Beginning the 1st week of the #change11 MOOC – preparing for refractions and unprocesses
I just changed the name of my blog to: On the fourth Identity. This post is my first rough plan for explaining what I’m aiming to develop around this topic and why I chose to make the #change11 MOOC my main utility and vehicle for the next 36 weeks. There are three main points. As the first I’ll mention the first Aboagora symposium held in Turku, Finland a month ago. The theme was: Rethinking enlightenment. Putting the concluding message of the first Aboagora in brief – we must teach our children that we’ve made the world a place in which no-one can predict what kind of impact the development of all the technology next will have on us. We must learn to adapt. We must learn to do it together. Refraction instead of reflection and re-inventing are key words.
As the second point I pick up this blog post by George Siemens explaining the #change11 process: “The final image, however, is one that will be formed by all of our contributions!”. So it will be all about re-inventing – not getting stuck with endless reflection, but utilizing the refractions brought by the diversity of interests and being open to changing the direction along the way and not setting too fixed targets at any phase of this MOOC.
“Believe that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Believe that you might be that light for someone else.”
– Kobi Yamada – photo: cc Irmeli Aro’s flickr 2011/365/255
The third and my most personal reason goes back to an afternoon class in February 2004. I had started to work for a R&D European Union Socrates programme Minerva project on inter-cultural education. The first task was to participate & learn to tutor the pilot courses belonging to the project. The main knowledge architect of the project Venla Varis explained that in order to become an inter- and socio-culturally competent educator, manager, learner and knowledge worker we must learn a second, third and even a fourth identity. – The project ended in 2005. No next project followed. There’s been a small group of us enthusiasts who have kept the idea of the next identities as a back light of all our learning & development ever since. Now I feel I’m ready for both myself learning the fourth identity and collaboratively collecting the learning process from the first identity to the fourth as a transformative learning path – to be tested as a model for e.g. learning & coaching organizational dialogue as the following step. The following conference paper by Venla Varis presented in Prague in 2005 (the International Conference New Perspectives in Cognitive and Inter-cultural Learning: from Preschool Education to Information Society) explains the outcomes of the mentioned EU project: Sociocultural competence and its evaluation. I’m going to both summarize and expand the theme throughout this MOOC.
How I’ve personally experienced the identities I-III so far
By yesterday, exactly ten years ago, I had used almost fifteen years of my young adulthood for expanding my career within airline ground handling subcontracting services. I was a member of a global innovation project group. We aimed at re-inventing the branch. The growth expectations were exceptional compared to many other businesses. An intriguing future was just around the corner. Today, exactly ten years ago, we were reading of the devastating effect the New York bomb attacks would have to our business. Very soon the UN International Labor Organization estimated that almost a million jobs were lost overnight within the airline and travel business and related services. And that was only a beginning of the snowball effect which followed. All innovation projects were canceled. The recession was a kick-off for focusing on cutting costs only. For us who – despite our still relatively young age – considered ourselves to be old professionals within the business in concern, the further career doors were closed for ever.
Observing the case now – it had never ever occurred to us that our competences were extremely bound into a very narrow context. We considered ourselves to be able to form and conduct multicultural teams and to innovate and re-invent. We were totally blind to the fact that our skills were limited to performing inside thick walls of the existing old silo only. In brief – in the end of the day, there was always someone more experienced to say something like …good ideas you have, but that kind of ideas have never worked before – so let’s not touch the corner stones of our activities. – When we became redundant, we had no preparedness to re-invent anything outside the safe walls of the closed old silo. Neither had it ever occurred to us that a major part of the core network of (professional) friends would get unemployed simultaneously. All of a sudden we were not able to offer any kind of professional help or safety network to each other.
