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Ras Albert Williams

An inquiry into my systems practice for managing systemic change (Part 4)

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Edited by Albert Williams, Tuesday, 30 Jan 2018, 13:01

Invitation to investigate the link between Social Learning Systems and Communities of practice and disaster risk reduction and recovery.

Greetings all,

Let me take this opportunity to wish each and everyone of you a happy new year.


With part two of TU812- Managing systemic change: Inquiry, action and interaction, under the bridge, and a heavily thumbed and lined Systems Practice: How to act in situations of uncertainty and complexity in a climate change world.  We turn our attention to to the wider involvement of the systems thinker in the inquiry into to Social learning systems and Communities of practice.

Although  I know that the submission date for TMA 03 is a few weeks away: March 22, 2018, Question 1 (b) asks us to reference sources, and provide evidence that a situation of interest that you have identified as in need of social learning has /is being discuss(ed) The question suggests that third-party perspectives could be obtained from one-one discussions, with family or friends, or in forums such as the module forum or among your peers in the workplace.

What we want to do

In light of this assignment, I am inviting fellow students who have previous experience of being a victim of a disaster, directly or indirectly; or who has been a volunteer in the aftermath or been involved with the management of resources to respond to a disaster. Alternatively, this post is for anyone who has a deep interest in environmental matters, particularly in discussing the issues around social learning systems  and Communities of practice as it relates to disaster risk reduction and recovery.

To begin, here is a graphical representation of the complex relationships between islands of the Caribbean, who share a common boundary of the Caribbean sea  and the atlantic Ocean geographically. However, the social history and development of each island or subsets of islands, within the Caribbean archipelago, could not be more varied on the question of  international relations, and colonial and post-colonial regulatory frameworks that governed how the British, French, Dutch and American governments responded during and in the wake the 2017 North Atlantic Hurricane season. In this scenario, we have many actors, including the survivors and the Caribbean diaspora. As well as a host of  humanitarian organisations and world bodies and agencies.


The Commonwealth of Dominica was struck by Hurricane Maria on the 18-19th of September, 2017 which was perhaps the worst North Atlantic hurricane season on record. I was born in the UK, and lived in Dominica between 1972 and 2004 during which time I survived  Hurricane David in 1979.

Two major hurricanes ripped through the Caribbean with two weeks last year: Hurricane Irma on September 6 which killed over 134 persons and caused catastrophic damage in Barbuda, Saint Barthelemy, Sint Martin, Anguilla. the British Virgin Islands, United States Virgin Islands, Cuba and Florida. Two weeks later, Hurricane Maria, a category 5 hurricane almost totally obliterated  Dominica leaving over 96 persons dead or missing.


1 What lessons have been learned from this hurricane season?

2.What are your views on  climate-change?

3. Is there a case for the intervention of  Social learning Systems in the  Caribbean?

Final thoughts

Below is graphical representation taken from an IRIN News  article entitled Hurricane response: Caribbean disaster agency comes of age.

I decided to share this because it somewhat focuses the mind on on what we are discussing.  I sincerely hope that this thread will generate some discussion of the subject stated above in the days and weeks to come prior to our tutorial  on February 12 where I am looking forward to more guidance on getting to grips with the contribution of Sir Geoffrey Vickers, Donald Schön and others with this very illuminating aspect of managing systemic change.



A schematic representation of how European countries responded to hurricane disaster in the  Caribbean in 2017

                                                               A post-disaster map of Caribbean politics and aid status (IRIN. 2017)



IRIN. (2017). Hurricane response: Caribbean disaster agency comes of age. [online] Available at: https://www.irinnews.org/analysis/2017/09/28/hurricane-response-caribbean-disaster-agency-comes-age [Accessed 30 Jan. 2018].

IRIN. (2017). Hurricane response: Caribbean disaster agency comes of age. [online] Available at: https://www.irinnews.org/analysis/2017/09/28/hurricane-response-caribbean-disaster-agency-comes-age [Accessed 30 Jan. 2018].

Euan McKirdy, C. (2018). Dominica PM: Hurricane Maria ‘devastates’ island. [online] CNN. Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2017/09/18/americas/atlantic-storms-maria-jose-lee/index.html [Accessed 30 Jan. 2018].

IN. 2017)


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Ras Albert Williams

An inquiry into my systems practice for managing systemic change (Part 2)

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Edited by Albert Williams, Thursday, 16 Nov 2017, 20:50


Hello again reader. Here is an update on my latest academic quest with the Open University (OU). Today, I present my findings, reflections and musings concerning my studies thus far on my journey of discovery of this fascinating discipline of Systems thinking and practice. This  this the second installment of my series of blogs entitled, An inquiry  into my systems practice for managing systemic change I began on October 22, 2017.

Prior to the commencement of my reading of the TU812- Managing systemic change: inquiry, action and interaction module material, all I knew about systems mapping was that it was a way of illustrating how various components of a ‘system,’ for instance, general  practitioners within the National Health Service (NHS) related to  the overall whole. I had been introduced to the concept in one or two previous module I have studied with the OU.  Particularly, in T848- Managing Technological innovation of which technology road maps and system maps were a feature of managing technology within an innovative environment.

Specialised terminology

The field of systemic is inquiry is loaded with a host of ‘systemic qualifiers’ of which underscores the seriousness with which ‘systemic practitioners’ are embedded, and with which such terminology aptly defines their understanding of this highly specialised way of thinking. Indeed, Ray  Ison, who I mentioned in my blog of October 23, who is one of the authors of the module’s study guide and author of the textbook, Systems Practice: How to act in situations of uncertainty and complexity in a climate-change world has introduced me a new way of looking at the world, and how the interconnectedness of things, people and places is the foundation on which this academic discipline rests.

Assuming that you, like me, have no prior knowledge of systemic thinking, the title of the course mentions,  ‘systemic change’ and hints at ‘systemic enquiry’. Academics who are involved with systemic enquiry, are said to be conducting ‘systemic practice,  or as mentioned above,  ‘systemic practitioners’ When there is an obvious aberration from a desirable outcome,, it is said to have  been a ‘system failure’. The course team make a distinction between ‘systemic’ and ‘systematic’.

Other terms that  I found that unique to this way of thinking  and that are introduced in part one of the study guide are: terms like ‘social learning systems’ and ‘systems of interest’ and so on. Terms and phrases like ‘praxis-based approach’, trajectory diagrams and ‘learning contracts’, are new to me.

It is the expectation of the course team,  that my understanding of these concepts will grow as the module progress. No doubt, in 9 months time, when I revisit these blogs  I will realise a growth in my understanding and appreciation of ‘system thinking philosophy.

Home-study/ distance learning module

TU812, is a long-distance,  postgraduate module. It is an optional choice for a number of masters degrees. A feature of studying for a qualification with the OU module is the requirement to submit several  tutor module assessments (TMA) and End-of-module Assessments (EMA) which are submitted electronically using the OU system’s ‘Online TMA/EMA Service.

Besides reading the module materials and submitting the assessments, there are usually Self Assessment Questions (SAQ) and a number of activities included for the student to check your learning against the module learning objectives. Activities such as Activity 1.8 below.

Figure 1.0 My trajectory into TU812

The diagram in figure 1.0 above seeks to show the developmental changes that affected my decision to enroll on this module, since this module is concerned with managing systemic change. The diagram also is used as a visual aid to assist the me (the student) to be aware of the influences on that decision and what  I am hoping to achieve having studied the module.

Next time

In my next blog, I will delve more deeply into systemic thinking and the mindset of the systemic practitioner. In addition, I will explore how  I can adapt my newly found learning to addressing my concerns for disaster recovery in islands in the Caribbean devastated by  Hurricanes Irma and Maria this year.


Recovery, D. (2017). Disaster Recovery. [online] Dreamstime.com. Available at: https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-disaster-recovery-red-pencil-circle-around-text-image53108852[Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].

The Open University. (2017). TU812 – Managing systemic change: inquiry, action and interaction – Open University Course. [online] Available at: http://www.open.ac.uk/postgraduate/modules/tu812[Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].

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Ras Albert Williams

An inquiry into my systems practice for managing systemic change (Part 1)

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Edited by Albert Williams, Tuesday, 14 Nov 2017, 03:43


My academic journey with the Open University (OU) began in October 2010. I was first introduced to the OU while I was a union, and health and safety representative for the  Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) which is the trade union representing the workers at Tesco Extra where I work. Besides attending numerous workshops for new reps, I  completed a series of home-study courses produced by USDAW on topics such as pensions, collective bargaining, democracy.  At the end of the course, I was posted a leaflet introducing me to the Open University if I was interested in further opportunities for self-improvement. I enrolled on the BSc (Hons) Computing and IT because of my fascination with digital technology and information communication that had begun to gain momentum in all spheres of human activity since the era of web 2.0.

In December 2016, I completed my undergraduate studies, and attended my graduation ceremony at the Barbican in march 2017.  But for sometime leading up to the end of my undergraduate studies, I had been considering continuing with a master’s degree to specialise in a particular field. My choice was a MSc in  Technology Management.

Albert Williams (BSc Hon) Computing and IT

In November 2017, I began my postgraduate journey towards a MSc Technology Management with the Open University program starting with T848- Managing Technological Innovation. I have since followed this, T849- Strategic capabilities for technological innovation.  These two modules constitute the compulsory component of the requirements of the postgraduate certificate in Technology Management.  



My trajectory into understanding systemic change

TU812-Managing Systemic change: inquiry, action and interaction, is the first of two optional modules needed to earn a postgraduate diploma in technology management. I formally begin the module on November 1st, but the distant-learning  materials and student home website have been available since October 5 when my books were delivered by  royal mail. By this time, it had been 15 days since Hurricane  Maria, a category 5 storm had devastated Dominica–my homeland. 

The learning objectives of Managing Systemic change: inquiry, action and interaction are to develop your Knowledge and understanding of the traditions of systems thinking with a view to developing  vital cognitive skills for use in practical and/or professional situations such as:

  • inspiring innovation and/or creativity
  • providing leadership
  • positions where you have to work across boundaries (internal or external)
  • having to engage others in what you are doing (i.e. building stakeholding) either within or external to your organisation or project
  • developing new policies that will affect a wide range of people
  • managing change of some form or another
  • project or programme development and/or delivery
  • participating in or managing multi, inter or transdisciplinary research
  • interdepartmental working parties, groups, committees
  • policy development or implementation
  • working more effectively with your colleagues and communities in developing your practice.

Extracted from the Open University 2017

Blogging my way through TU812

One of the required activities for this module is to use some form of blogging tool to capture your learning on the subject by the use of a blog or journal. The entries you provide are to analyse module concepts, post initial reaction and to challenge your thinking as the module progresses and according to the  Open University, ” to [Prepare] a learning contract based on systemic changes you wish to manage”

To this end, I have decided to use my blog here on wordpress,  as the principal entry point for my thoughts and reflections, then distribute them by sharing with  myOpen University blog, TU812 forum  and other social media such as Facebook and Twitter. 

Systems Practice: How to act 

In situations of uncertainty and complexity in a climate-change world


 Resources used in TU812 

My preparatory reading of the textbook resources and module website thus far, has given me great insight, and an appreciation of the need, for professionals with specialised skills, not only in innovation and technology in general, but also with knowledge of systems-thinking that can think through complex problems and guide towards an appropriate response.  

One of the biggest challenges facing mankind today, is the threat of mankind-induced climate change that is having an adverse affect on the world’s climate , and is being blamed for catastrophic natural events such as the ongoing North Atlantic hurricane season which has seen large-scale devastation of many islands in the Caribbean this year, including Dominica. 

 Next time

In my next blog,  I will be looking more deeply into module concepts. For a start, Ray Ison and Chris Blackmore, two of the authors of the textbooks,used in the course are also responsible for writing the study guide and themselves are deeply associated with The  Open university for many years. 

