I needed to take a deep breath, refresh my coffee and step outside to feel the wind in my face before setting out to write my first blog post for Unit 1- Introduction and Virtual Symposium.
Overwhelmed, emotional, anxious, overjoyed, grateful, enlightened and reflective were some of my feelings and moods after the Virtual Symposium. There was learning I needed and didn’t know I needed and a 500 word reflective essay will not do justice to what I took away and will continue to take away, by watching the recordings more than once. Realizing that led to my decision to press pause and analyze each of the videos one after the other, starting with the one I thought I had some awareness of and expected to have learnings that I will be able to apply right away. This was Dave Cormier’s Intentional Messiness of Online Communities.
Fresh from winning a National Learning Excellence Award 2020 (50:44 till 1:01) for Assiniboine Credit Union, I had developed a sense of intellectual conceit which Dave’s presentation revealed to me. In spite of all my reflections around my work, I had not identified this before watching Cormier’s session. Analyzing this session took me well over three hours and even then, I felt there was more work to do. I decided to start from scratch, releasing any thought that I had a foundation to build on. It was a liberating approach that led to deep introspection and the acknowledgement that this presentation will have a lasting impact on my practice as a learning and development professional.
As the Manager, Learning Solutions at Assiniboine Credit Union; I created an in-house open learning space in our intranet, which drew from the MOOC format and houses many of our core learning programs. The programs go ‘live’ every spring and fall and follow a self-directed, peer-led model. This had great impact, and Learning Café as it was called, drew phenomenal engagement and results. In spite of this, over the last few months I have been battling feelings of losing control over the learning objectives and outcomes achievement. And when trying to resolve this experience pushback from the very learning community that I built and nurtured, leading me to experience confusion and disappointment.
In his presentation, Cormier says” “The problem is because it is an open course and it’s really an open learning environment and is unbounded, ‘they’ become a ‘we’ as opposed to everybody else so the longer you go through the learning community process the more the core community begins to harden and the harder it is to get in. “(Cormier, 2017, 28:10- 29:02). This was a moment of deep realization, an epiphany for me. Cormier goes on to say “So when you get learning all over you and people learn things that you don’t necessarily expect them to, it is difficult to hope they will learn any of the things you want them to.” (Cormier, 2017, 30:54). This was an eye-opening moment for me.
Now that I had identified what could have led to my worrisome observations and the accompanying feelings, I wanted to know what needed to be done. Cormier then indicates what the solution could look like, “The friendlier people become, the more difficult it is for them to be critical. As long as you keep control of the environment and you say- this is the learning you are doing and this is the rubric we are following and this is how you are being evaluated for the way you are talking about, it helps keep a formality to the process that allows you to keep the criticalness.”(2017, 31:57-32.04).
Dave Cormier’s presentation has given me an indication of what I need to do this week, it starts with identifying the stakeholders I need to engage with at work, arrive at a proposal to restructure the learning process in Learning Café, create more structure and embed an evidence-based assessment approach that will work with and shape ACU’s culture. The one question that lingers on my mind is, what specific downstream impact will businesses experience over a period of five to ten years if rhizomatic learning processes and the learning communities that are established are left to live and breathe on their own in a corporate environment? What is the lifecycle of a learning community? I am confident that exploring and following my thoughts through the course will lead me to my answers.
Cormier, D. (2017, April 18). Intentional messiness of online communities. In E. Childs (Chair), MALAT Virtual Symposium [Virtual Symposium]. Royal Roads University, Victoria, British Columbia. https://malat-coursesite.royalroads.ca/lrnt521/dave-cormier-virtual-symposium-presentation/