I was at a festival this weekend, enjoying some great music in the sunshine with my friends. It’s a beautiful site, a Big Top for the larger bands, stalls for food and drink, and a small acoustic tent for more intimate music. Outside this area, my friend Edryd had been commissioned to build some lanterns: willow, woven into a base with the lights emerging from the top, like a flame frozen in time.
Edryd runs his own business, designing and installing decorative elements for festivals: flags, banners, lighting and so on. He creates the environment for the music to take place in and does this for lots of different venues.
In fact, there are lots of facilitating roles at festivals: the people doing security will work across events, the food stall holders run their own businesses, travelling all season between different fields. There are even enterprising people running ‘wheelbarrow’ services to take your camping gear from the car to the campsite. Wherever there is a shared need, someone has provided a solution. Good festivals go to quite some trouble to curate the experience, bringing in the right people, like Edryd, to work on individual elements, elements that, together, deliver the experience.
When we are designing a learning programme, we need to give the experience the same type of consideration. Who is responsible for logistics, for the room, for facilitating? Are you trying to do everything yourself or are you building a team to work around you? The Social Age is about networks, not so much about trying to do it all alone. Building and actively curating a breadth into your experiences, into your connections, will let you see things with your community, from different perspectives. And different perspectives are good for learning, they let us escape our preconceptions. It prevents us just doing the same old thing again and again.
I’ve always found great strength from diverse opinions, which is why most of the people i work with for learning design have broad backgrounds: musicians, authors, film makers, people with storytelling experience in all forms. Combined with the best of instructional design and project management, with the best of business knowledge and the passion of storytellers is a great way to generate engagement.
Look at your personal learning network: is it broad enough to let you facilitate great experiences for the Social Age? Are you putting on a festival of learning, or just standing around in a muddy field?