The stories we want to tell ourselves

I want to be a part of an awesome story – is this a proper way to describe human life? I’ll tell of a serendipitous moment of learning.  I listened to a Finnish radio programme in which a young woman told about her new book. The book (available only in Finnish, Ilmiön kaava) deals with social phenomena which come and go in public: political phenomena, eating behaviours, brands, idols, what ever. Social media helps in aggregation of these phenomena. The pattern of these phenomena is the book’s theme. The book is very practical and its intention is far from mine, it helps to sell something to anyone, it gives lists to check if you have tried properly. My intention is to understand online learning and my interest is in authentic events. In spite of that great difference, the radio programme helped me a lot. It made me change my frame from individuals to phenomena. My former attempt to understand self-organisation was in February 2011 in this blog. I was interested in crowd behavior and the answer was that leaders or organisers were always needed. I told about some cases, which aimed to ‘do something good’.

In the radio programme the premise was that nowadays everyone wants to be a part of a good story. We leave in crowds and want to share things. That is why we need phenomena to connect us with certain people. Simple positive emotions and communication between the participants are crucial. Light satisfaction is the glue of a crowd for enjoying. What is needed for an successful phenomenon (event, case) to occur?

There must be some authentic shared interest and a group of people who feel in a similar way. People want to act jointly and so that everyone still can choose his/her own way. There must be members who want to spread the message/the thing not only buy or participate once. People don’t walk in and join, they throw themselves into the process. The illusion of one’s own choice is very important. The identity is mirrored in the crowd and there must be some freedom.

The phenomenon may raise unintentionally or it may be designed and supported. First innovative people begin the process but then we need the strengtheners. They may be older idols or known things appreciated which can be connected to the process wisely (in the way which people accept).
The innovators must be sensitive to the needs and hopes of the potential crowd: what it wants to be a part of, and what it wants to be against, not belong to. There must be something old and something new, a frame is a combination. Fans and likes are an essential part of the phenomenon. The roots are growing  when the members want to tell others and spread the ideas. The ideas worth spreading must be sensitively understood. Not every phenomenon is commercial but some requisite is needed. (T-shirts and so on). Passion for spreading the idea leads to emergent creative ideas.

Also the negative events may reinforce the phenomenon. How dare you to resist this lovely event is common attitude. Enemies are needed – this helped me to interpret how the rhizo14 FB group refused to accept some negative results – those must be a mistake of the researchers. I wrote about this in March in this blog.

New tribes celebrate around their totem poles and the  irrational elements are connecting people, not only rational actions and discussions. Rapid heavy streams in the internet require intuitive participation. The basic need is to be charmed by something with other people and take part in something jointly, yet feeling like an independent individual. Research is not the right way to do. This is apparent in the new discussion about the rhizo14 research between Francess Bell and Simon Ensor.

How to win the obstacles when an idea is rising? If the idea is fresh and authentic, the phenomenon may rise with little work, if not, nothing happens no matter how hard one tries. How to find the people who want to spread the message and are happy doing that and those who recommend the new idea. What are the common mistakes? One of the blunders is to fall in love with one idea and forget other people’s needs. Another is to tell confused stories so that the big picture disappears (please come here everyone this is awesome). The third obstacle is to be afraid of negative comments and stop doing what is needed (save one’s jewels).

We could explore a mooc as a social cultural phenomenon. Some phenomena may become a part of identity (for instance Apple) and keep up continuous emotional binds. We =people who have been studying connectivism from the beginning can be described as a tribe which has a new branch around Dave and rhizomatic learning. We have to choose Engagement or alienation (I remember the name of Tanya’s article about rhizo14).  I think that the model pattern of phenomenon describes well the rhizo-like courses without content, where community is the curriculum. The internet is full of this kind of phenomena, events, happenings, cases based on light emotions and intuitive approval. People are doing what they want in their self-developed silos. So what?

Many times I’ve been thinking that perhaps we live again the Middle Ages. What I experience is true as such and no evidence is needed. Sciences are a hobby of some old-fashioned  people at mentally dead universities and our new practical journals (as Hybrid Pedagogy) tell the up-dated truth.

24 thoughts on “The stories we want to tell ourselves

  1. Hi Heli

    Thanks for this beautifully written piece. I was wondering what you meant by your final sentence. Do you really mean that there is no place for science in the modern world? What about all the research into medical interventions? I agree that Hybrid Pedagogy is approaching writing and scholarship in a very different way from some traditional journals and educators, but I am not sure that it would be a replacement for all types of research. I’d be interested in hearing more from you about this.

    • I don’t want to live again the Middle Ages, not at all. I am disappointed when I see people refusing the value of sciences. This blog is trying to find good research and it is challenging. I’ve been searching high-level connections between theory and practice all my professional life (40 years) and continue still, now being retired and free.
      I am sad when I see stupidity increasing and being supported. I don’t know what is the value/ meaning of journals like Hybrid Pedagogy – blogs would be better than a journal consisting of every day opinions. I am missing basic exploratory orientation, thinking, assessing, evaluation, critics and I see mostly preaching. I am sad and worried, that’s why I wrote this post.

      • Ah, I see – sorry, I was misunderstanding you. Now I think I am understanding you better – you are not saying you believe it, you are expressing an attitude that you see in some others?

  2. “New tribes celebrate around their totem poles and the irrational elements are connecting people, not only rational actions and discussions.
    ( ….)
    The basic need is to be charmed by something with other people and take part in something jointly, yet feeling like an independent individual. ”

    Heli, why do you write ‘New’ tribes?

