Maha B. wrote a response to a blog post that Susan wrote about feeing hemmed in by so much of her professional life these days, which is made all the more acute by her (Susan’s) online connections in spaces like Connected Courses and Making Learning Connected. She (Susan) wants to find ways to strengthen the connections in all elements of her life. Maha wrote of her own weekend, where these connections did take place and how powerful they were. And then she (Maha) reminded us of how sometimes, online connections filters into offline connections (Terry is offering mail off flower seeds to anyone who asks. How neat and generous is that? How metaphorically connective!)
And so Susan’s words got me thinking, too. While I don’t necessarily think my online activity in places like Connected Courses supplants of my offline professional communities, the work I do here, there, everywhere certainly informs the connections I make out here in online spaces. The exploration and learning enriches other elements my world, or I likely wouldn’t continue with it. (Or maybe I would. Maybe it would be the mooring that I would need to keep going. Maybe that’s what Susan is saying.)
But we all have different circumstances, too. Susan seems like she’s in a place where the ideas she’s excited about have not taken hold (yet) in the place she spends much of her time and energy, and she is feeling a little worn down in her role as the single node in that system that is not quite lit up with the energy of connective ideas.
I was also mulling over these various posts across a single day from these friends of mine (yes, of course, friends, though I have only hung out with Terry in real time) as I spent some hours in a Learning Management System for a course I am now taking on teaching English Language Learners.
Honestly, it’s as inauthentic an online home as one could construct and is in direct conflict to all that I value and love about connected online communities. We (the students in this class) are clearly posting just to meet our basic class requirements, not really engaging in real discussions about how to best reach our students. After a week or two of trying to see if the LMS would work for me, and finding it wasn’t on any level, I found myself reverting to just posting what I needed to post (read this sentence in your best drone voice: make sure you do one post and two responses to someone else’s post before Wednesday).
Susan ends her post by saying, “… how do I create a connected experience for people who are satisfied with boxed macaroni and cheese?” In other words, once you realize the possibilities of connected spaces, how do you settle for something so much less robust and enriching?
I don’t know. But I made a comic anyway. (And I told Susan that, ironically, my son and I had Annie’s Mac and Cheese for lunch yesterday .. ha)
Peace (in the think),