cck08 Being there and suddenly very lonely

In a painful (physically, not mentally) and troubled night I have lots of time to think. I several times composed  this blogpost. And I also several times thought why should I. Till yesterday I was happy with the course and all I read and heard from other participants and our two teachers. I wrote a blog about how I felt enriched by being connected. But yesterday, during the Ustreamsession on Elluminate, I suddenly felt very lonely and estranged. “Being there” from Jerzy Kozinski, http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerzy_Kosinski came to my mind. It was of not any importance that I was there, I felt not seen and not heard, I had nothing to say. It was to difficult to read the chat and listen to the session-leaders at the same time. I had the feeling that all other participants knew each other very good and for a long time (know it’s not so, but I felt that way!) “It’s not easy being green” is a beautiful little song of Kermit The Frog ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpiIWMWWVco ). It’s not easy being Dutch, I thought. I have been an educator (or teacher, don’t even know the right word for it) for 33 years now, always in the sphere of middle and higher education of nurses and the last years educating all sort of workers at my institute. I am the only person at my whole institute that two times won the yearly price for great innovational work. I have written many curricula, courses, papers, notes and even (partly) two books and so on, but all in Dutch. So I don’t have anything to give to other participants in this course. And that is a meaningful conclusion for me, learning in a connectivism-way is only pretty if you can share. Oh yes, I do learn, that’s no problem! But I miss the feeling of really being connected to the other learners.  Often I asked myself why I make a Twitter or Jaiku announcement, who is interested? Why should I spent my time on writing on two weblogs, who is really interested. It surely is no complain at all. I just came to the conclusion that it maybe to difficult to be busy with connected learning when you don’t have the possibility to share what you think, what you made, what you are doing. Writing a blogpost in English costs lots of time, so I don’t do that very easy. Telling how in July I made a course for my colleagues about working with Web 2.0 possibilities is to difficult for me in and above that I think all participants in this course have lots of experiences with this kind of work, thus again, why should I. But being up again and (with my laptop) sitting at my big table where many friends and members of the family have been eating, drinking, talking, had fun,  there is the end of the little song, being Dutch if that’s what I am, it’s beautiful, it’s what I want to be. I will go on trying to learn what connectivism is and can mean for me and my colleagues here in the Netherlands. I will discover more and more how I can be in touch with people with the same interests even if I don’t know them and I cannot be deeply involved with them in discussing matters of great importance in education.  Really no complain, just thoughts about connectivism as a useful way of learning for me.

20 thoughts on “cck08 Being there and suddenly very lonely

  1. Having worked in an office where I was just about the only native English speaker, I can sympathise with these feelings.

    It would be great if Elluminate (and other tools) provided a translation feature. Although automated translation is not great, it can at least give a feel for what someone was saying. The fast flowing stream of comment in a typical session (in my experience) can be hard to take in. I find I make a lot of comments (although I wasn’t in this particular session) and I often try to ‘rein myself in’ – but I imagine it doesn’t really look that way to observers.

    This is one of the reasons that I am not actually much of a fan of synchronous communication. Whenever there is an imbalance in fluency, either because of native/non-native language use or because of digital fluency, or disability of some kind (vision, manual dexterity, hearing etc.) it tends to be mediated in asynchronous communication and exacerbated in synchronous.

  2. man-o-man. this is the second serindipidous post I found this week.

    this being the other one:
    http://peterkaptein.wordpress.com/2008/10/23/54/

    for me there is something “hidden” in all this. I keep asking myself “why doesnt it (connected learning if I may) work, like I envisioned it”

    You are revealing a great part of it I think. “Belonging”. That’s why my “motor-sleutelen”/motorgang metaphore works, and “professional (with a P) educator” metaphore is a bit more difficult.

    But not impossible I think.

    Thanks for this insight! (see you are sharing (in English) albeit with me 🙂

  3. “Telling how in July I made a course for my colleagues about working with Web 2.0 possibilities is to difficult for me in and above that I think all participants in this course have lots of experiences with this kind of work, thus again, why should I.” I absolutely do not have experience of this kind, and find colleagues’ sharing extremely valuable.

    One thing I have already taken away from CCK08, as well as my teaching experiences, is that different technologies and different interaction styles work VERY differently for different people. Some of my students are comfortable using instant messenger with me, some hate it. Some enjoy the discussion boards on my wiki, others never use them. Same for us as learners in CCK08. But it’s all good. We can build connections slowly or quickly, via the forum or blogs or Twitter or however, including after the course is officially over, if that suits our natural pace.

