Connecting, Disconnecting, and Reconnecting – Week 6 Reading Response

I have always believed that there are connections that, if you look hard enough, will bind everything together. Nothing is truly isolated.

This idea was very much in focus in our readings in Lankshear and Knobel Ch7: Social Learning, “Push” and “Pull,” and Building Platforms for Collaborative Learning. For me, this chapter reiterated ideas I learned last semester in my Social Media & Digital Culture class. The networked learning structure described in this chapter reminds me a lot of the L&D function in my workplace. I work in what would be described as a centralized node where curriculum and information are sent out to our 15 offsite locations where 15 counterparts to me work with their teams and each other to share information with their properties. The also send operations-based learning programs and feedback to me to learn and incorporate in my work. I also work directly with many operations teams, linking them back to other people in the L&D network and other operational departments. All this networking works great, but only when we are doing it in a context where we are not trying to “push” canned learning out to our learners without taking a had look at whether it meets their needs or not.

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During the last year, our focus changed to try and “pull” our learners into investing their time and effort into more quality programs that teach them skill and behaviors that can immediately be applied. This has been a game-changer for our function within the company. We’ve only test launched 3-4 programs, but already we have more and more company leaders and teams approaching us to draw us into their projects to share our expertise and help them achieve their goals.

On the flip side, Scott Campbell’s The Importance of Being Along in the Digital Era reaffirmed for me that as powerful as these networks can be, there are times when I need to disconnect to recenter my mind and recharge my batteries. I was especially struck by the author’s quote from Sherry Turkle:

“In solitude we find ourselves; we prepare ourselves to come to conversation.”

When I exist in a state of continual connectedness, I feel drained and out of sorts. That is why I set for my self “Solid Sundays” to disconnect. That’s not to say that I lock myself away from the world every Sunday. I don’t. I just put down the cell phone and laptop and reconnect with my real world and focus on deeper things.

For my interest-driven reading, I chose How do we define “normal”? from howstuffworks.com. While not having as deep a depth as I would have liked, the article posed some unique questions that caught my interest. I’m just going to ask this question: does it strike anyone else but me as odd that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has proclaimed that 1 in 4 Americans has a mental illness i.e. isn’t “normal.” Personally, I don’t trust this assessment as being accurate. The article does a great job of pointing out that normal varies by situation and personal perception. The article ends with a very profound idea which I feel needs sharing:

“Normal, seen through the eye of the beholder, is filtered through the lens of society.”

In one group, each of us could be abnormal but as we form and reform and re-norm communities, that abnormality can quickly become normality.

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