We can work it out –online! Cyberweek 2011.

Noam Ebner, Assistant Professor and Online  Program Chair

You’d think I’d be over getting amazed at how real, intense and engrossing online interactions can be. After all – after years of mediating online, and teaching online, designing online processes and writing about relational effects and negotiation aspects of online interaction, I should really internalize the power of the online and the ability of skilled people to humanize it.

Still, Cyberweek always manages to have me shaking my head in amazement (in real life, not some kind of avataral head-wagging). Hosted for the second year in a row on ADRHub, the ADR portal and networking site set up and run by The Werner Institute for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution at Creighton University School of Law, Cyberweek’s program offered participants three major types of venues: asynchronous discussion forums, live streaming video webinars and off-site activities.

22 forum discussions were facilitated by 27 ODR experts, and the ability to partake in all of them was a great advantage over typical face-to-face conferences, in which I’ve often sat in a room wishing I could split myself and send my other half into another talk being given in a concurrent session.

This Cyberweek offered 12 live webinars given by 20 presenters. Each had a lively real-time turnout of 15-25 participants – but even more impressive is that the archived recordings have been viewed over the past couple of weeks by over 300 people!

We’re still looking forward to hearing the winner of the ABA’s Dispute Resolution Section’s ethics contest, and winners of the Smartsettle contest can be found here.

It’s hard not to mention numbers, once I’ve started, especially when they are so positive! This year has seen a record number of participants in both the English-language site at and in the Spanish-language site. Cyberweek in English and in Spanish (hosted at ODRLatinoAmerica) had over 750 registered participants! Add in the lurkers and the unregistereds (Hi all, I wish we knew who you were and thanks, Google Analytics, for providing us with a number at least!) that number doubles to over 1500  participants that we are aware of. The ODR community is steadily growing – and expanding: Participants hailed from over 60 countries around the globe!

 

What was new, this Cyberweek?                                           

Last year’s Cyberweek was noticeably marked by the transition from text forums and phone conferences to live video webinars. This year cemented that transition. However, this year saw Cyberweek expanding into new media:

Cyberweek coincided with the launch of the new website at ODR.info, ODR’s main portal.  Pattie Porter took Cyberweek onto internet radio, by hosting a panel comprised of Dan Rainey, Colin Rule and myself to discuss issues of ODR. Finally,  the first-ever Cyberweek Twitter-chat took place this year, with Jeff Thompson and Jason Dykstra hosting the opportunity to hold live discussions on ODR in thoughts condensed to 140-characters-or-less. This, after #Cyberweek2011 became very recognizable in the Twittersphere as the conference approached

So much planning and partnership goes into setting Cyberweek up, that it’s hard to look back and say who suggested this, who did that and who improved the other.  Many individuals and organizations lend a hand, either organizing individual forums or webinars or dedicating time and resources to planning, creating and maintaining the conference. Just to mention some of the organizations involved: The National Center for Technology & Dispute Resolution has always been behind Cyberweek, and The Werner Institute led the organization and hosting of the conference. Modria.com, the Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar Association, TheMediationRoom.com, the Internet Bar Organization and SmartSettle.com have long been partners in organizing the activities and new and welcome additions this year were NetNeutrals.com and Sea Change Simulations. Dr. Alberto Elisavetsky and his ODRLatinoAmerica network are to thank for half of what Cyberweek is! There may be others I’ve forgotten (sorry), and many individuals invested time and effort – you can meet them by going through the conference area – our thanks and appreciation. One person who deserves singling out, though, is Bryan Hanson, Assistant Director of the Werner Institute. The best way to describe what Bryan did for Cyberweeek2011 is to say that he is the person who kept all the balls in the air, all the time.

 

Can we still get in on it?

Some Cyberweek conversations are still going on, and the week’s entire content – forums, videoconferences and activities – are archived forever on ADRHub. Several groups of practitioners have expressed interest in keeping conversations going, or in forming permanent ‘groups’ on ADRHub for information, resource and idea –sharing. Which brings me to expand that into a couple of open invitations:

  • Want to form a group area for discussions on a particular topic? Looking for a virtual ‘space’ where you can house a group, a conversation, a peer-group, a document repository? On ADRHub you can form a private members-only group area or kick off an open forum discussion.
  • Want to run an ADR-related online conference? Using Cyberweek as a model of one way to do things, you can organize an online conference for your ADR organization on ADRHub.

Both of these are very, very easy; talk to us, and we’ll help you set them up.

 

And one last thing…

Cyberweek’s opening webinar, given by The Werner Institute’s director Arthur Pearlstein was on Happiness, Conflict and Social Networking. This talk on touched on the value of networks, not only in a strict professional sense but through the perspective of how do our networks affect our tendencies towards (or away from) conflict, and our overall sense of wellbeing. This offers the opportunity to note something that got cast into shadow by the Cyberweek juggernaut of activity on ADRHub - somewhere during the lead-up to Cyberweek, ADRhub blew past the 1000 member mark, and is steadily on the rise. Pose a question, or share a story, and reach over a thousand members of the ADR community!

With Cyberweek ending, many folks needed to say ‘Ok, back to the real world’. Lucky me – I teach online, so it’s just a matter of alt-tab –ing to another screen. Still – it’s hard to leave it behind, in a sense - it was, all around, a wonderful experience which colored an entire week.

One last thing: just wait till next year.

Noam 

 

***************************

 Noam Ebner

Assistant Professor and Online Program Chair
noamebner@creighton.edu

 

Noam received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in law from Hebrew University. Originally from the U.S, he now divides his time between his home in Jerusalem, Israel and his teaching, training and consulting activities in the U.S. and abroad. After practicing as an attorney, Noam shifted focus and established Tachlit Mediation and Negotiation, which deals with a wide spectrum of issues, including commercial, divorce, business partnerships and employment disputes. In addition, Noam trains mediators for the Israeli court system, conducts corporate training for the private sector and consults to several community mediation programs. Before joining the Creighton faculty, Noam taught conflict resolution and negotiation at universities around the world. He is a regular visiting professor at Sabanci University in Turkey, and a senior fellow and visiting professor at the United Nations? University for Peace in Costa Rica. His research and writing focus on negotiation pedagogy and on negotiation and mediation processes conducted online.

 

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