Singapore happens on different levels during this trip.
One is a reinforcement, coming together of the Sea Salt team in person. I have been working with two members for six months and have only met them in person less than a handful of times, combined. However, the fact that we are a team cannot be disputed. Our in person relationships are solidified by very active social media groups, where our brains, thousands of kilometres apart, connect. When we do meet in person, it is easy. Don’t be fooled however, the distance does not erase the politics, relationships, group dynamics, undercurrents and motivations.
My approach to participating in Sea salt is transparency and benefit of the doubt, I’m an eager beaver! I believe in Sea Salt and want this start up to be successful. I’m invested.
Another level is that we are all here to open the Singapore ‘office’ and contribute to forward momentum, with a bang! As such, the Singapore lead has planned a couple of speaking engagements for Julian, as well as meetings with possible clients and partners in the region. As I am currently in Australia (part of my motivation for going there is to be closer to Singapore in the spirit of launching the region rather than the country).
The third level is meeting a new potential team mate who is looking around and curious about what Sea Salt could offer.
My week is spent externally facing, trying to find where I fit, what I can bring, with my instructional design and adult education background, armed with my personality and willingness to participate.
What is my role in Sea Salt?
I’m good at my explicit role: Social Learning Design Lead. However, in the lean times, that role doesn’t have much work so part of my move to digital nomadry and Australia, SEAPAC is to explore what more I can offer, what else I can swing.
It’s a whirlwind trip, full of comraderie, visits to beautiful sites and getting to know Julian and Bala better, talking about the future of the organization. I’m being shown a good time and I like it!
What is coming out of my association with Sea Salt so far is this: exposure to more of the language that I used during my time at Arigatou: online community, blended, transformative learning, with the added realization that where community happens isn’t always where we plan it to happen. In my experience at Arigatou for example, we ticked all the boxes: stakeholder involvement, feedback on design from those who would be using the platform. However, where people were most active was on a FB private message. Completely unplanned and informal. I remember when I first met Julian at LSCon, that was the question I asked at the morning coffee talk: why? Why aren’t people using our space? His coherent response was that our platform was a formal space, by the simple fact that we set it up, as an organization. The conversations, the sensemaking, the sharing happens in informal spaces. Later, I would connect my experience to the idea/necessity of losing control. As a teacher, I was not about tracking learning, I tried to create spaces, activities, opportunities for learning to happen. This is about translating that philosophy online.
So, Sea Salt gives me opportunity to talk about it, to take control of my own sense making and reflective destiny, to dare to experiment, fail and try again, and as a result match my values with my job.
This trip and participationg in Sea Salt in general I’ve learned a lot about the questions people ask, the why, the importance of community, as well as the how. What motivates or should motivate organizations to foster online community? How can it fit in as part of the greater strategic goals of an organization? A lot of what we talk about, for me, hearkens back to my graduate thesis on informal learning by volunteers in a community-based organization and what I learned through my research.
For example, when making the case for Sea Salt, Julian talks about the the knowledge economy and how it is changing, which is visible when you are active in online communities: the value of knowledge, the value of expertise is decreasing. What is increasing in value are connections, being part of communities where sense making conversations happen, where people are working out loud, working together, putting the theory of communities of practice into real terms, experimenting with how and what knowledge is produced.
Since joining Sea Salt I have been exploring, recognizing and accepting my communities, which I have increased activity in and seen sensemaking discussions happen spontaneously, in, for me, unexpected places. I personally have seen the changes in how social media is used, in my admittedly limited use of it. Where status updates used to be about breakfast foods and my mood when I woke up, I saw the trend to post inspirational quotes spring up, trend, be ridiculed and disappear. Community happened around me when I just embraced the fact that my life has an online component as well as offline. One does not negate or diminish the other, and both are rich, rewarding and necessary. As with anything, it’s all about balance. Finding my balance and accepting myself played a big role in discovering who my communities are.
I see Sea Salt as an opportunity to use all of my skills and knowledge, my experience, not just as an instructional designer and teacher, as a wannabe academic. As it is a startup, there should be opportunity, room to ‘run with it’.
Singapore, with its beautiful landscape, busy and bustling city, full of hustle, is a non-stop adventure. Everyone is doing something, working an angle, finding the places where we intersect. It’s energizing as a city. It’s an energetic and optimistic time for me, full of possibility.