I Will Now Go Back To Nowhere In Particular

Here is Disney’s official description of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride:

Keep your eyes peeled because Mr. Toad certainly isn’t watching where he’s going! Climb into your buggy and hang on, because the wacky characters from the Disney classic “The Wind in the Willows” are going to take you on a road trip you won’t soon forget! Prepare for these antic adventures:

  • Begin in an English manor
  • Crash through a fireplace
  • Take a madcap dash through a warehouse chock full o’ dynamite
  • And watch out for that train!

I think this should have been the course description for Introduction to Social Media Communications, which we wrapped up last week.  Seriously — I’m exhausted, but what a fun and wild ride that was.

We’ll keep the course blog up and available for a few months so folks can keep going on the ride over and over if they wish. As for me, I think I will call it a day, but first …

Thanks to celestialspirit13 on Flickr for making this image available!

Thanks to celestialspirit13 on Flickr for making this image available!

We asked our students to post their final reflections on learning about the course, and their comments really got me to thinking about my own learning as a result of teaching this course, so I thought I would post my reflection on learning here.

First, as I wrote about earlier, this course resulted in me questioning the whole idea of expertise.  There are a lot of people who have a lot to say about social media — and can say it easily by using social media — but none of us is an expert. The one thing that’s become super clear to me is that we have to be (HAVE. TO. BE.) ongoing learners and to learn to be comfortable learning through experience. And that requires being comfortable with ambiguity, and that’s a hard thing to be comfortable with!

In essence, we all are writers of the user’s guides; we are creators of the programs; we are active participants in the development of the technology and in the development of the various uses of the technology — and none of us is an expert. I think that’s a good evolutionary development for us as a species. It goes against the paradigm that there are “experts” who know “more” about any given topic, a notion that appeals greatly to the social constructivist in me.

What’s interesting about this key learning, however, is that I’ve been asked to lead a Coffee & Conversation session at Life By Design NW this week about social media, as if I were an expert, as if I had something to say about the topic. As if …! I’ve been thinking a lot about how to do so, and all that comes to me is that the adage about “the more you learn the less you know” totally applies to me here. So here is new information about this Coffee & Conversation session that I will be leading:

Workshop Title: I Know Nothing [About Social Media] Compared To What There Is That Can Be Known

Workshop Description: I will happily talk to you about everything that I don’t know.

This leads me to my second key learning. In order to engage in experiential learning — whether it be about social media specifically, technology more generally, or even more generally, anything — we must be courageous. It took a lot of courage on the part of many of our students to dip their big toes into the pool in which the even the shallow end was infinitely deep. I admire that courage, and I need to remember to try to tap into that sweet mixture of fear and passion whenever I am trying something new that freaks me out, such as skydiving or hanging drywall.

Finally, I think my third key take away is how energizing it is to develop and teach a new course — and to teach it with someone.  Yeah, yeah — trial and error, plan and re-plan and all that, but really, that was fun and I appreciate that my brain was so engaged and got such a great workout.

As for this traveler, my wild ride is over for a little while — I will go back to being an everyday user of social media, potentially going nowhere in particular again. I am *sure* my Facebook friends will gladly welcome back my blithering status lines about walking my new dog and pictures of my kid littering their walls. If not, they can always “unfriend” me and who would be the wiser?

Only Mr. Toad.


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