    • New tribes are springing up here and there, all the time, arise and dye.
      The radio programme which inspired me to write, handled new social phenomena.

      Similar elements can be recognized in history too, do you think so?

  3. Thanks for yet another lovely post Heli , and for the way that you seem to provoke a very different style of comments than some of those on Simon’s post. I know that you have a background in Action Research that has provoked, particularly in education, some very interesting multi-method, multiple perspectives, and interdisciplinary approaches to research and practice, so we can all benefit from your experience. Thinking about your last paragraph, I would even go further, we need scientific research, qualitaitve research (of various hues) and blogs, social interaction, etc. Jenny and I have discussed ways of presenting our research that complements the more formal research publication and as you know, we blog and comment, give presentations, facilitate workshops, and engage on social media.
    I enjoy reading some of the articles on Hybrid Pedagogy and appreciate its clean look and striking images. I would have no objection citing articles about ideas rather than citing for evidence. However like you intimate, I have been a little troubled by a feeling that there is a new ‘truth’ that Hybrid Pedagogy owns. In we learn that “Hybrid Pedagogy (ISSN: 2332-2098) is an open-access peer-reviewed journal that
    : is not ideologically neutral;” I did briefly discuss this with one of the editors and I think that he suggested in answer to my question (can’t find the tweet) that ideological difference might be grounds for rejection. Now I don’t have any problems with ideology being a criterion for inclusion and I only wish I could track down the article where the editor of a feminist journal described eloquently how they worked to become more inclusive without sacrificing their feminist ideals. However in considering whether or not to submit a ‘different’ style of article, I was struck by this page about submissions (Simon apparently submitted his article 🙂 These 2 points in particular intrigued me “forego traditional citation methods in favor of more dynamic digital media citation practices;
    : reference other work published in the journal, drawing connections and creating dynamic conversations;” That seems to me to be exclusive and almost parochial.

    • Thanks Francess

      I have to say that I haven’t read many publications of Hybrid Pedagogy and I didn’t know their policy. They call it academic! Every time when I have read something in that journal, I have been disappointed in the content and how it was written, opinions without arguments. Peer-review seemed to be a small group of like-minded people.
      But now I see that perhaps I have to read more, they may have an interesting purpose to open academic publication policy. Time will tell.

      Now I have to go to sleep and tomorrow I am far from my computer. Back on Sunday with new fresh thoughts!

    • Hi Frances, Heli et al. Indeed I can confirm (as illustrated in article) I submitted the post to Hybrid Pedagogy.

      I am sure your comments there would be an interesting addition.

      I agree with need for qualitative research of various hues. Would welcome more of your ideas/criteria as to what constitutes for you ‘scientific research’ .

    • Hi Mariana, I greatly appreciate your comments and I have to re-read them and take time for answering. And you have written a new blog in which I could write my comments. ..
      It is great to receive excellent comments while being away last 3 days.

  4. Thanks for this Heli – I understand your English very well and I like clearly expressed thoughts that do not appeal to psychology or learning theory as I do not have a background in these fields. I agree with much of what you say. My intention is also to understand online learning and in particular Massive Open Online Events including MOOCs of various types. There are many unanswered questions such as to what extent can cMOOCs, or indeed rhizomatic learning, be applied in circumstances where participants are not highly-educated self-directed learners. Another concerns ‘content-heavy’ courses in the case of STEM where there is considerably less scope for reflection and debate. I think that these and other questions can only be resolved by evidence-based research and until they are, online courses conducted openly on the public Internet must be viewed as experimental and very appropriate subjects of research, qualitative and quantitative.

    • Thanks Gordon
      I agree with you, we really need research about learning in different moocs.
      We have met on some course or courses, I remember you, so it is nice to meet again!

  5. Thanks Mariana – I liked the annotation.

    Gordon – great points as usual – and the issue of what educators learn from their own participation that is relevant their pedagogical practice is one that challenges me.

  6. Hi Heli, thanks for this post. You say:
    “What I experience is true as such and no evidence is needed”… I may be misunderstanding, but I think you mean research should provide more evidence and not use opinion in lieu of evidence? But I was wondering, isn’t most qualitatitve research (from an interpretive or critical paradigm) based on the belief in the subjective experiences of humans and how they interpret their experience? So I respect the work of Frances and Jenny in bringing out different persepctives of rhizo14 and accept this to be good research that reached diverse opinions (i didn’t discuss it on facebook and blogged that i understand there to have been different perspectives). I keep hesitating to post this comment because I know I sometimes offend unintentonally. Forgive me if my response implies a misunderstanding of what you were trying to say. I’m thinking that none of us need someone else to tell us what our own experience has been (hence autoethnography) but that each individual experience is exactly that: individual, not representative of the whole. Partial. Biased. Incomplete.
    What do you think?

    • Hi Maha and thanks for ur comment. I was away three days and that’s why my comments are late.
      You raised the core question: when can an experience be interpreted as a result (in a research). Of course empirical sciences use empirical material and it is a source of knowledge (I am licentiate in Psychology and know educational sciences as well).
      But I think that a pure experience is so called raw material and it must be handled for research purposes. Autoethnography as a collection of opinions is not valuable in my eyes if the writers are only announcing their feelings.

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    • Great thanks again, Mariana
      I feel that u are a smarter me when u tell others what I meant to say. Thanks

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