The Emerge project is an innovative 28 month consortium-based project. Its primary aim is to support the creation of a sustainable community of practice (CoP) that will develop and exploit new emergent technologies (e.g. social software, pervasive computing) for use in educational settings.
The consortium is led by Oxford Brookes University, and includes the University of Essex, King's College London, Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of Bedfordshire, Glenaffric Ltd, the Association for Learning Technology and a network of leading practitioners. The Emerge team will be working with the JISC to support the development of a community across British further and higher education, involving the range of projects funded by JISC's Users and Innovations Programme.
The aim of the Emerge Project is to support the JISC's forming of an "effective and sustainable community of practice" (CoP) around the Users and Innovation Development Model (UIDM). The UIDM is seen as an essential component within the JISC e-Framework by providing a standard approach to the development of a new generation of innovative, useful and usable web services. The CoP will play a formative role in owning and refining the approach and providing heuristics on the use of the method. The UIDM is not a prescriptive; it is a guide based on the selected use of user-centred approaches. The Guide will be made available through the e-Framework to the wider JISC community and other interested parties.
On this site we will be building an infrastructure and tool kit for the CoP focused on the needs of the project teams who have applied to the JISC to participate in this programme.
The project will support the CoP through specific activities including blended face to face and online community facilitation workshops, seminars and other events. We will be developing UIDM, social software and community tools training events and materials. This activity will be announced through this site.
This programme and project are trying to break new ground. Therefore we are taking a research-led approach based on Appreciative inquiry (Ai). Ai is appropriate within the Emerge project because it is explicitly intended to be productive of positive change and acknowledges that the act of research has a transforming effect on the subject of research. It attempts to get beyond the essentialism, ethical foundationalism and hierarchies of identity politics to embrace a more radical constructionism in relational theory. By applying a rigorous, anti-essentialist, critical theory-led approach, appreciative inquiry can provide a firm foundation as a research method and evaluation methodology (requires log in). We associated this methodology with various techniques and modeled user-centred design (UIDM) in our approach to community development. Thus AI further develops the JISC Users and Innovation Development Model. AI has been used as an approach to organisational change which is based on the premise that (a) whatever you want more of already exists somewhere in the organisation and (b) organisations move in the direction of what they study. The idea is to find the excellence, determine what conditions made excellence possible and suggest how those conditions could be encouraged. We do not pretend to know all the answers about community formation and sustainability. We do know that wide consultation is critical, ownership is essential, and an openness to the unexpected is expected and one of our key sustainability strategies is to have fun. Seriously, we are all busy; there has to be affective advantage to affiliation.
We are looking forward to the project, the emergence of networks, groups and project teams, and to challenging some conventional thinking as we go forward.