Is Knowing When to Cocoon a 21st Century Skill?

photo courtesy - TheGiantVermin on flickr

Connecting, collaborating, creating, and critical thinking are the 21st century ‘C’ words we hear a lot about these days.  I’m wondering if we need to add cocoon to that list — is it as important a part of transformation as our connectedness?

I guess it’s not a surprise that the longer I delve into understanding learning, and try to find those opportunities to go deeper,  the more complicated it gets.  That’s a good sign – I’m sure.  Last week was a chance to join my colleagues in the PLP ConnectU Community in Australia as they delve deeper into their journey as a connected, networked, learning community interested in deepening their practice with respect to PBL and developing a PLN.

My mentor and critical friend,  Peter Skillen and I both attended the excellent sessions led by  Will Richardson with a focus on networks and communities.   Will mentioned this new landscape of networked learning where we have the potential to be learning 24/7.    Peter and I have had many chats lately about the effectiveness of our PLN and our need to put some checks in place to make sure that, as he puts it, we are ‘zooming out’ in order to see the big picture.

Largely because of this post by George Siemens which I found through Stephen Downes’ blog and because Peter has been pointing me to some other folks who are thinking more critically about connectedness  (and in particular social media),  I’m attempting that zoom out.  Although there has been some push-back about social media, it continues to be a big part of my learning these days and I think some time spent thinking more metacognitively about balance and purpose is where I’m at.   Couple that with the thinking my PLP group has been doing around promoting creativity in the classroom and some questions arise for me:

  • what is the purpose of my network vs my online communities?
  • how am I controlling the flow of information that is coming at me, or is it controlling me?
  • I’m gravitating towards more collaborative work that involves a different kind of connection than something like twitter – what should I be recommending to others just starting down this path?
  • is my PLN diverse enough?
  • am I spending my time where it most benefits my learning?
  • do I set aside enough solitary time?

I’m finding that a big part of learning in this new space where information flows so freely is to know when to cocoon, take some alone time, do some reflecting or solitary thinking and then emerge once again to join in the conversations!

What about you…how do you try to keep a balance?  Or do you?

courtesy of Creativity+TimothyKHamilton