    And as someone who has traveled and lived in many places, existed in several languages, I celebrate my international connections particularly highly. Dutch is not one of my languages, sadly, but I have good friends in the Netherlands and am always astounded by their fluency in English (or German, or French, when we choose to communicate that way.) So even if I can’t read your papers, curricula, or whatever, I am happy to feel connected to you even slightly, to benefit from your blog and forum posts. It may be that connections we are making now will only show their value over time – we don’t know yet what we can offer each other. So if the frenetic pace of the course doesn’t work for all of us in the short term, that doesn’t mean we’re not building a useful network. Time will tell.

  4. I love your post, you tell about my feelings.
    Ernst is wise, too: belonginess is the core that is away now.
    I turned to write in Finnish about this course, I have some friends there that are following my Finnish blog. It is different to express oneself in mother tongue, own language.

    Sia described well the situation: to be an excellent developer at work for years, but here: nothing. Everybody can walk by seeing you, no need to answer, no caring about each others.
    We are human beings, not rational machines, we have emotions.

    And we learn, both English language and connectivism 🙂 This is not complain either, only analysis 🙂

  5. Sia

    Thanks for your very open and honest note. Believe me, your feelings have nothing to do with your nationality! In fact, in America we have a saying “Misery loves company!” and CS Lewis has a quote that says “Friendship is when one person says to another ‘I thought I was the only one!’…” So your note made me very happy to realize that I am not the only one who felt as you do, at the same session I believe. I wrote about it in my blog here:
    http://arieliondotcom.wordpress.com/2008/10/23/confessions-of-a-connective-holic/ and I mention there that others felt exactly the same way as reported in the Daily for that day

    The solution I came across was to just keep connecting. That is how I discovered your note (by both of us connecting) which now gives me understanding that the “disconnected” feeling is only part of the “high” of the experience from connecting. When we are connected and acknowledged, able to contribute because of our expertise, we feel like I do when I have eaten a lot of chocolate! 🙂 We get an excited feeling. So not being acknowledged and not feeling as if we can contribute makes us feel lonely and depressed.

    The solution is to do exactly what you have done, posting here in your blog and in the Moodle. Keep connecting. You are valuable. Your contributions are valuable. And that is whether you contribute or not because you are still a part of the network, just in a different stage of giving or receiving. Both are important.

    So thanks again for posting. I will post this in the Moodle, too, so the people who don’t go out to the blogs will know that they, too, are not alone.

  6. Thanks Pat en Bradley in Moodle. After I wrote my post I read many of my feeds in Google Reader and found the last blogs from Heli http://helistudies.edublogs.org/ and Jorgen ? http://ilearner.dk/cck08/?p=131 . Of course they wrote an other story, but I think maybe there where underlying the same feelings I wrote about. Maybe it’s really a problem of being connected world wide, maybe it is just the melancholy of older people in autumn :-). And to Pat, despite the problems I do like being in touch in real time because it brings me discipline!
    Ernst, I had read the blog from Peter and was impressed! Ed, Heli, Ariel, thanks. You all are encouraging. And Ed, may be I will sometime let see in English what I have done. I read the post of Ariel a moment a go and it all comes together, I am Not Alone! If any of you Twitter let me know please, I like to find you there if we are not already connected.

  7. While I don’t have the language issue, I can completely relate to both being up in the night (I hope you got some relief and some sleep eventually) and feeling isolated in this class. While I do not have as much experience as others, and none at all with educational theories, I participate actively because that is how I learn (even when bad things happen, as did in Friday’s session). Everyone in that session was cranky to start with, and it was contagious. To say I left it disillusioned would be an understatement.

    It’s as if we all came into this class as newborns, and must establish our “credentials” (such as they are) all over again to everyone. There are way too many people. A very small group seems to know each other already, and the rest of us are trying to jump into conversations without having any idea of each others’ background. Perhaps we all want “wayfinding” to include people finding their way to us. Some will, most won’t. How can anyone “belong” in such a system?

  8. Dear Lisa, this is the third time I try to write the same delivery, because my laptop let me down.

    Now again; Of course I felt something went wrong Friday between you and mainly Stephen I assume, but I did not understand what was happening. I am, I was, surprised to read you find yourself not so experienced. I thought, trough your posts, your questions, your activities, you were! Please, let my blog not strengthen your negative feelings. In spite of my sorrows I am enjoying this course still very much and I hope I can learn a lot in the future, also from you. I did not read everything you wrote, but it is all in my archive to do so later. So please go on the way you did and don’t let you influence in a negative way.
    With great respect,
    Sia

  9. http://twitter.com/edwebb – I’d love to see what you all do day to day (some of you I’m already following). And Sia, if you do put anything out in English, let me know.