Acquiring the second identity
For acquiring the next identity (which process I of course at that time could not name or understand like that) I started to study forestry economy. The above mentioned EU project was one side path of my studies. The main outcome of the project and its courses for me personally was a completely new way to interpret personality tests. I had taken several of them during my earlier career – and always the results had been explained more or less in a way that emphasized a point view according to which we were supposed to remain the way we were. What can be done is to transfer people into different job positions. There was always a dose of fear in the air when hearing the test results. – What if I’m not a suitable personality for my current job position… We completed the DiSC test during the EU project. For the first time ever I got the result explained in a way that the test points out two personality types you kind of know because of how you were born, raced and later on socialized into at school, during studies, at job organizations etc. How you should utilize the result is that you should planned and consciously begin to practice the two personality types you cannot utilize e.g. in multi-cultural contexts yet. I’ll go deeper into how the process proceeded later on. As a brief conclusion I can say that because of starting to practice the Steadiness and Influence pillars of DiSC – I’m writing this post here today. The “S” and “I” can also be thought to stand for “social” and “innovative” – skills we did not get any real chances to practice inside the old working silo with the thick walls.
photo cc Irmeli Aro’s flickr @dailyshoot #ds609
Observations of the process of learning the third identity
Acquiring the third identity began when I participated my first MOOC: Connectivism and Connective Knowledge #cck08. When looking back today – I realize that no matter how crucial I still keep the phase of learning the second identity for my whole life – I actually during that time learned two new silos inside which I acted from. The new silo #1 was the forestry economy. During the years we completed the B.Sc. a significant amount of Finnish forestry and pulp industry moved into areas where the near future core markets are: Brazil, China, Russia… The process still continues. The old plants are closed one after another. – Again – no matter if we are old professionals or newly graduated – we have no readiness to re-invent, when the old safe silo with the old safe procedures does not exist any more. My new silo #2 was e-learning. Through the before mentioned EU project inter-cultural education became my minor subject and I completed my bachelors thesis on transformative web learning of adult students. I also completed web teacher studies. But, but… the core ideas I had adopted were that it’s up to the teacher or tutor to create an authentic learning environment, collect clear instructions, be a lot present throughout the course and always correct, aid and/or decide how to proceed if any problems occur within the e-course work. But hey… that sounds like the teacher builds a safe silo with thick walls for the duration of the course… It may work well for a learner who has her or his old work silo where to return and utilize all the learned. – Again I was in a situation in which I had no readiness to re-invent outside an old learning silo with the thick old walls. Sigh.
MOOC is about sharing your local contextualizing process globally
Many pieces of the identity reconstruction puzzle fell into there places on last Friday when an entrepreneurial meet-up 71. #bisnestreffit (in Finnjsh) coordinated by TIEKE (Finnish Information Society Development Centre) was organized in Helsinki with strong social media presence. The topic was open public data. Among the conclusions were at first, that even though our new government supports the process, a clear political leadership and will is missing, and second that a big reason why organizations in key positions to take the remarkable steps forward don’t do it – is that people throughout the organizations are stuck with 2D A4 paper sheet kind of imagination. Yes!
Finnish entrepreneurial coach and author Mari Aulanko has taught that if we try to improve our (working) life by changing the context (like moving the location, organization…) our worries, troubles and sorrows follow and move behind us. This is what happens if and when we see a MOOC to be our next or new context for learning. The focus is not in the center of the MOOC itself. Our focus must be in re-inventing our closest contexts and sharing the process with other MOOCers and learning and daring more by utilizing each others’ experiences.
And next into discovering the first refractions of this MOOC
My whole post has been about good old old-fashioned reflection. What I’ll do next is start to find out what you other participants are aiming at. I don’t intend to make too fixed goals for learning & development in the beginning of the MOOC – but I’ll anyway draw some outline for the discoveries I’d like to have made by the end of next May. Some of my current key issues are:
- utilizing blogging, concept mapping etc. during this MOOC to draft a publication on “The Fourth Identity” (together with Venla Varis) – I don’t want to decide the exact format yet
- utilize an unconferencing process called #SomeTime2012 for organizing a series of workshops bound to this MOOC in Finland during the next spring
- based on the above, decide the final perspective for my master’s thesis on new knowledge management
- bind the above process with the unprocesses of opening the public data in Finland <= find some (un)organizations willing to test & develop the MOOC & identity reconstruction processes & procedures
Now I’m very curious how all your inputs will shape and refine my list by the end of this week!