organization development issues.
I will be facilitating the pilot, and Profs. Marilyn Laiken and Yasmin Gopal (an adjunct at OISE, University of Western Ontario, and Athabasca University) will be participating. I am aiming to have only a dozen people participate in the pilot, so if you are interested, please write to me and let me know what background (if any) you've had with either organization development, distance learning courses, or both. I'm looking to have a mix of those with experience and novices, for both the medium and the content.

Update (6 June 2006): Enrollment for the pilot course is now filled.
[Technorati tags: | | | | ]

No comments: