Monday, October 02, 2006

Future of Learning in a Networked World - Reflections

OK. It’s time to get this down before the thoughts float away in time. People who experienced the whole 2 weeks of the roadshow may even forgotten I was there! But I was there for the first five days in Dunedin and Christchurch. I wonder if what I think and feel now might be different if I’d been part of the whole event….

As Konrad hinted, this was one of the more significant experiences of my life. Not something that I could or would want to forget. A pressure cooker of learning, thinking and relating. I find my thoughts about it all are more about process than content. I can’t tell you what extra knowledge I gained in the sense of hard facts or artefacts or new skills. That’s something of a disappointment actually as I had hoped to sit down quietly in a corner and grill Sean, or Leigh, or Stephen et al. But it just wasn’t like that. I think about how it was, what it was, what we did, what was said, who I spoke to……

It was exhilarating and exhausting (as I think everyone found) – even for those 5 days. So much information was relentlessly taken in, shared, and recycled or created as audio, text, photos, video. Others have written about it taking ages before it all finds its place in the overall – I know it will be like that. But I’ve already had the chance to run a kind of debrief session with some interested colleagues in a workshop back home. After outlining what it was and how it worked I asked the 12 or so present whether they would like to take part in that kind of professional development event and most were extremely amenable to the idea so I think the idea has legs. Not only for larger groups geographically dispersed, but small groups from the same location or workteam.

One of the more challenging aspects for me was to have to surrender myself to the group totally for all my waking hours, and in the case of the Marae, sleeping hours as well! Stephen’s initial comments about groups v networks, and subsequent discussion from others, are all the more interesting in this context. I came prepared to do that – surrender to the group – and consequently found myself feeling much closer to people within days. So for me it was not just an intellectual exercise of processing ideas and discussion, but about managing personal relationships. None of this was hard per se. It’s just that there was so much of it! Relentless as I said. And as a group travelling together in real as opposed to virtual space, I don’t just function as a head or a brain as I might be able to do online. Online there is also personal stuff of course, but it takes longer, and you have a choice about to whether to explore that side of a relationship with someone.

Though I was there for only 5 days I frequently heard, and have since read, how people needed more time and space to process what was happening. We were in a totally networked environment, even when we were ‘decapitated’ with no Net connection. No break for personal grounding. And I hear everyday how people are busy. Too busy. So networking of any kind 24/7 is too much. OK. This was an experiment and we were learning as we went, but next time round I’d be suggesting allotted times for

  • Working with specific others in the group (though many made this happen anyway)

  • Thinking time for processing, creating, and uploading

I guess this is stating the obvious really, but it’s now down on record. I think what I’m trying to say is that we need to be able to model how living the life of a networked knowledge worker/educator can be managed in such a way that there is equilibrium with other parts of your life. That it’s not just constant cognition and personal media bombardment.

Leigh -  for all the driving you did before we all arrived in Dunedin – a huge thank you. You have proved that such things are possible. To everyone else who was in Dunedin and ChCh physically or virtually, thank you for a smorgasbord of media, stimulation, and good vibes.

And is this still the best one stop shop to go to get as much of what was produced as possible? (It’s still pretty daunting for the uninitiated BTW. Will there be a book/CD/DVD?

If you’re interested a few other thoughts HERE

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