Yesterday i was able to gather a group of people together in the Poetry Cafe in London to celebrate the 500th post on the blog. It was a chance to discuss a range of contemporary subjects in learning and a chance to meet people from various parts of my social learning network. And i had a great time.
I describe social learning as ‘the semi formal layers that surround formal learning’, and this was certainly social: we had an agenda, but it was the creation of a shared narrative that excited me. I was able to take a whistle-stop tour through some of the things we’ve covered over the last two years: articles about the importance of making small mistakes, about graffiti, about new iPhones and their impact on social learning, about methodologies and mindsets, about Google and grandad, about organisational culture, the meaning of knowledge and why a good book is still important. To name but a few.
Some ideas have developed, have thrived. They’ve been befriended and taken out for meals, exhibited at conferences and in workshops and treated to multiple outings. Others have quietly withered away. It’s a Darwinian process, thinking. I’ve ben able to use different social spaces in different ways: the research forum is the greenhouse where ideas sprout, Twitter is where they are discussed, the blog where they often first see the light of day and sometimes they make it through to a book. None of them make the transition unchanged: collaboration and challenge make them stronger or kill them off.
We covered three subjects yesterday: mobile and social learning, ideas which have been well developed, that i’m very comfortable with, and then the third session on ‘the languages of learning’. This is an area i’m still researching. I’ve interviewed thirty musicians, done a lot of reading, started to write, but it’s evolving. I’m trying to find the narrative to make it interesting, to make it relevant. I’m interested how we use these rich languages of music, poetry, art, in our social lives, but how we produce so much dull and drab learning in organisations: where do we lose the passion? Where did we decide to iron out the engagement?
Cath played some songs and talked about how learning music had changed how she learnt elsewhere, shared ideas about how the community of musicians is supportive, how we can model our own social learning spaces on this type of engagement. Marie shared some poems, talking about how messages are contained in their words and how there is structure and form to poetry that has to be mastered. Both shared creative insights into how they have learnt and mastered their languages, and we had a great discussion about how this can translate into understanding the wider languages of learning. Ideas that will percolate on through my own writing and research, informing the eventual book.
It felt great to have a mix of well defined, mainstream applications around some aspects, but to be brave enough, as a group, to explore new ideas too.
For me, it was a milestone, a chance to reflect and to share ideas. I’m looking forward to what the next 500 posts will bring, the people i’ll meet and the things that i’ll learn along the way.