Aug 15 2009

Don’t know where this is going…

Published by at 6:39 am under events,learning,reflection

Chris Lott posted a really important bit at the end of his overview of Alan Levine’s OpenEd09 presentation on Alan Levine’s Amazing Stories of Openness. And lest I forget, don’t miss the recording of Alan’s work. It is… well… AMAZING! I was lucky to be part of the project with two stories of my own, told by candle light outside a Hawaiian beach bar!

The video of the session is great too, because Alan is always engaging and funny. At the end of his presentation he made a comment to the effect that he “didn’t really know what these stories led to.” But that’s the beauty of the shared experiences: they don’t lead to anything. In the same way that we don’t have conversations at a table (or tell stories around a campfire, virtual or not) and wonder where they will lead. Those stories are the destination… those experiences are what it is about.

A bell rang when I read Chris’ words harking back to EdMedia in Hawaii this June. Alan again gave an incredible presentation on “50+ Web 2.0 ways to tell a story.” During the Q&A I asked Alan what I think turned out to feel like a harsh question. I asked what he knew about people’s USE of all these ways of digitally telling a story? What did it matter? How was this wonderful set of possibilities put to use? He replied something to the effect of Gee, I don’t know. I never asked that question. (my memory, not a direct quote!)

I squirmed in my seat, feeling like I had put Alan on the spot. At the same time, I worried about what we preach when we are all excited about something, about the signals that sends out. Does seeding possibility matter? Does fostering hopefulness? Something really stirred but I did not pursue it.

Then Chris comes along and helps me remember about the power of NOT having a destination all the time. Of things that don’t, at least at first “lead to anything.” Amen! Yeah!

Then I read Chris paragraph again and went WAIT A MINUTE!!! Read it again…

But that’s the beauty of the shared experiences: they don’t lead to anything. In the same way that we don’t have conversations at a table (or tell stories around a campfire, virtual or not) and wonder where they will lead. Those stories are the destination… those experiences are what it is about.

I have to pull two things out. Of course, stories are destinations. But shared experiences don’t lead to anything? WHOA! Yes the do!!!! To me, this is the power of Open Education. Of informal networks and communities of practice.  Shared experiences lead to the kind of learning that often rocks my world.  They just aren’t usually directed. We don’t have a plan for them. Yet.

So in the end, yes, often we don’t know where we are going. But dang, we ARE going somewhere. What matters is paying attention.

Phew, I’m glad I got that off my (very congested, noisy) chest!

P.S. I got sick this week and was unable to drive up to Vancouver BC to OpenEd09. (And no one would have wanted to get near me!) But thanks to an active Twitter stream (cool early analysis here) and live/recorded videos of every session (beautiful organizing, team!) I was able to benefit from much of the content and conversation. Yeah, I missed the beer. Yeah, I missed seeing my friends. That  can’t be replaced, but for a distance experience of a F2F conference, this was one of the best. I should probably write a whole post on this, but tomorrow I join up with my Future of Learning in a Networked World pals to continue the FLNW09 road trip. I missed today – kayaking on Bowen Island – due to this wretched bug I have. If you are on Washington’s Olympic  Peninsula, ping me. You can join us for an hour, a day, etc!

Photo Credit: ManojVasanth on Flickr

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Don’t know where this is going…”

  1. Chris Lotton 15 Aug 2009 at 9:06 am

    I can’t disagree with anything you are saying… you are refracting the idea of “leading somewhere” to a larger frame– that having experienced something that “works” (in the many sense of *that* therm) embiggens us, as The Simpsons put it, which increases our ability to move, do love, and much more. I agree with that… what I was thinking is kind of the “journey is the destination” idea, which fits perfectly with what you are saying. I think 🙂

  2. Chris Lotton 15 Aug 2009 at 9:09 am

    Forgot to add: I see it much like experiencing a work of art. One can– and sometimes should– look at a painting seeking to understand its execution, technical style, historical context, etc… but sometimes one just needs to stand in front of a canvas or sculpture and experience it. That experience will take us somewhere without leading us to it. If that makes any sense!

    Wish you’d been able to come to Open Ed– it was a mind-blowing experience (and I can always use a hug from chocoNancy)!

  3. Patti Anklamon 16 Aug 2009 at 5:21 am

    Hi, Nancy,

    You had me at the “whoa.” I always think that sharing experiences leads (in addition to learning) to relatedness. Makes me think that an interesting question for a social network analysis might be, “This person tells me stories about their experiences.”

  4. Lisa M Laneon 25 Aug 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Mini-epiphany at your words: “Of course, stories are destinations.”

    I have been having trouble understanding the enthusiasm for storytelling (bizarre, since I’m a historian and I guess we do that all the time — I just don’t think of them as “stories”). When I see stories as destinations, I’m stuck with the idea that a story just says one thing, or maybe a couple of things, determined by the storyteller. When I see them as a way of “relating”, it’s a little too EST for me.

    Reading your post, I realized I’ve never seen people use stories as destinations. I rarely hear a story without telling one of my own. At first, that seems self-centered.

    In a conversation, one person tells a story. The other responds, often with a story, often a similar story that has elements that overlap with the other person’s story. They keep going, examining differences, finding common ground, playing “top this”, coming to conclusions about the world. Together they create a shared reality and teach each other something.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.
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