Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 4 seconds

Process for Connecting

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 4 seconds

I’ve been thinking for a while and a lot today about my process for connecting, especially in a new cMOOC… or in general, really, because sometimes I have spurts of connecting with people outside of any formal or informal context…

Then I came across this really interesting post by Teresa MacKinnon (thanks to Simon Ensor who pointed me to the graphic on google+). I saw the graphic before I read the post – and decided to hack it. It’s important to note, though, that the post talks from the perspective, I think, of a designer of a learning environment/experience and how to make it such that it promotes collaboration.

Collaboration Pyramid by Teresa MacKinnon CC-BY
Collaboration Pyramid by Oscar Berg CC-BY found on Teresa MacKinnon’s blogpost (linked above)

My hack, on the other hand, takes it from a learner’s perspective, and how to create collaborative opportunities as a learner. I sort of didn’t like the pyramid idea, but liked all the words floating around Teresa’s image. I also think a lot of what happens is cyclical and overlapping so I tried to capture that in my hack.

Before I post my hack (still working on it as I type this post) – I don’t understand the visibility continuum she is using. If the first thing you do is make self visible & participate, then how is that low visibility? So I’m starting with finding/discovering people; then connecting (on smaller level of following on twitter, liking/favoriting, and later commenting on their blogs or retweeting them). I think the sharing what we know/think can be on a small level that is focused on connecting with others (like comment on another’s blog) or on a more extensive level focused on expression (blogging) – although you can be extensive and blog to connect (like doing “curation” blogs where you link to other people’s blogs as well). I’m working on trying to make it more cyclical than linear; trying to make it less hierarchical as well because each of these things can be done at different levels, so I am also posting possible ways of doing each thing via social media…

So here is my messy version (this took loads of patience because piktochart was soooo slow because I was uploading videos to dropbox – I know, my mistake! So i ended up just doing the arrows on my iPad coz they wouldn’t load on the laptop anyway I’ll do a fancier thing later)

Process for Connecting (rough draft)
Process for Connecting (rough draft – excuse the mis-attribution, the image is by Oscar Berg CC-BY but I found it on Teresa’s blogpost, so…)


I am not a very visual person so I feel compelled to explain my design. I’m trying to say that we begin approaching connection with our own purposes, values, motivations, etc., and those lead us to finding people but also sometimes lead us to sharing our interests… and sometimes doing either of these will encourage us to start connecting/relating with others, and these actions go both ways… and usually the more connect to others and post your own thoughts, the more you can contribute/participate more heavilty, e.g. with curation posts that build on and link to the work of others. Through all of this discovery and connection with others, there is opportunity to build trust, and sometimes, if you look hard enough, you’ll find opportunities to collaborate – and through those, sometimes you find yourself revising your initial purpose, motivations, etc.

This idea is still a work-in-progress – happy to hear feedback; I think Simon Ensor already had feedback on twitter 😉 which I’ll consider and come back…

7 thoughts on “Process for Connecting

  1. No pyramids in Egypt, eh? I get the problems if the linear/hierarchical representation. To me, it’s something that cannot be captured in two dimensions.

    But the spectrum of participation is a better interpretation from the lurker classification (and what is the opposite of a lurker, a barker?), that there is a range of ways to be doing something other than stuff that gets attention.

    I had a flashback to my early experiences in online communities, which in the mid 1990s was a listserv. There was really only one mode of contributing which is posting/replying. Starting out I can say I felt lurking, trying to learn who was who, and noticing the patterns of participating, the dominant voices, and the lesser so ones that said more in fewer words. There was one extreme “loud” person who consistently criticized others, and proclaimed his own expertise.

    So I just read and observed for a few weeks. When I felt like I was ready to contribute something, to answer a question, I took a long time to compose my reply. And did I ever get flamed out by “G.G.” I was so embarrassed I did not respond again for weeks or more, and slowly, cautiously made smaller adds, and also grew my own confidence. In time, I was less vulnerable to being criticized.

    I cannot say this is a viable way to onboard people, but I learned a lot from that experience, that I can still feel the shame (which was more mine that anyone else’s).

    I say all that because I ended up moving along some scale of risk, vulnerability, confidence.

    I see the low visibility / high as a gradient too. Maybe instead of visibility (which gets hack to language of lurking and hiding), it is a range of vulnerability or risk? At her high visibility, you are likely to be challenged, disagreed with, or maybe just end up being wrong. Or maybe you take on more responsibility?

    And are there ways to look at the kinds of participating, sharing resources is valuable, but what about creating things? quoting/retweeting versus reframing and synthesizing?

    1. Yes, i like your shift towards risk/vulnerability instead of visibility. That resonates with me a lot, and is another layer that’s I think more important… And possibly what stops some people from participating in open learning? The risk or vulnerability are difficult or the potential learning is not worth that risk?
      I don’t know, though, that we become less vulnerable, so much as we become comfortable in our vulnerability, in allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.
      I say this, of course, theoretically, and am not referring to extreme issues like harassment, etc. but talking about relatively low-conflict learning environments and communities, where you may risk criticism, ridicule, or carelessness, but nothing major or truly harmful in ways that are more serious.

    2. I think for me it is a lot like a language that you are learning. Observation, quiet time, is essential to being able to contribute anything at all apart from adding to sign-up stats. I still remember tweeting Steve Wheeler to ask him if it was ok to comment on his blog.

      We are all so different and as you say there are so many different ways of participating. For me writing a blog was to be able to express myself in anyway I felt fit. I didn’t want to fit. I didn’t see any interest of spending my time replicating what had already been done – a tech blog – a conference blog – etc. I also needed a space to express myself artistically because that’s how I learn best with.

      I couldn’t really contribute as I might have in a history classroom because I felt there was so much research and learning to be done before opening my mouth. I have gradually picked up the conversations and am now able to position myself with total ignorance.

      I think for a lot of people there is that question – what is my particular added value?

      I think answers start with saying nobody has anymore value than anybody else, however knowledgable, clever, funny, drop-dead gorgeous avatarish they are.

      I am fed up with classes where we have to concentrate on outcomes after 6 weeks…

      The MOOC completion stats make me roll with laughter particular as a lot of the guys investing don’t give a damn about learning but about return on their investment. I blogged about this stuff – participation/outcomes/ etc.

      This is not a race.

      I’d rather arrive last on time.

  2. I guess that the top of her pyramid is “visible” in the sense that it is the group of activities that is most public, and most discussed in articles about collaboration.

    I like the cyclic layout you created. Based on that, my way of expressing it linearly:
    1. Purpose, values, self-awareness, and motivation. (private study; journaling)
    2. Find and discover people. (find and observe communities)
    3. Connect and relate. (follow, like/favorite/+1, say hello)
    4. Share what you know, have, and think. (tweet, retweet, comment)
    5. Active participation, open to replies, (blog, make things)
    6. Form team with mutual goals.
    7. Coordinate and plan.
    8. Act.
    9. Evaluate the results.

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