Tuesday, February 20, 2007

10,000 Volts at the policing conference!

While looking up the URL for the policing conference for the last post, my eye caught an item in the latest news section of the conference website ...

“We will be using the latest in interactive technology, ‘10,000 volts’, to give you a say at the outset of the Conference about the issues that you would like to see discussed during the event.”

10,000 volts?

The longer the Tazer stun you can take before falling over, the longer you’re allowed to speak from the platform?

Voting buttons under the seats, but if you choose the wrong answer ... bzzzzzz. (Sounds more like Doctor Who, The Long Game!)

“This exciting new technology will set Policing the Future apart from the many other conferences you are invited to, by ensuring that you get the full benefit of discussions in all seminar sessions, not just those you attended, by capturing the discussions and feeding them back into the plenary session.”

So a quick Google turned up the School of Psychology (not Physics!) website of the University of Liverpool, and its Centre for Critical Incident Research (CCIR).

It boils down to an electronic, collaborative, debriefing tool (surprised it hasn’t been tagged as the Policing 2.0 conference), with laptop computers centred on tables arranged in a semi-circle.

“Through collaborative software these computers are networked together, thus resulting in the input information of one computer being shared with every other networked end-user. The debriefing process is ... an electronic focus group, where each delegate is able to type his or her thoughts and experiences into a computer, while simultaneously sharing these same thoughts and experiences with all the other delegates present. In this way, the delegates are able to respond to what their colleagues are thinking, and ideas are constantly being generated and discussed. As the facilitator offers no structure to the debriefing by indicating what should, or should not, be recorded, the outcome is thus an emergence of the delegates’ stream of consciousness (Crego & Alison, 2004).”

So they type but don’t talk. But sitting in the one room. Couldn’t they do this bit from their hotel bedrooms while getting dressed in the morning?

“There is no record of which delegate used a specific computer ... This anonymity removes any existing hierarchies ... and facilitates the discussion of sensitive topics (Clapper & Massey, 1996). The result, therefore, is “a non-inhibiting, synergistic environment in which group members are comfortable sharing ideas” (Clapper & Massey, 1996, p. 44). It is also useful in the sense that individuals are more likely to participate and share their views than they would in face-to-face interactions. Indeed, the level of interaction appears to be fairly equal, thus those who are less talkative in the group are provided with an opportunity to be heard (Easton, Easton & Belch, 2002). Finally, Crego and Alison (2004) hypothesise that 10 KV is both empowering, and has the potential to facilitate a “cathartic release” (Crego & Alison, 2004, p. 224) for the delegates, as it provides a channel through which they can freely and anonymously express their feelings.”

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