Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Missing links...

It's difficult to see from this photo.

You'll have to take my word for it.

I was attending a conference, the Unicollaboration conference in Krakow.

On the photo we can see Maha Bali, one of the keynote speakers who was over in Cairo.

She spotted me, a rather small head, sitting towards the back of the lecture theatre.

"Come to the front," she said.

"So that I can see a familiar face."  

I gave her a big wave and moved forward.

"Oh hi Simon!" she only Maha can beam.

I wonder an instant.

What sense can we make of a "keynote", a conference "paper" when we know nothing of the people?

What sense can we make of a "keynote" slide, or an academic paper, when we know nothing of the people?

What is the exchange that we are engaged in?

I met Francesca and Steve, keynoters both, in Krakow and we quite naturally hugged.

How is this possible?

I had never actually "met them" before.

To be honest, I have never "actually met" Maha before either even if we have been in conversation for four years...

I had been following a small part of their extensive academic output over the past few years.

I had read their words and felt drawn to them, they became a part of my intellectual world...they became important "references."

In conferences past, I might have eyed them from afar, seen them surrounded by those closer and felt quite apart...excluded from conversations which I feared were way over my head.

I might have eyed them critically.

Missing links...

Well, being somewhat resident online has enabled me to make many important connections.

I have been able to learn from, participate in, contribute to, many conversations over the past few years.

I have wandered around behind my "icon" avatar, my twitter pseudonym, @sensor63 and become partially recognisable in some haunts to which I have become accustomed to.

I have written and created in a way that comes naturally to me.

It is not a genre that I have had to be drilled in.

It is a personal genre which, only the other day I learnt from Wendy Taleo has a recognisable form, that some might call "lyrical essay"...whatever.

I am whatever you call me...for better and for worse.

Missing links....

So there we were with

  • my friend Teresa Mackinnon, 
  • Shannon:Sauro, who I had met in Krakow a couple of years back 
  • Steven Thorne
  • Maha Bali in Cairo
  • Parisa (That's Paris with an a) over in Japan.
Teresa and I have been working together for seven years.
We met online.
We have been back and forwards between our respective countries.
Teresa is an incredibly important linking node in my learning and academic development.
It is no exaggeration to say that I was in Krakow thanks to her.

Teresa was holding the laptop.

I would never have been able to greet Steve, Francesca and Shannon, without  being active online.

I would never have been able to meet Steve, Francesca, Parisa, and so many more if it hadn't been for Maha and Virtually Connecting.

I went back to find the blog post referencing Eurocall 2017.

I find its title ironic retrospectively.

This stream is not online at present.

I add the photo as a reminder.

There is nothing virtual about this moment: Teresa holding the laptop, the beaming smiles of the participants.

There is e(nergy)motion...captured.

Missing links...

I am sorry that I hadn't got to know the human that is Steven Thorne before I started reading his articles, looking at his slides shared.

During the keynote, a couple of friends saw one of the slides from his "set" that I had tweeted out.

They responded to the density of the language and the concepts written on the slides.

They felt quite apart...excluded even.

At this point I add:

“A little learning is a dangerous thing.
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring;
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again.”

― Alexander PopeAn Essay on Criticism

And I leave it here in suspense to see how it might resonate with this stream.

I remember feeling excluded by such language when I had been a university undergraduate.

I brought up these comments with Steve and Shannon during the Virtually Connecting Hangout.

"Well of course," Shannon said "You can't really appreciate the meaning of the keynote if you only have the slides. You need to have Steve who is communicating with all his energy"  
(or words to that effect)

At this point in the conversation, Steve announces to the world: "Yeah, and I am not wearing any pants."  (framed by the screen)

“A little learning is a dangerous thing."

Shannon, rightly, questioned the interest of tweeting out slides without comment to contextualise. 

She is right that if one sees just one slide one might react negatively, and critically, or totally miss the meaning intended.

Missing links....

During the keynote, Maha was messaging us to try to work out what was going on with the keynote, as it was running late.

It maybe stressful to be waiting around to participate with others when there is an absence of information as to what is going on.

I thought of Periscoping the session so that Maha could follow the proceedings.

Then, I thought better of it.

I thought it wouldn't be right to livestream an event without asking the people beforehand.

We spoke of this during the Vconnecting session.

Shannon said she was relieved that I hadn't Periscoped the session.

Missing links....

So, I remember sharing with others following the #unicollab2018 Twitter stream a couple of talks from #OER17. One had been a talk of Catherine Cronin.

In other tweets from #unicollab2018, I could note convergences of online communities, #clmooc, #digped, #alt, #rhizo14 etc.

These convergences I started to find in Krakow, over and over again.

I felt that my various identity strands were coming together and meeting.

I feel that there is a space of action which is emerging.

Missing links...

So, here I am, with all of these links, dots, spaces, places, questions connecting.

I know that I have work to do here.

This is a start.

I am gradually mapping out acts.

(acte manqué...)
I leave it in suspense to return to.

Missing links....

So I thought about live-streaming at #OER18.

What is stopping conferences like #unicollab from doing more live-streaming, from having a more hybrid conference?

So I thought I had better investigate.

How have I learnt for the past decade or so?

Well, I go and speak with those who are in the know....

"Learning is about making the right connections...." 

1 comment:

  1. I've been following you for a couple of years now and what you wrote in this article shows the magic that comes from on-going efforts to connect with others on-line.

    In one phrase you said, "Well, being somewhat resident online has enabled me to make many important connections."

    This morning I attended a MENTOR breakfast in Chicago and was assigned to table 10. As people arrived we introduced ourselves to each other. One lady exclaimed as she heard me say my name "We've connected on Facebook. I read your articles. It's so great to meet you."

    That happens occasionally, but not enough. My world focuses on people in non profit organizations who work with k-12 youth in non-school hours. While I see you and many other educators connecting on-line, as you've described here, I don't see that very much from people in the youth development world.

    That's why I keep sharing Tweets from you and #clmooc folks. I hope others from my field take a look, get curious, and start their own on-line learning journey.

    Thanks for your continued sharing of your experiences and thinking.