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.