Thank you so much to everyone in the CLMOOC community for your incredible contributions to this week’s “Stories and Spaces” Make Cycle. We’re blown away by the variety of makes shared in the Google+ community, on Twitter, and on Facebook that reinforce the power of Connected Learning.
This week’s theme led to some interesting discussion threads that we wanted to highlight. For example, during Tuesday’s Make With Me, we had a thought-provoking conversation about the “clashing” of public spaces, and how groups of people may be included/excluded in those spaces by design. We also discussed ownership and maintenance of public spaces, and how norms are established. Thursday’s Twitter chat exploded our thinking around equity and access even further.
Here are some of our observations about this week:
1. Systems Thinking
The Systems work from Cycle #4 helped or perhaps guided this week’s Make. It gave many participants a lens and frame of reference. Even if some had not participated in last week’s Make, it is clear that the systems discussion colored the discourse about #DoNowPublic.
Ponderings: We wonder if this was a salient method of setting norms or expectations or common values that prepared #clmooc for such a fruitful discussion. We wonder if this inadvertent contextualizing of this week’s cycle set those unspoken norms in a way. Who sets the norms? How? How do we encourage others to return to the norms or do we need to do that?
Helen DeWaard posted a fascinating blog piece about “wayfinding” in systems design – the design of cues in spatial and digital spaces that orient the participant as they navigate their experience in that space. She observed the cues that invited her to engage in the #clmooc: “My actions are determined by sites that catch my eye, just as sights do in physical spaces. I’m navigating my way through and it’s only now, close to the end of the journey, that I can look back at where I’ve been – finding my way forward while sometimes looking back.”
Janelle Bence’s six-word story about #DoNowPublic
2. Invitation to Access
The notion of an invitation to engage in public spaces was mentioned numerous times. When Susan Watson created the HackPad and invited people to collaborate in that space, that’s when energy and activity picked up. It was an invitation. People accepted and contributed. Throughout the week, there would be several more invitations. Even the Google+ platform itself invites participation, and there was a feeling of ownership and accountability to contribute/respond to one another’s Makes.
The notion of invitation had much to do with “welcoming” the public into the space. This characteristic of feeling “welcome” was explored much during the Twitter Chat.
Several folks emphasized the difficult and constant work of “welcoming” participation in public spaces. It’s not as easy as “build it and they will come” – people who may not be familiar with a space or the events happening there need special welcoming attention, and constant encouragement to stay engaged and interested.
Ponderings: What creates this sort of participatory culture in other spaces? What happens when people stop participating or contributing to that space? Is is no longer public or just obsolete? The tree in the forest conundrum.
via Kim Douillard’s post on Public Privilege.
3. Equity and Access
How quickly the discussion turned to equity! An interesting piece to note was the idea of not only people who felt they were never granted access in the first place but there were also those who first felt welcomed and then lost that access for whatever reason. This sentiment of leaving or being pushed out of a public space could be due to a change in “norms” of that space, change in the participant, hostile or exclusive behavior on the parts of other members to the space, feeling unsafe whether it be in schools or on a discussion area, etc. Check out Kim Douillard’s blog post on Public Privilege and Susan Watson’s blog post about discriminatory design in public spaces.
Ponderings: Can someone leave a public space whether by choice or by feeling excluded and return at another time? Is the invitation a one-time event? Is there any way to feel full buy-in and regain the urgency to contribute significantly? Here were a few tweets from the Twitter chat that questioned how we design access:
4. Spaces were Physical and Virtual
There was almost an even division between makes that involved digital versus physical public spaces. Xiaogao Neil Zhou made an intriguing observation: we can digitalize physical spaces (creating greater opportunities for connection across space and time) and physicalize digital spaces (meeting new people in digital spaces). Here is a video from him that elaborates on this intersection:
Xiaogao Neil Zhou, CLMOOC Cycle 5
Susan Watson’s “Accidental Pumpkin Vine”
5. Organic Ebb and Flow or Remaining True to Original Purpose/norms?
Some addressed the tension between public spaces aiming to be inclusive and individuals hacking the space into what they need it to be, resulting in some exclusive behavior or violation of norms. Susan Watson’s story of “the accidental pumpkin” invading her yard was a vivid example of nature “hacking” a public space and creating something unexpected and beautiful (possibly in violation of her Homeowners Association guidelines). Of course there are always the negative “hackers” (park vandals, online trolls, etc.) but ultimately our discussions seemed to lead to an appreciation for opening public spaces as widely as possibly to participation and often reinvention.
We are looking forward to seeing what you share in Make Cycle #6. The last make cycle begins on Monday with the National Park Service. We’re excited to see you continue learning, playing, and making!
We hope you feel free to continue making and engaging dialogue around stories and public spaces!
Thank you for making with us!