George Siemens spoke to our EC&I 831 class last week about sensemaking and wayfinding. In a world where the internet has fragmented information we seek ways to weave and connect the pieces together for coherence and to navigate our way through the “spatial component of knowledge”.
Siemens discussed the tendency for traditional, formal education to present information in prepackaged, coherent wholes and learners basically consume what they are given. I can relate wholeheartedly as this was predominantly the philosophy of education when I went to school. I remember the high level of structure, the compartmentalized concepts and the pre-established levels of learning. We were grouped in terms of what we could consume and when it would be delivered. The teacher held the answers and I waited to receive them. Now don’t get me wrong I had many teachers who balked this trend, and as a learner in their classes I suddenly felt awake, tuned in and present. I was actively involved in my own learning! To be encouraged to grapple and struggle with unknowns and get messy in the learning was challenging and at times uncomfortable. It takes work and effort when you are really learning and really engaging in the process but it is worth it all. These experiences taught me that learning is a marathon not a sprint. It feels far better to find the way than to be placed on the finish line.
Sensemaking and wayfinding does not happen in a vacuum. I think there must be an environment that facilitates it and a community to support it. My Master’s courses are an excellent example of an environment that encourages me to weave together so many pieces into a whole that is meaningful and relevant to me. Although the meaning is mine and I will have my own interpretation of the connections, I could not navigate this journey without support. I thought I would try MindMeister
, a online interactive mind mapping tool, to organize my thoughts around community and its role in sensemaking and wayfinding. Sadly and yet again, I cannot embed the mind map (as with Glogster
) into my blog post. It seems that in order to embed many of these tools you are required you to have a Worpress.org
blog. I apologize that to see my mind map
you will have to link outside of this blog. Blogging and the interaction of online tools are some of the concepts I am trying to weave together into some coherent whole!
Sensemaking and wayfinding are personal even though they are socially and communally enabled. ~George Siemens
I am grateful that I had teachers who rejected the idea that we were vessels to be filled, who got excited by the discovery as much as their students did, and who taught outside the box. I guess in a way they were the first community to support me in sensemaking and wayfinding. Their approaches to learning taught me the value of being resilient, resourceful, connected and flexible as a learner. They inspired my love of learning and my passion for becoming a teacher. Project PLN
has put a call out for submissions for their November issue. The topic is #SchoolDidAGoodThing
. I gave myself a challenge a few posts ago
to contribute and this morning I submitted a story (yeah!) about teachers who made a difference for me. I encourage you to do the same. It feels great to be a part of a community that is sharing positive stories about education during a time when we hear so much about all that is wrong. I think the power for change lies in the people making a positive impact…that is the energy that will move us forward.
If you decide to submit a story to November’s Project PLN please let me know. I would also love to hear what else you would add to the mind map about communities and their impact on sensemaking and wayfinding.