A Community of Consensus

I love a good think. #el30 has felt like a lovely stretch. My mind feels exercised. 

I am rubbish at following set rules, and in that vein I have come to write this post four times and left the screen blank each time. Here goes.

Some reflections on #el30 so far

My experience is one of value. I value the ‘nobody knows you’re not a dog on the internet’ principle. Everyone in #el30 has come to it with an openness and, yes, with a layer of trust in the way they have been willing to engage with concepts that are not their specialism and post about them. The nature of the topics chosen for each week means that nobody will be ‘expert’ in all of them, and it helps that Stephen has occasionally said that he is learning too. In short this course is not a gallery of finished pieces, being pranced around or broadcast as promotion of expertise. It’s in the doing, the talking, the watching one another and becoming aware of how you might experience differently to me or another person. 

I value the non-bias, respectfulness, and helpfulness of everyone. I know very little about the other people, and whatever they/I present on each topic is taken at face value, not in a prior context with expectations or limitations. Each person is a valid and valued source of learning and of connection. For me, that’s how it should be, and sometimes people of whatever group – students and teachers, young and old, professional and amateur- do hold biases and get shoehorned into boxes. We could all be dogs (or cats – I’m probably a cat really). It has been really beautiful how different people have expressed their understanding of various concepts, whether through visuals, numbers, words, associations. The kaleidoscope of perspectives helps broaden my own understanding. 

I value the freedom and the tether. There is no requirement to participate in any way: freedom. At the outset in the introduction Stephen encouraged people to take what they liked, dip into a module that they were interested in and that’s ok. Yet, if someone does choose to do more, their posts are shared in the newsletter: a tether that connects us. In a perhaps unintentional, very visual way of connecting us and our content, we each are part of the page in this book. 

For me there is consensus – even if comes from a small group. All have the invitation and opportunity for contribution; all those who have seen something about #el30 could contribute throughout the course. What about the timestamp of this particular task and the limited number of respondents? Well communities change. This task represents a snapshot, an aspect of this small community, and those choosing to participate now demonstrate a consensus.  It is not a complete consensus of all engaging peripherally or occasionally with the course. That would be another type of consensus. 

p.s. We’re really not dogs (or even cats). In a previous something, Kevin and I had a random connection. We were selected as a pair (by someone who neither knew us or knew that we had ever engaged online) to write & recorded an original song together.

You never know what connections might happen in the most unexpected ways and places when you engage and allow for unseen possibility. 

Here’s to the weeks to come in #el30. 

Featured image CC BY by Joan Clifford of the artwork titled Morning Star 


  1. jennymackness

    I like your reference to ‘freedom and tether’, which I interpret to mean that a balance between the two leads to good learning.

    This sort of balance is something some colleagues and I researched in relation to emergent learning in open learning environments. We suggested that too much openness (freedom?) can lead to chaos, which can have a negative effect on learning, but equally the opposite end of the scale can constrain learning too (i.e. a closed, confined environment). Like you, I appreciate the balance in this course. Thanks for sharing your reflections.

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