The Fine Art of Surfacing Ideas in a Community of Learners

What I know about ocean currents can be summarized in one short sentence, “When being pulled away from shore, swim sideways.”

The ocean is a big beautiful and frightening place. When I saw the image below I instantly recognized it from middle school earth science class. Why it is the world’s ocean currents I said to myself. No doubt you made the connection too. How beautiful.

January 18th analysis of #etmooc

And so has the connectivity gone in my experience with these online lands and oceans. Amazing people to hear and see and listen to. Amazing written words and images coming from far away. And there is also the right here, the right now, of my community and my keyboard and my reflection on these things.

After the first week and a single short post as an introduction, here I am, wondering again what I have gotten myself into. The last time I jumped in, I swam with really inspiring people who pushed me to learn and participate. The last time I jumped in I had the same feeling of worry about the potential and the power of the current. The last time I jumped in I was, for a moment, bitten by the cold and gasped for a breath. The last time I jumped in I was rewarded with a beautiful swim.

S0 I will try to get the courage to jump again. (I realize now that I had written about this same idea, sort of, with a post title the same in January of 11′ )

I am excited to see how the G+ community goes and I will participate there. I hope. That is a place I have usually played the voyeur. We will see.

I had one nice moment of that ocean rolling over me already this week. Yesterday, I saw that Stephen Downes had posted the remark about a blog post by James Lambert on and the title caught my eye as I just submitted a proposal to Educause with a similar title: Your Home in the Digital Landscape: To Rent or Buy?

In the post James looks at social media and the loss of control with third party tools and runs right alongside the more academic version of “A Domain of One’s Own.” The folks, like Gardner Campbell and Jim Groom and many others, who have been pushing for educators and students to own their own space has hugely influenced how I see academic environments (both in classrooms and online) and how I work with teachers. And all those ideas came rushing towards me, like waves rolling across the beach, from the last two moocish experiences I have had: the Program for Online Teaching and ds106.

And all this reminds me of the title to one of my favorite albums and another hero of mine, Bob Geldof. The title is “The Fine Art of Surfacing” and I am thinking that these conversations and communications I have had over the last couple years in moocland have helped me to “surface” questions and ideas about teaching and learning. And there is no doubt a fine art to how things come to the surface. And how to improve one’s ability to allow these things to surface. Hmmm. Surfacing in the chaos big breakers….

The Fine Art of Surfacing Ideas in a Community of Learners. That is why I am here.

And now, with two songs off their hit album The Fine Art of Surfacing, The Boomtown Rats!

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