Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fragmented narrative: practising what we preach

Last night, I attended some of the FOE presentations. Sadly, my hayfever meds knocked me for six, and I missed Sugata Mitra and the first half of Chris Sessums. I was glad to pick up the balance of Chris's session, though. As ever, there was a lot of action going on in the chat room.

I have already posted on my sadly lost state during Dave Cormier's presentation. Hopefully a few of us will arrange a UK based get together to see if we can fill the gaps in our understanding there. You haven't forgotten have you, Martin?

It's the next presentation I want to focus on in this post, and I'm a bit trepidatious about this, because I just know that I am going to offend people here! Dave Snowden talked about a variety of issues, and I would be hard-pressed to give a single title to his presentation. He touched measurement and reward; the concept of tacit v explicit knowledge; innovation v orthodoxy; the disconnect between the real and the virtual; validation; scale; cognitive development. But my (possibly biased) perception was that the greatest emphasis fell on the concept of fragmented narrative - the notion of the learner constructing content from fragmented narrative (such as blogs).

The struggle for me was in the disconnect between the excellent message and the style of presentation. Dave's presentation was delivered in a largely didactic, brooks-no-argument style which seemed to be at odds with the message he was delivering. Of all the Elluminate presentations I have attended, this was the one with the least traffic going on in the chat panel during the presentation, and such questions as were raised there were answered very decisively by Dave himself, rather than generating discussion, observation and debate from the community. Many of the people attending are known to me from previous sessions of both this and the Connectivism conference, and I have never known them to be so inhibited (would cowed be too strong a word?). There didn't seem to me to be many fragments on offer.

I have no pithy observations or clever suggestions to make, but this has been nagging at me, so I felt the need to get it out in the open. To be totally candid, I feel as if I am being, well -too big for my boots to question such a respected figure, but I'm taking a deep breath and stating the case as I see it. I invite observations, refutations and responses from all perspectives... as ever, happy to be dissuaded!


Anonymous said...

Feel free to question Karyn. I had twenty minutes to deliver a complex message and did so to the best of my ability. The issue of fragments is also up on my blog today, and relates to the use of narrative in meaning-making and knowledge capture.

I was asked to deliver a speech (my third that day) rather than lead a discussion group. If I had been asked to do the latter the style would have been different.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I have been unable to attend the sessions thus far this week but I have been trying to read through comments and the discussions. As I have followed along, I have been impressed by the depth of conversation and complexity of the various discussions as they move in a variety of directions. Thanks for your honest impression and insight into what you have experienced thus far. It is great to see people who are willing to question things keeping within a professional context. Hope to run into online!

Anonymous said...

Hi Karyn,

Personally, I quite often find the back-channel chats distracting - particularly if the speaker is good and has a well structured presentation.

The chats are useful to be able to pose questions back to the speaker, which it sounds like Dave answered (I've not listened in to that session yet)

I think Dave's right in that the conference is centred around the discussion forums - the presentations are simply sparks for those more in-depth discussions.

Anonymous said...

At first, I was also very distracted by the chat, and I was stunned at how busy it is - you've got to be able to type FAST! But I got used to it quite quickly.

Because the presentations are being recorded, you know you can always come back to them later, but the chat is very immediate and very much a one-off. I find that perspective frees me up to pay attention to the chat and what is said in there is as valuable as the presentation, quite often - it's that fragmented narrative that Dave referred to: bits and pieces of different people's perspective being aggregated.

You get to know some of your fellow delegates (or their views at least) quite well because the need-for-speed means they don't have time to sugar coat - they just say what they think! I now keep a special eye open for some people's comments because I find their perspectives helpful.