Jun 12 2013
On Monday I did a webinar for a group that Joitske Hulseboch and Sibrenne Wagenaar have been leading on social media for professionals in The Netherlands. I’ve posted the slides here. Sibrenne and Joitske posted a summary here.
We had interesting difficulties with the audio side of the webinar. If professionals like us encounter such difficulties, imagine what it’s like for “beginners”! (It has to be said that what professionals like Joitske, Sibrenne and I know is how to quickly move to a different combination of tools when the ones we planned on using fail us.
Joitske logged into Adobe Connect twice: once as host and once as participant — a technique to get at the technical facet of Social Proof. When she’s logged in as a participant she can see the webinar interface and its limitations from a point of view that is normally hidden from the host.
I’ve often thought of taking the chat transcript from a webinar and using it as a start for something like a blog post. This is such an experiment. I like it because it seemed like the group in the webinar was so intelligent and willing to grapple with issues that have a lot of paradox.
During the introductions people described the main issue that the exercise brought up for them:
- Responding to the question of “Where is the learning happening?” is very difficult. It’s hard to pin down.
- Effort to pinpoint influence & learning was MORE difficult when constrained to a shorter time period.
- When Sibrenne influenced how my organization thinks about education, it had big implications.
- Observing behaviors of leaders and of other participants in this workshop [over last several months] — how people dealt with problems that came up — has been a significant influence.
- This exercise prompted reflection on the extent of my development in the last year. I have been inspired to ask myself: what’s my field?
- The exercise provoked reflection on the difference between someone who inspires vs someone who influences. Inspiring and influencing not the same. They ARE very connected, but there was some disagreement about just how much difference there is between the two.
- Some people have a negative influence — for example they are exhausting — but we can respond to their presence in a positive way, making something positive out of a somewhat negative interaction.
- For me this exercise pointed to the connections between social settings and different means of communications. I noticed how live face-to-face and continued online contact worked together.
- Exercise made me reflect on how this course seemed overwhelming. However, observing how other people actually did the course work led me to reconsider what’s possible.
Do we actually learn every second that we are awake? And do we constantly influence others? And don’t both happen at the same time, as long as we’re mindful? Advertising is an example of how we can be influenced when we are not mindful. And some people are even influenced by their dreams. Can we stop being influenced? How? Would we want to?
The idea of following the contrarians in a field is an individual strategy that’s comparable to a group strategy of cultivating community diversity? It’s a good idea to “follow” people (in the social media sense of follow) who are just outside your own area or information bubble.
Social proof is how we use others to determine what is correct (thinking or behavior) by finding out what they do or think. We can be more observant of ourselves and others: how we respond to actions or insights. In a way, learning from others and influencing others is relatively effortless. But it can take considerable analytical and observational effort to be aware of social proof. Insights about social proof have significant implications for the support and facilitation of groups and group activities.
These ideas about social proof clearly have ethical and moral implications.
In an online discussion many people think, “I’m sure others know better than me….” People’s non-participation itself proves something. What something or someone “proves” very much depends on our point of view: different people will draw very different conclusions from the same evidence. That implies that we have to be very aware of our own behavior and how we can influence people in ways that are unanticipated. That means that what people learn through social interaction is continuously changing and evolving.
What are you taking away from this webinar?
- Sibrenne: Keep questioning… yourself and others
- Henriëtte: Everyone is seeking social confirmation in uncertain, new situations
- Esther 1: Influence = learning
- Esther 2: Be aware of the visibility of the periphery, their needs are important as well
- John: I’m thinking about timing. and about wanting to cover more than we could possibly discuss in 1.5 hours!
- Petra: Learning is about where the energy is!
- Ilonka: Influence is a code word for learning.
- Joitske: social proof shows up differently in different technological spaces…
- Yvonne: I love this webinar because it makes me reflect again about designing learning trajectories connected to how we learn/are being influenced as humans. And how biased we are because of previous experiences. And because of the richness of diversity.
- Petra: I’m still puzzled and intrigued about the concept of social proof. And a bit frustrated with the technique. John’s sound is cracking, Joitske is very far away, the Notes are a mess (seems like everyone is writing over one another) and the slides went all over the place!
- Hanneke: the idea of social proof, and the thought that social media influence social proof immensely but I don’t know how.
- Jose: be aware of context, visible and ‘invisible’ reactions and learning, but also different assumptions
Afterward, I got to thinking that this definition of a community of practice might be a useful alternative:
When social proof is dense and is magnified by ongoing interactions, shaping the beliefs and behavior of a group of people, we have a community of practice.