Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In Search of Meaning and Flow

I haven't been blogging. Mea culpa. Working on dissertation, family illness, job demands, etc and there just didn't seem enough time to make meaning out of all that I was reading and learning from other bloggers. Then, life changed (dissertation done!) and Lilia Efimova shamed me into thinking about blogging as healthy routine again.

Granted my life is still chaos, but in the right context, it is beautiful chaos ripe for sharing. I'm in Chicago at the School of the Art Institute (TICA & more on that later), and one of the participants said that my work is like "being a kid in a candy shop." Too true, but even kids want vegetables/macaroni and cheese/protein now and then and lately, I'm feeling urpy (technical term) by the tools, information, ideas flowing past. George Siemens recommends we learn to accept that we miss out on the flow when we "eat, sleep or whatever". Hard to do when your job is to find application, meaning, value amidst the rubble. No sleeping! So - hoping it lasts - I'm focused on returning to making meaning while here, awake and on the grid.

My friend Patricia McGee and I have been attempting to think through a model with focus on meaning & value by not talking anymore about the tools, but about narrowing description of use. We're expecting push back from those who are in it for the wild ride, but for us, it's about the value the deep learning the return the outcomes.
Patricia believe one avenue (perhaps the only, certainly the best) approach is through story. Case study is story. Best practices is story. What didn't work is great story. More on that when she finishes her latest oeuvre.

Meanwhile, the Havas Media Lab have put up a very compelling white paper describing the framework of meaning as "user generated context". What HML has done for rethinking the business model, (yes, following on the work of so many great bloggers; see my list gathered via SNA at Shared Knowledge Project) those in higher education should be doing to make sense of the flood of tools, technologies, places and spaces we're exploring daily.

We know the tools. (FYI: Jane Hart did a great job of compiling consensus on tools relevant to learning) but I don't think we're doing a very good job of making sense and meaning/demonstrating value of all this technology, chaos, beauty. Those who work in this realm (hey, I resemble that!) should move forward and take responsibility in getting the social, distributed, shared nature of digital knowledge incorporated into the fabric of higher education. I'm suggesting we stop promoting the tools and address the value. User generated context. Meaning. Value. Integration into the flow of the course and the desired outcomes of the discipline.

OK. Enough blogging. Chicago is calling my name. So is the pizza, italian beef with two peppers/dry, hot dogs with everything (neon relish, tomato, pickle, onion, mustard and NO ketchup), sudsy Leinenkugels, and muggy walks in verdant greenery. I'll defend desert life till my throat hurts but Chicago is a great place to visit after a rockin' workshop on Web 2.0.
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