Connected: Trails

Week three on the road and i am settled into disruption. Bouts of familiarity interspersed with the emergent and new. By the time i get home again, it will have been round the world in twenty one days: twenty one touch points, twenty one connections. Already i realise i’ve lapsed into numbers: quantifying what is only partly a numerical journey. Sure: you can count the miles, but can you count the ideas?

Connected - Trails

We talk about ‘learning landscapes’, as if learning itself is a journey, a progression of discovery, but that can give too linear an impression. Sometimes the journey itself if emergent: taking us just one foot in front of the other wherever our boots land. Sometimes it takes us into the unfamiliar and unsafe, ideas that challenge our notions of fact and our belief in what we know to be true.

There is the physical journey, which one undertakes with a pack full of socks and a collection of books, and parallel to this, the story of the journey, which one recounts with memory and souvenir, with friends, over coffee. Whilst my circumnavigation may be circular, the ideas are not: ideas change us, new thoughts disconnect us from the old, connect us into new communities and spaces. Ideas themselves are not fixed: what i believed yesterday may evolve today into the thoughts i have tomorrow. Travel changes us not simply in miles.

I’m reading Patti Smith’s new book, M Train, a reflection on creativity and life through a trail of coffee shops. It’s eclectic in style and structure: falling into the past, visiting the present, through friendships and lovers, places and journeys. It’s a story woven through time, leaving me with a yearning to write, to create.

Writing does not need to be purposeful: it’s reflective and can equally be aimless, wandering and lost. It’s ok to have ideas that are only half formed: after all, if we don’t write them, if we don’t share them, how will they ever learn to be fully formed?

Numbers again: i was talking earlier today about how we quantify the ROI of Social Learning, reflecting that maybe we don’t need to measure simple engagement so much as understand the value of the stories that are written, very much in the style of #WorkingOutLoud. The storytelling itself is the thing, not the accuracy of the story. Travelling is a sense making activity, be it in our heads or on our feet.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
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