The value of what Keeley Sorokti and I do when we collaborate on such presentations is this: It gives us a structured activity around which we get to reflect on a fuzzy challenge. We are operating, I suspect, in much the manner that Donald Schon gets at when he writes about the reflective practitioner. (See an earlier post on this topic).
But rather than just having a private conversation about this fuzzy challenge (how do we get non-believers to begin the journey of developing digital literacy?) we develop an artifact (in this case a presentation) that we share. Now PowerPoint is not the greatest way to communicate tacit know-how, but if we’ve been successful in our reflecting we might have just hit upon a phrase, a photo, a graphic – something that resonates with our audience (in this case, e-learning designers and managers).
What happens next – after some artifact has been released into the digital world - is what interests me as an observer of social technology and its impact on real practice and practitioners. Shortly after the Technology Showcase a member of the Northwestern learning community (Leigha Kinnear) posted a mind-map of our presentation in an internal Ning community devoted to Northwestern’s e-learning practitioners. James Altman, who is the energizing force behind this community, took Leigha’s mindmap and turned it into a Prezi. You can see it here.
I actually like Leigha’s mindmap better than my original linear presentation. (Thanks, Leigha). Maybe I’ll use it in some other form or forum. But I suspect at this point, the energy around co-creating and exploring the ideas in the presentation will dissipate.
Is it the ideas? The network of practitioners who have access to the content and me? The network’s aggregate digital literacy (e.g., if they are all new to online communities does energy dissipate more quickly)? All of these?
This is an intriguing question to me because of some observations I’ve made participating (and lurking) in MOOCs. In some cases, I have seen much higher energy levels around the cycle of reflection-artifact-co-created artifact-reflection. Things just seem to blossom, more quickly and richly. Not all the time but certainly in comparison to the activity I see around professional events like the eLearning and Technology Showcase.
What’s at work here?