The unforseen affordances of technology

I logged in to the Ustream session this evening and what an event that turned out to be. The ‘leaders’, i.e. Stephen, George and Dave, did not appear for quite some time and even then the video streaming did not work, so we all had to decamp to Elluminate.

But what was so fascinating was how people in the chat room behaved whilst waiting for ‘our leaders’ – especially since this is the very week that the topic is about the distinction between groups and networks. I’m sure others will be posting about this and it will be really interesting to read about how people experienced this.

For me – I felt as though I really was in a group, probably for the first time since starting this course and I have to say, it felt GOOD! There was a lot of good humour and ‘rubbing of shoulders’. But what cropped up almost immediately, even if it was said in jest, was that we needed a leader. There were a number of volunteers! There was some attempt to try and chat about networks, groups and collectives but it was all very light-hearted and unfocussed. Everyone was waiting for the ‘leaders’. But the time was not wasted. it was fast and furious online socialisation at its best. It would have been even better if everyone had logged in with their name instead of a number, because then we could more easily follow up on people who interest us to try and make stronger connections.

There will, of course, have been people who were just observing and not posting and I wonder whether they ‘felt’ part of a group. In fact I wonder if even the people who were posting felt part of a ‘group’ as I did, and whether it also felt good to them. I hope there’ll be some posts about this as it seems significant to me in relation to the role of groups in learning.

So – did we learn anything in the half hour that we spent messing about while trying to get the Ustream session to work. I think I did. I learned that relationships, however fleeting, are really important to my learning process and that ‘feeling’ good about a learning environment makes all the difference to how engaged I am.

The group might have disbanded as quickly as it formed, but it was good while it lasted!

2 thoughts on “The unforseen affordances of technology

  1. Matthias Melcher October 11, 2008 / 11:39 am

    You were asking about the observers “whether they ‘felt’ part of a group”. Yes, this was a momentary group feeling. I think the “passion” ingredient was already present in many of our networks. The additional ingredient was the awareness that there is a minimal amount of the “subsumption of self” which causes a tension and the humour.
    Since you mentioned your choir, this punctual subsumption has probably a similar flavor for you as for me (bass in an amateur choir): we needed a leader in the sense of a choir conductor because someone must give the pitch, the tempo, and the cue.

  2. jennymackness October 12, 2008 / 8:51 am

    Hi Matthias – a choir seems to be a good context for thinking about groups and networks ( I sing alto in an amateur choir).

    There is that expression – ‘all singing from the same hymn sheet’ and this is what a choir does. However despite the same hymn sheet there is room for subgroups (bass, tenor, alto, soprano and so on) and there is also room for solo parts. And even within our alto group, I know that despite the choir leader’s best efforts, we each interpret the music in a slighlty different way, which probably wouldn’t be evident to the audience, but is from within the choir. So there is ‘sameness’ on one level, but not on another.

    I have attended big choral singing days of about 100 people. This is a bit more like tapping into a network, because the singers don’t know each other, although the hundred people ‘sing from the same hymn sheet’ for the day.

    I’m wondering to what extent a network ‘sings from the same hymn sheet’ and whether if it starts to do this it automatically becomes a group that needs a leader.

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