As we close out the first of six weeks of the open section of #msloc430 we are headed into new territory (for me, at least): An attempt at convergence among the open learners and perhaps students in the on-site class section of the course.

The point of convergence is a shared Google document – an outline, really – that I included in the course design with two intentions.

First, I intended to put into practice one of my favorite lines from Etienne Wenger: “Artifacts without participation do not carry their own meaning; and participation without artifacts is fleeting, unanchored, and uncoordinated.” (Wenger, 2010) In the context of social learning systems, Wenger suggests that it is only through this interplay of artifacts (models, words, frameworks, etc.) and social participation that meaningful learning might occur.

So while the #msloc430 open community is already creating a rich set of artifacts on its own, I am also struck by the potential of nudging the community to create something that might require a wee-bit of convergence. The shared Google document is intended have the community pause and reflect for a short moment to anchor and coordinate its thinking.

Secondly, I also intended the shared document to be something that might create learning value for those who do not (or cannot) dedicate time to participate during the entire six weeks of the course. Let me explain.

The course is designed in three, two-week segments:

  • Weeks 1-2 is focused on networked innovations and learning (e.g., MOOCs, personal learning networks, etc.). A shared Google document to define the concepts we covered, point out unique features of each, and list references and resources is to be created at the end of the segment.
  • Weeks 2-3 is focused on networked innovations and work (e.g., crowdsourcing, “working out loud,” etc). A shared Google document to define the concepts we covered, point out unique features of each, and list references and resources is to be created at the end of this segment, as well.
  • Weeks 3-4 are where we look at both sets and ask: How do we innovate even more, by applying these concepts in new ways or by combining them?

My thinking is this:

  • Someone might participate in weeks 1-2 only. They might get real value by thinking through how they define each concept and collaborating with others to define them in a shared document. Same for someone who might participate only during weeks 2-3.
  • Someone who jumps in only for weeks 4-6 might benefit by reviewing the two shared documents created in weeks 1-2 and 3-4. In doing so, they may retrace some of the footprints left by the community as we worked our way up to thinking about the larger innovation question (How do we innovate even more, by applying these concepts in new ways or by combining them?).

Both of these design intentions were informed by lessons learned from the design and facilitation of Exploring Personal Learning Networks #xplrpln.

One of the most commented-on features of #xplrpln at the end of that five-week event was our use of a case scenario as a way to encourage convergence. To take a lot of discussion and commentary and arguing and ask: Ok, so what do we do with this? How do we sharpen our point-of-view so that it might be expressed to someone we want to influence?

The general consensus seemed to be this: We posed some ambiguous problems and questions. But by adding this element of the case scenario we also created a kind of positive tension – the kind that causes individuals to be cognitively engaged.

Let’s see how this plays out, now, in #msloc430.

A short postscript:

I am incredibly indebted to all of the folks who have commented on my thinking-out-loud posts regarding #msloc430. So much to noodle, and to continue sharing. I am truly energized.


Wenger, E, (2010) Communities of Practice and Social Learning Systems: The Career of a Concept in C. Blackmore (Ed.) Social Learning Systems and Communities of Practice. (pp 179-197) London: Springer-Verlag.

photo credit: Nick Kidd via photopin cc

8 thoughts on “Convergence

  1. So basically you wish we had a crowdsourcing experience in co-creating a takeaway of weeks 1-2. That will be a real experience before theory on it on week 3.
    I have the impression that such phenomenon happens best when there is a sense of simultaneous work.

    This real time experience is precisely what GoogleDoc offers as opposed to commenting, or blog posts or dropbox.I’m not sure everyone realized it.

    For myself I would be interested if some tweeps are ready to arrange a time of day to work simultaneously and co-write some parts of it. What about around Friday 22:00 GMT, that’s 23:00 for me, 9:00 AM for OZ, 5PM for ET and 2PM for PST.


    1. Hi Sam – Thanks – Would love to swap notes sometime. Looks like you have an interesting platform w/ Curatr – a good space to be in.

      Wish I could join in your MOOC but am really swamped this academic quarter. But let’s make a point of connecting and sharing experiences. Just followed you back on Twitter.


      1. That would be great Jeff – I’ve already added the msloc430 twitter stream to the activity feed on the course, so maybe we will see some cross-polination


      2. Hi Sam, I have been pondering myself. I love the platform and I’m interested to take a third take with it. I’m afraid of the time clash and I’m already running behind for #MSLoc430. So your registration page is still open. Not yet decided.
        @jeff you should take a deeper look even as a lurker.


  2. Hi Folks, thanks Sam, good to know about the social learning MOOC that you’re launching on Curatr. I think I’ll try and engage with it if I can because you’re previous MOOC about digital curation was ace – although the platform drove me nuts with its gamification. See how we go next time. Helen

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