This week has been less about output and more about observation. I diverted much of the energy that I had previously been expending towards pushing out content, reflections, etc. towards the observation of my chosen ethnographic community: eLearning Africa.
As an active member of this community for years, I had taken for granted certain elements of my adherence to the community over the years. I had generally benefited from the ongoing conversations, had participated and assisted when called upon to do so, all leading towards the physical conference held yearly in different parts of Africa. This seemed like a natural lifecycle for a community, activity pinned toward a manifesting event. In this instance, it happened to be a conference.
However, switching to observational mode for the purposes of this ethnographic study has proven enlightening as I do see fissure points, less congealed areas of the community. I have seen certain roles, identities, and authority structures wield power; I have seen a vocal minority establishing the flow, pace, and topics for discussion. I have seen energies directed towards #elearning as development and elearning as commerce, the usual mix of vendors and practitioners, teachers and students.
However, what I enjoy most about this community is the lack of concern it exhibits for channels of communication as well as a heft adventurism, a sense of experimentation. I see this all play out in orbits. eLearning Africa represents the center, the place where we all come together to learn and teach, share and build. Then this learning is taken to local orbits, localized spaces and applied. Everyone gleans from eLearning Africa what they can and from there they are encouraged to experiment. Lessons learned are shared at the next year’s event, creating a cycle of development and iterations, a classic pattern.
I have also spent inordinate amount of time with tools and perhaps I leaned towards being clever when I should have spent more time being accurate and representational. It is my assumption now that the tools for presenting the ethnography should be reflective of the community itself. I lost that a bit this week (and this misdirection is reflected in my Lifestream). Lesson learned, knowledge gained and now on to Week 7.