C is for Community

As is the case with most Fridays when the weather is nice in State College I came home and spent the majority of the evening outside in the yard with the kids listening to music. This evening we decided to forgo the typical “Dinner Mix” playlist of grown up favorites and instead played selections from the Sesame Street gang. My little boy, who will be two in September, fell in love with Cookie Monster’s “C is for Cookie.” I’m not going to make the parallel that we are doing the work of children or anything, but I will say that there was a line that resonated with me — “C is for Cookie and that’s good enough for me.” What struck a chord with me is that our approach to community is very similar to what my little man’s interest in cookies feels like … serious. I must say that the power of the local community is emerging and it is good enough for me.

A stretch perhaps, but on target for what I am feeling on and around campus. Let me share a living example … today we had the first meeting of the Learning Design Summer Camp committee members. Typical stuff for higher education in most cases other than the simple truth is that not a single person was assigned to their post. All we did was establish a wiki, share some opening thoughts, and Tweet the existence of the thinking out to those who were listening. A strange thing happened — lots of people contributed. And then they volunteered. Then another even more amazing thing happened — people outside the standard Twitter stream joined the conversation. Community happened.

Our Summer Camp is shaping up to be quite the event. I am personally hoping it pushes a conversation forward related to the tools we’ve been building on campus to support new thinking for teaching and learning. The idea is to get people together to actively engage in discourse that is well beyond the typical “how to” format we all deal with. No matter what I am hopeful to see about 100 of my colleagues working together to think critically about how we design learning spaces. Seems like a very cool thing. It is time we all start to raise the level of our conversations.

All of it shows me once again the power of the collective. It also reminds me just how open and engaged the community is on our campus. I am very proud to be a part of it!

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