    Lisa, like Sia, I had thought of you as an experienced and valuable contributor, so am surprised you felt uncertain on that score, like you had something to prove. You don’t, so far as I’m concerned. But it is instructive how we can get the illusion of quite deep connection via web2.0 technologies, and yet always have so much more to learn about each other. I’m glad to have encountered you, and many others, via CCK08.

  10. Sia

    I read your post early on Sunday morning in Australia. I am sorry I did not see it earlier so that I could join the group responding to you.

    Writing in the way you do has an enormous impact … much greater than Ustream or Elluminate. It is interesting how synchronous communication develops its own momentum. Two weeks ago I turned of the chat on Elluminate to concentrate on Alec Couros’s presentation. This transformed the session for me.

    Like you I have been in education for over thirty years and I joined CCK08 to extend my understanding. Like others who have responded to you, I share your sense of vulnerability.

    Your post reminded me that you do not have to shout to be heard.

    Keith

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  12. Hi again Sia,

    I do have experience, just not any theoretical knowledge, nor a particular desire to become a theory expert.

    What I meant was that I totally empathasize with feelings of disconnectedness and distance, a lack of a sense of belonging.

    And Keith is right, it isn’t necessary to jump up and down to be heard. I got to your post through the CCK08 tag in Google alerts, so I find you.

  13. Hi Sia,
    What a shame that this time the course did not give a positive feeling, but in fact left you empty-handed at the end of the session.
    Still, the strong and capable person that I know you are, you do not complain about this fact; instead you just comment on it by describing the mood you were in.
    Although I’m not a participant in this course I can well imagine that a massive course such as this can alienate people from time to time, even though the opposite is definitely the purpose of the whole course.
    Just wondering: could it be that a modest person such as yourself does not easily make herself visible and heard among the crowd populating the session, but contributes in a big way in other aspects?

    Every course has its ups and downs in my experience. I still admire your energy and courage for taking part in this gigantic but definitely fascinating enterprise. Keep up the good spirit and as Ed pointed out above:
    “It may be that connections we are making now will only show their value over time – we don’t know yet what we can offer each other. So if the frenetic pace of the course doesn’t work for all of us in the short term, that doesn’t mean we’re not building a useful network. Time will tell.”
    I’ll keep tracking you, all the best !

  14. Hi Sia!
    I am sorry to hear that you were not feeling well a few days ago, I hope you are feeling better now.
    As a non English speaker I can relate very well to your feelings, for me it’s also a time consuming task to write my posts, sometimes I also feel that I cannot share something considered as valuable. The comments on your post let you know that you are not alone, we are not alone. I add myself to them by saying that reading your blog I find a lot of value.
    The sense of belonging is taking long to build, at least for me, and I think is not related to the language we speak or to the level of expertise each one has. I have to elaborate more on this and find a way to put in into words.
    I am glad to see that you are enjoying the course.
    Maru :X

  15. I live in an area of Canada which has a large Dutch population. If you tag your posts with CCK08 and say it is written in Dutch, I could forward your posts to my sister-in-law and ask her to explain it me. The Dutch and Canadians have had close ties since W.W.II. Writing in Dutch may not be the barrier you think. The world is small and interconnected.

  16. Hi Sia

    Thank you for the post – I have enjoyed reading it and all the responses. All I can say is that I admire you hugely taking time to blog in a second language – I can only speak English so appreciate you using this language.

    Networking does take time, I have found. I would say it has taken me 15 months to build a network that I can ‘trust’ with my learning. And often, you and your work has an effect but you never know about it. So keep on doing what you’re doing – you do make a difference.

  17. Hi Sia,

    It seems to me you sure made a connection with a bunch of us! It’s amazing how well we can connect when feelings are exposed and some humanity is shared. I agree with Maru: you are certainly not alone…even if it feels like it sometimes.
    I hope you nights are a little less painful.

    pas op jezelf.

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  19. Sia,

    I appreciate that you took the time and effort to express your ideas and feelings. I also have felt very much alone and alienated in CCK08, and it has only been as the numbers of people in the Elluminate have grown smaller that I have felt comfortable chiming in. I find it more intimidating to talk into the microphone of my headset than in a large group of people whose faces I can see, and trying to keep up with both the text and voice is horrible whether it is in your first language or not! So, you are definitely not alone, and have helped people understand your (and their) experiences with your post. Thanks.

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