ZML Didaktik / Innovative Learning Scenarios

Are we social artists?

Posted on: November 11, 2011

I continue to think about Nancy White’s week about social artists and was searching for an explication of “social artist”. I asked Etienne Wenger as recommended on his website for his four essays on key components of the learning capability of social system, including “Social learning spaces,” “Learning citizenship,” “Social artists,” and “Learning governance.” And he sent them to me immediately!

I was very happy and started to read them with focus on the expression “social artist”. I have a certain problem with the word “artist”. From my basic education I’m theoretical physicist and I believe and hope that I’m “creative” in planning my virtual rooms, developing concepts and challenging the learners but I’m no “artist”. And during Nancy’s week I perceived that the social artists have to do with “arts” – there were particpants drawing pictures, composing music – I never could do this.

But in Wenger’s article a social artist is a person “enabling social learnig spaces”. And that’s my job – and I love to do it.

So I invited my colleague Natasa to reflect with me Wenger’s definition of social artists as we both design virtual learning spaces and are trained eModerators by Gilly Salmon. In these weeks Natasa moderates a training course about social media which takes place in fb whereas I support students of our master study degree of Social work in their online socialisation course at the beginning of their studies.

We discussed Wenger’s paradoxes in the life of a social artist:

Social artists network because there is something they care about, some new learning they want to enable.

Yes, we do! We want to irritate and challenge people and make them reflect their learning processes until now to help them experience new ways of learning – democratic, open, playful, reflective ways.

Social artists have a genuine intention to create a collective learning process.

Yes, starting in 1998 (when our institute started) we believed in shared learning processes and designed collective learning scenarious.

Social artists care that people feel ownership of their learning spaces.

We care about supporting our participants and students in being self-directed and going their own way, defining their own objectives, finding their learning spaces.

Social artists are patient with social processes, they do not seek control.

Uffa, it is not easy to be patient and Natasa said that she is struggling with being patient whereas in my opinion she has a lot of patience with her course participants. We do not seek control but want to facilitate and support the learners. We try to be as open as possible in the perception of different ways of learning, other velocities, other attitudes with regard to learning. We reflect what we observe in our virtual groups and learn a lot during our courses.

Social artists can tolerate chaos, dissension and negotiation.

Yes, we can but it is not easy. It means to be patient, to have confidence into the virtual groups, and to support them to survive these periods.

Social artists inspire people to do things these people never thought they would do and end up feeling good about it.

Yes! It is always great when we succeed in achieving this aspect, when people write that they “appreciate the potential of the virtual room”, when they have learned to value the exchange between each other and realise how much they can learn from each other and profit from the shared expertice. According to Gilly Salmon this is phase 5: development when the group gets independent from the moderator and organsises itself.

Social artists are pragmatic …. Social artists have visions and aspirations even when they are quiet about them… They are able to navigate the complex politics of communities and organizations to promote and protect the learning spaces they care about.

Yes, we definitely try to protect our learning spaces and further develop “New learning” and infect as many persons as possible to induce changes in communities and organizations.

Social artists live what they seek to bring about….They use their own experience and  identity, as a source of inspiration.

Yes, we are focussed on learning, reflecting, making experiments, designing, developing, discussing to support people better in their own elearning processes.

The work of social artists has to do with the heart as well as the mind, with passion and commitment…. And it is hard work.

Yes, caring about virtual groups and social learning spaces is part of our daily work and keeps us occupied. It needs a lot of energy, of openess to perceive what people need, it never finishes. But to observe the learning processes, the changes, the reflections at the edn of a course, a semster is a great gratification.

5 Responses to "Are we social artists?"

[…] have just come across this blogpost by Jupidu – Are we Social Artists? – which is great not only for the thoughtful reflection on the question, but also reminding […]

Sorry it took me so long to circle back. I really like how you parsed out Etienne’s thoughts and connected them to your practices. You are right, by accident we focused on the “arts” part of it due to the visual play in the webroom, but I did not mean artists in the sense of applied arts and production of art — which is something I think George questioned as well. But to reflect on the creative nature of being open and passionate with people and to their learning desires. I think I also like the evocative language!

Hi Nancy, incredible that you have discovered my blog post – weeks after your MOOC-week. And I realise that I don’t understand how this MOOC network works …Bye jupidu

Ha, and here it is, even more wees later. Well, I’m not sure I understand it fully. I can grasp the idea of how links can connect our distributed reflections on what we are learning in #change11, but there is something else about opening oneself up that I think is more important. In doing that, we need to be seen, heard and … to use the Dali Lama’s concept, seen heard and loved. That is not just about links or content!

[…] „Wir sind Social Artists“ war die Aussage und gleichzeitig auch Frage unserer Chefin Jutta Pauschenwein, als sie Erika Pernold und mich zu unserem ersten ZML-Leseclub Treffen eingeladen hat. […]

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