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!