I’m off to an e-learning conference today, a chance to gather together with like minded people to share ideas and develop new ones. Whilst we are all connected online, congregating for a formal event like this serves a number of purposes: it reinforces and builds social bonds, it provides space for sharing and challenge and it marks a milestone in the diary, it helps us celebrate our learning. There’s a deep imperative to come together.
In the Social Age, we are so interconnected, so networked, that it can be easy to lose track of milestones, easy to lose the urge to celebrate and share that drove farmers to come together for medieval fairs or communities to come together in the town square. Communities are built upon shared purpose, upon mutual self interest, and those needs are not just formal learning or production ones, they are social and reflective too. When the circus comes to town, we congregate under the big top to build a shared narrative.
Whilst we all work away, building experience, delivering projects, learning, we often work in isolation or dispersed teams. Coming together for a fair like this lets us bring our work, our thinking, our challenges, back into the fold. It lets us celebrate both our own and other’s success and help solve our challenges.
Of course, congregating is person is valuable, but that doesn’t mean that other collective activities are less so: increasingly we see Google Hangouts, webinars and ‘learn chats’ being used, organised within the community, around specific projects or interests, as chances to collaborate and share. It’s innate, within us to congregate, to come together in bigger groups. It helps us to learn and to measure our learning.
Today’s event exists on many levels: in person, in the Twittersphere, online, but the thing i am looking forward to most is to put some faces to names, to meet in person, to joining a congregation.