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George Roberts :: Blog :: Emerge: What's it all about? Part 1

December 12, 2007

Emerge was recruiting. I wrote about it here. People say that it is hard to explain what Emerge is about: even this doesn't do it justice.

Emerge is the name (it is not an acronym) of the support project for the JISC Users and Innovation (U&I) Programme.

Already that statement is dense. Add to it my assertion that the U&I programme can be seen as complex and so, too, its support project and we have a challenge. Top that with using Elgg as the support environment and I have probably scared you all away.

But it is easy, really. And, through the U&I programme and Emerge project there is a real effort being made to transform educational practice. That alone makes it one reason to get up in the morning.

Start with the Users and Innovation programme:

The aim of this programme is to "...transform practice by developing technologies and innovative processes based on the needs of individual users working within institutions across multiple domains..."
But what do you do?" people ask. We try to strike a balance between active doing and what might be called constructive disengagement: staying out of the way and letting it happen.

There is a story. JISC development projects have been heard to be criticised for producing outputs that make little impact. I don't believe this is really true (the JISC Value for Money Report attempts to address this). However, it is heard and there is a reason.

JISC projects could, perhaps,  be described as developer-centred, abstract and institutional, rather than learner or teacher centred, concrete, practice-based and personal. Outputs from development projects may tend to be reports that end up filed, models and pilot demonstrators that rarely are adopted "in anger", and standards, specifications and reference models which may well express best intentions but do not achieve wide currency outside a group of interested people. There is perhaps a focus on outputs rather than outcomes: a focus on producing artefacts rather than building capacity; a focus on quantitative rather than qualitative measures; easy answers and soundbites rather than the deep complexity of institutional change. The U&I programme and Emerge support project is taking all that on.

The site navigation is not perfect, but with a little persistence there is a lot to discover. Click on the Communities link in the right hand navigation panel on the Emerge home page. You will find a list of the ad-hoc working groups that have been set up by the approximately 200 users. Some of these links reveal very little on their "profile" pages (others, for example here, here and here, are more forthcoming). Always look for and click on the "extended profile" link on each person's or community's page. Click on the link to the Community blog on each community profile. Some of these will really reward you.

You will find that groups have coalesced around themes and technologies. Some have used the  site resources to develop project proposals. Others have spun off and used different sites such as PB Wiki or e-mail discussion lists.

Part 2 

Posted by George Roberts


  1. George - thanks this is really useful.


    Marion SamlerMarion Samler on Wednesday, 12 December 2007, 12:53 GMT # |

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