For some ten to fifteen years, I have called my computer ‘Intentional Serendipity’. I did this somewhat flippantly at the time because I had recognized how many wonderful events seemed to serendipitously occur in my professional and personal life. (In fact, my spouse has suggested that I have a well-placed horseshoe that brings me good luck!)
Whether it was in my teaching, or researching, writing, holidays, or adventures- I always seemed to have ‘good luck’ with the ways things unfolded and turned out. Of course, I knew it wasn’t really luck.
It appeared to be related to my willingness to be open and flexible to opportunities as they arose. Although I might have made plans to pursue things in a certain way, those plans were rarely etched in stone. I was on the lookout for chance events, signals, ideas that might lead us in a better direction. I believe we should maintain an opportunistic vigilance.
…maintain an opportunistic vigilance.
So often, if our plans are made in a top-down fashion, we are bound and determined to follow them. Not me. For most things. I see planning as important – but, I view the ability to change those plans rapidly as circumstances dictate, to be even more important.
The Power of “Why?”
The trick, I think, is to know ‘why’ you are making the plans. Understand the ‘why’ deeply to your core. The plans are actually the ‘how’ and ‘what’. The ‘why’ becomes your ‘intention’. The ‘how’ and ‘what’ are the ways in which your intentions are achieved. These can be flexible…and you should always keep your eyes open to changing them to better achieve your intentions.
We, leaders at the YMCA of Greater Toronto, have been asked by our CEO, Medhat Mahdy, to always start with “Why” when we are developing a new project or initiative. It is a request I honour and respect.
Interestingly, I have been reading J.S. Brown’s work since the eighties because he is a cognitive scientist who worked at Xerox PARC. In fact, JSB was the “Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation and the director of its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)—a position he held for nearly two decades. While head of PARC, Brown expanded the role of corporate research to include such topics as organizational learning, knowledge management, complex adaptive systems, and nano/mems technologies. He was a cofounder of the Institute for Research on Learning (IRL). His personal research interests include the management of radical innovation, digital youth culture, digital media, and new forms of communication and learning.2” So as a teacher and student of ‘learning’, I worked with his extended family of colleagues at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (now OISE/UT) – including Marlene Scardamalia and Carl Bereiter.
The Power of Pull is worth the read. One of the points the authors emphasize is the role of serendipity in moving organizations to capitalize on the connections across the organization. They speak of how we can ‘shape’ serendipitous encounters; how we can organize environments so that beneficial communications and connections are more likely to occur; how we can ‘pull’ information, resources and ideas from the ‘edge’ to the ‘core’.
…we must accommodate the rapidity of ‘knowledge flows’ that stream over us.
So I believe in ‘intentional serendipity’. It is not luck. It is a way of being in the world that suggests we must accommodate the rapidity of
‘knowledge flows’ that stream over us.
After all, it was rather serendipitous that I discovered The Power of Pull. I had shaped the possibility that it would be discovered by me – through Twitter, blogs, conversation, and, yes, Amazon bots!
Hey all, I am cross posting this here. It is currently posted at the Cooperative Catalyst site where I occasionally write. I felt I needed to post it here as well because the Connectivism course has the rss feed to this site.
So I just started taking the Connectivism and Connected Learning course – and I shall struggle to see how it differentiates itself as a ‘learning theory’. George Siemens is developing this theory along with Stephen Downes. George outlines it here in Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.
The first analysis I wish to make is how it speaks to the construct of ‘collaboration’ – one of the essential elements of ‘social constructivism’ – and George and Stephen, in no uncertain terms, distinguish connectivism from constructivism. In fact, they, like others, suggest that constructivism is not a learning theory but is rather a philosophy. Two of the principles of ‘connectivism’ are:
- Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
- Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
…constructivism is not a learning theory…
Although these are explicitly stated, on quick glance through the course materials, the references I see to collaboration are more ‘quantitative’ in nature – such things as ‘social network analysis‘ and so on. The nature and quality of the collaboration doesn’t jump out at me at first blush. I may be wrong and will be interested in reading the rest of the articles, videos and presentations.
Let me take us on a somewhat retro look at some of the literature on collaboration in education.
I love learning. And I expect confusion. I thrive on dissonance. But, this morning, as I write this, I am curiously unsettled.
It has been the first week of the Connectivism course and I have not been able to attend to the readings and the webinars as deeply as I had hoped. One of those weeks, I guess.
I have generally described myself as a constructivist, indeed constructionist, over the years. However, I have always had a distinct distaste for packaged descriptions and formulae and indeed theories propagated and, often marketed by gurus as if there it is a ‘truth’ delivered from the heavens.
I have always found myself in discord with any proponent of any theory because there is often a rigidity in their thinking or a flippant dismissal of other aspects of self or other domains that may bring the chosen theory into question.
Now I see George Siemens and Stephen Downes differently because of the value systems I see inherent in their behaviours and actions. The openness and richness of diverse voice is welcomed, and indeed encouraged.
Now I don’t intend to get into hero worship here either. Also, not my style.
However, I am continuing my struggle to gain deeper understandings.
Right now, my brain is turbulent. This week’s readings and webinars have unleashed noises and visions that won’t settle – everything from my discussions with Derrick de Kerckhove and his work on connected intelligence in the 1990’s to the newer research into neuroplasticity to the nightmarish classifications of our western medical models which define, and advise on, ADHD and learning disabilities.
Ok, no really intelligent thoughts today.
I just need to become one with the messiness of my mind.
- Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2011 (downes.ca)