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in praise of the simmer…

July 17, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

The past two days I’ve been involved in the #ed1to1 Twitter experience. The idea is that participants read a short article by Audrey Watters and then tweet questions, observations, connections, etc. using a common hashtag. #ed1tot is part coursework participation for students enrolled in an actual course with University of PEI, part “field trip to the land of sloooooooow” for those of us who are from the Twitter Journal Club (#tjc15) tribe, and part experimentation in the power of a hashtag to, for a short time, unify a diverse group of people.

I came to #ed1to1 via #tjc15. Each month I enjoy taking part in the breathless hour of live reading and live tweeting that is #tjc15. The experience is academic adrenaline and by the end of it I’m consistently both exhausted and exhilarated with new potential. In addition, I’ve established a solid community of connections, thus my participation has not only helped build my literature confidence…it’s also helped build confidence in my own voice.

I came to #ed1to1 wondering how the general ethos of #tjc15 would hold up in a long-term format. Would the experience be even better because there would be a whole parcel of students doing this in the context of a class? Would it be harder to engage “strangers” as opposed to the regulars? Would the experience be a bit flat without the condensed time frame to activate the fervor? Or, would the experience be better because it wasn’t forced into such a short time and could more organically ferment?

Though these ideas are admittedly not fully formed, what follows are a couple reflections of my experience.

  1. Meeting new people is amazing.
    Having the infusion of course participants (many of whom were just coming to this format) was really fun. Reading their reactions, seeing the ways they expressed themselves, and feeling the overall cautious enthusiasm that they had for the experience was energizing. It seems I’ve spent most of the last year feeling like the “network new kid.” Connecting with the newbies and doing what I could to encourage and listen made me realize how much I have grown in the past year. In addition I realized again how important it is to keep the circle open to new fresh voices as my default tends more toward listening to the reverberation of the big.
  2. Embrace the slow simmer
    One of the best features of the traditional #tjc15 is its fast past. In one hour you are in and out of an article and also a treasure trove of archived tweets that include any juicy bits that may have been missed. That said, over the past two days I’ve learned much about the value of the “slow simmer” of learning. The pace of #ed1to1 has meant that rather than be a fast and furious in and out, it’s been something I’ve checked into, checked out of, and checked into again many hours later. In the past with #tjc15 I thought about the topics discussed for a few hours after the session but generally it was relegated to the “lisa-as-doctoral-student” part of my day, divorced from the “lisa-as-a-human” part. Because of the timespan, the topics/ideas that I’ve encountered have woven themselves into my daily life in a holistic manner. Though I would be lying to say I am naturally programmed for slow…I have learned through this experience that slow infuses in ways previously unimagined.
  3. Make room for the metareflection.
    Last night (in a delightful long-form twitter conversation that quickly spiraled into its own tangent) Autumm Caines (@Autumm) introduced the word “metareflection.” According to Autumm, Metareflection is “considering your reflection of said topic.” Basically it means not just reflecting on a given idea but reflecting on your reflection on a given idea. Though initially I dismissed the idea as being too heady for daily life. After being engaged in a somewhat active dialogue unrelated to the article but completely related to the experience of #ed1to1, I realized that there is much to be said for this more meta/digestive form of reflection that, in this case, occurs in community. In thinking back on this experience and what I will ultimately take away, I will for sure remember the article and all the great writing Audrey Watters has done. In addition I will takeaway the common ideas that seemed to come up like risk, voice, safety, etc. That said, I will equally remember the more meta stuff of connecting with people I never knew before who are worlds away from. In addition, I will remember the ways being open and willing to engage seemed to spiral into discussions that, on the surface had nothing to do with the article topic, yet managed to flesh out so many more things I would have ever thought on my own. Reflecting on the reflection of engaging in a long-form Twitter conversation…#genius.

Though I have no idea how the actual students this was made for might have faired or what a social network analysis might look like overall, I think the experience was a success. Though a lot of this proclamation is based on my own experience thus feels a bit selfish…I think it would hold true for most of the participants involved. The hash tag provided the scaffold to connect and became a bit like a new neighborhood restaurant that everyone comes initially for the food but then ends up staying because—though the food is great—the conversations and chance to connect with people you haven’t seen in awhile or new people you’ve never met becomes the main event.

In closing, bravo #ed1to1 crew! Though Tweets often feel ephemeral…its brave and important work to connect and engage. Thanks for taking the risk and sharing your words. This experience has certainly added to my follower/following totals but even more (and admittedly pardon how cliché this sounds) it’s given me a renewed vision of how large the world is and the delightful thing that is engaging with so many people who are so different from me. I’ve been so focused on trying to narrow my upcoming thesis project, I’ve assumed somewhat solo tunnel vision regarding the voices I listen to and engage with on a daily basis. This experience reminded me that there is tremendous value in connecting much wider than the narrow confines of my own mind and discipline.

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