A refreshing way of running a committee meeting

alt logoI had an interesting day yesterday in Birmingham at the #ALT (Association for Learning Technology) Joint Optional Committees and Strategy meeting. ALT is the UK’s leading membership organisation in the learning technology field. Its purpose is “to ensure that use of learning technology is effective and efficient, informed by research and practice, and grounded in an understanding of the underlying technologies, their capabilities and the situations into which they are placed”.

AT the meeting one of the main tasks of the day was to evaluate and comment on the current ALT strategy to ensure that it is up to date and represent what ALT intends to achieve.   Have you ever attended a committee meeting?  Sometime you may feel unproductive due to two possible reasons: it either has endless discussion no conclusion or discusses things that have already been decided.  I may talk about the extremes here.  Nevertheless, people are not very keen on committee meetings despite their importance.

Today’s meeting, however, was refreshing.  I felt it was due to the following reasons:

  • Open and listen

Members of the committee are given equal and enough time to comment on the strategy. ALT has an open attitude about the discussion: members can vote the items in the document as keep, modify or remove.  ALT promises to work on the strategy based on comments made by the committee members.   ALT sees itself as an organisation that is owned by and for the members.   Allowing members to voice themselves and listening to their feedback made the meeting lively and productive.

  • Constructive: as the current strategy was produced by members of ALT, the comments on the strategy is critical but constructive.  The discussion provided useful information for ALT to work on the new strategy.
  • Talk the talk and walk the walk: as a charity with only a handful of employees, ALT has been doing a great job to supports members and member organisations by working collaboratively with the members to make full use of their expertise.   To demonstrate, evaluate and reflect on this working approach, the committee meeting yesterday took the same approach to work with the committee members.

A number of important points discussed at the meeting, two of which stood out to me:

  • ALT tries to make use of social media in a more systematic and coherent manner.  Currently ALT uses Youtube and Twitter. Google+ and Linkedin are on the card.   The argument for using Google+ is to easily integrate Youtube and Google.  This may help to make ALT and its community activities more visible and discoverable.
  • Another point raised and discussed throughout the day by different operational committees was how best communicate with the existing and perspective members about what ALT is and the values and benefits of being in the ALT community.  I think these are the two questions that any organisation or even individual should ask and be clear about.   It is about who we are and what we do for the others.  This is the very first barrier that an organisation or a person needs to overcome before anything else is even considered by the people that we serve.  That, I would call it a critical necessity to success.

More information about ALT:

Currently ALT has as members over 900 individuals and over 225 organisations, including universities, colleges, Government departments, agencies, and software, hardware, and e-learning businesses.

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