In addition, I will also go deeper into what it is that  I, first will get out from the course, and 2, what it is  I hope to do with my newly-found knowledge. 

According to the requirements, this journal is to be updated periodically. So until next time, please read, like and share as you join me in my quest to get to grips with managing systemic change: inquiry, action and interaction. 


Open.ac.uk. (2017). Distance Learning Courses and Adult Education – The Open University. [online] Available at: http://www.open.ac.uk/ [Accessed 22 Oct. 2017].

Ras Albert reasons Information Technology. (2017). Ras Albert reasons Information Technology. [online] Available at: https://rasalbertwilliams.tech.blog/ [Accessed 22 Oct. 2017].

The Open University. (2017). TU812 – Managing systemic change: inquiry, action and interaction – Open University Course. [online] Available at: http://www.open.ac.uk/postgraduate/modules/tu812[Accessed 22 Oct. 2017].

The Open University. (2017). TU812 – Managing systemic change: inquiry, action and interaction – Open University Course. [online] Available at: http://www.open.ac.uk/postgraduate/modules/tu812[Accessed 22 Oct. 2017].

Usdaw.org.uk. (2017). USDAW – Usdaw . [online] Available at: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/ [Accessed 22 Oct. 2017].


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Ras Albert Williams

F36 MSc Technology Management update

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Edited by Albert Williams, Thursday, 12 Oct 2017, 09:04

Hi reader

The last time  i updated this blog was in March of this year. My wife Tempie. provided a brief overview of my journey thus far with The Open University, and my imminent commencement of a new era in my life, the pursual of a MSc in Technology Management.

In November, I begin the study of TU812- Managing Systemic Change: Inquiry, action and interaction

Modules that  I have studied thus far on the postgraduate program are:

I am already booked for the May.2018 start of:

I am on target to complete my MSc by 2019 with:

That is all for now.


N.B: I have since been granted professional  membership of the British Computer Society

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Ras Albert Williams

T325-Technologies for digital media website opens today

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I am so excited. My penultimate module's website for T325-Technologies for digital media,along my path to earning a BSc (Hons) Computing and IT went live early this morning.

This module, https://msds.open.ac.uk/students/…/undergraduate/course/t325 is the final before the Computing and IT project https://msds.open.ac.uk/studen…/…/undergraduate/course/tm470

I am looking forward to sharing my newly-acquired knowledge, analytical skills and scholarship to addressing, not only information technology issues in the Caribbean, but developmental concerns of the third world.

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Ras Albert Williams

T324- Keeping ahead in information and communication technologies

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Okay, so it's time to  update my blog here on  OU. I have been busy getting a head start on my materials for my new module, T324- Keeping ahead in information and communication technologies. The module began on  October 4th, but  I actually received my books and audio/visual material a month before. Consequently, I have a good read of block one, parts 1-4, to familiarise myself with the territory to be conquered so to speak.

T324 deals with topics that its little brother T215 dealt with, so it I don't anticipate any major problems. There are some new formulae to learn though,to deal with.  and like all through this degree, there is always new mathematics to deal with.

In preparation for the module,  I also discovered or rediscovered, amateur radio, and my wife, Tempie and I decided to become members of our local amateur radio club. We have since signed up to do the foundation course in November, then to move on to the more advanced intermediate and full licence. The reason why I decided to give my self the added burden of studying  amateuer radio with T324, is because both seem to complement each other in terms of the studying to the wireless technologies.

Because the Open University is a distant-learning organisation, albeit with some day-schools and face to face tutorials,  I found the rubbing shoulders with the folks at the club, buying some equipment  and reading additional information on radio spectrum and the like, it make the OU teachings come alive, and also supplements my study for the Foundation exam.

Anyway, I'm rambling on... if you care to you could like my  Open University page on  

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/albertwilliamsBScComputingandIT?ref=bookmarks where I share more tits and bits on my study journey.

So until next time.


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