Open and connected courses/seminars/etc. (such as, #MSLOC 430) can at times be chaotic and overwhelming. Every time I participate in open endeavours I come to a point where I feel much more unglued than I feel connected. I still do not have a good term for these flowing, rhizomatically expanding installation-like happenings that reflect group-thinking and group-learning on the evolutionary edge of the language of the Internet. The closest I can come in English is “gathering” – yes open and connected gatherings – across time, space, minds, forms, and forums.
My unglued, disconnected or overwhelmed interior voice, pops up from time to time and sounds something like this . . . .
“I missed what was being referred to there!”
“I don’t know where to look or what to read?”
“What should I be doing now?”
“If only I could read faster, or if only I had more time, . . . if only, if only, if only!”
Too much is happening, too many platforms, too many threads, too many multi-media mash-ups, tweets, Storifies, blogs, possible readings and watchings and links. The whole “gathering” is too complex, convoluted and dynamic for me or any other singular participant to ever fully absorb.
Sequential navigation techniques (like making a list of what to look at, or making a schedule, or course outline, or step-by-step guide) are not compatible with what happens in open and connected gatherings.
Why host anything that is open and connected?
Why participate in open and connected sessions?
My answer (other people’s answers will vary) is that Open Connected Gatherings are constantly evolving, thus forcing me to engage fully in a sense-making journey that extends my capacity for thinking and for sharing the products of my thinking with others. I am simultaneously a spectator and a participant in a fast-paced process that ends up being a thrilling learning extravaganza and connection-fest (thanks to @SeanAJones for assisting me in figuring out how to articulate this).
My experiences have led me to the conclusion that it is both impossible and inappropriate for me to try to “keep up” or fully absorb what is likely to happen. Unlike conventional “courses” keeping up and being comprehensive is not the point! There are several metaphors that help illustrate the folly of trying to fully absorb all that is available. Two of which are:
- A buffet – great to sample many items, wonderful to be invited to, and foolish to try and consume everything on the table.
- A fire hose/stream – I can drink from it only if I sip a tiny fraction of the flow and return later when I need/want more.
My current guidelines (which are far from static – they evolve and shift every time I participate in a gathering and they evolve as I participate) for experiencing open and connected learning deeply and not becoming overwhelmed are:
- dedicate some time each day to sample what is happening (be kind and accepting of myself when, inevitably, I miss my goal of everyday)
- don’t worry about missing things (if they are important enough they will be mentioned again by my network – this is a collaborative undertaking and other people i.e. my PLN will help me notice when something important occurs or they will inform me of things that would be of particular interest to me)
- focus on connections and constructive feedback on other peoples blogs etc. (ie comment with care and attention on other people’s material, call other people’s attention to items I think they would be interested in – notice the reciprocity here with the bullet above - @tanyalau and Stephen Downes @oldaily helped me understand this)
- offer up my own reflections (they can be short and sweet) via Twitter, or my blog, or . . .
- give credit to others and link as many items and people as I can
- tweet lots using the hashtag (check the Twitter hashtag often)
photo credit: https://coarpk.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/drinking-from-the-firehose/