This week I’ll enjoy Thanksgiving with my husband and family. Our custom before the big meal—with glass in hand—is for each of us to give thanks for someone or something in our lives. I would like to import that tradition into this post by honoring the people in my learning bubbles for inspiring, informing, and guiding me to learn and do this year.
You might be asking what learning bubbles are.
Learning bubbles are the people and forums we select or create to explore and work on issues that matter to us. It could be a group that uses the Comments feature to discuss a blog post on the author’s website. Or the people who participate in an online course or lab or even a LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter discussion that extends for several hours or days. Or it could be an affiliation that lasts years because “…learning bubbles are ephemeral – connections may or may not form into more substantial bubbles – communities of practice, perhaps, and connections that have been in existence fade away. They may exist in the context of organizations or may float on their own.” Learning bubbles may be online, blended, and/or face-to-face opportunities.
My colleagues—Lisa Levinson and Lyn Boyer—and I constitute a learning bubble in the Studio. Our 18 month partnership has taken us from a seed of an idea to a business model manifested in the offerings on this website. Our learning is the work and our work is the learning as Harold Jarche would say. We would have given up long ago had we tried individually to tackle this “learn, lead, connect online” social learning business aka the Studio. It’s much better to pool our ideas and creative energies to build something meaningful together. And the vitality that we each bring to the work recharges the others. Our bubble swelled with 20+ website beta testers in August and September. We are grateful to them, especially Susan Fickey, who helped us clarify our purpose and vision.
Brelido is the short-hand reference that Brenda Kaulback, Lisa Levinson, and I have given our action research group on online community facilitation/stewarding. Among other things, we plan and convene discussions in CPSquare, synthesize key points, and then publish summaries on the CPSquare blog and elsewhere. We use a variety of free and paid channels to communicate via video, audio, and chat from Maine, New York, and Florida. The special video effects of Hangouts leaven our interactions with humor and laughs.
CPsquare entered my life more than ten years ago through Nancy White. Nancy is an expert practitioner of online and graphic facilitation who shares my fondness for dark chocolate and photography, and a founder of CPsquare’s foundations course on communities of practice. “CPsquare is an international community with members from all kinds of organizations who play many different roles that involve supporting or understanding community of practice.” In CPsquare, my learning is expedited and supported by dear peers like John Smith, Barb McDonald, Bronwyn Stuckey, Alice McGillivray, Lotte Krisper-Ullyet, and Jenny Mackness among others. They connect me to ideas being born around the globe.
My Encore Tampa Bay learning bubble is led by Bevan Gray-Rogel, a friend of longstanding. Encore Tampa Bay’s purpose is to help baby boomers build “a second or third act that combines personal meaning with social impact and continued income.” Networking with Encore Tampa Bay leaders allows me to develop my long held interests in gerontology, community development, and aging well online. I contribute my expertise and support local outreach to baby boomers. Bevan is a master network weaver; fearless at reaching out, and gifted at seeing the potential for mutually beneficial relationships that she facilitates with introductions.
My Bloggers and Writers learning bubbles are many in number. I follow 20+ online thought leaders that I have “met” through their blogs, tweets or workshops. I love to read and absorb their ideas. They create and curate giving me new concepts, language, connections to others, and belief in humanity with their free sharing of ideas. Favorites include Seth Godin, Beth Kanter, Harold Jarche, Nancy White, Stephen Downes, and Maria Popova.
I am grateful to all of you and send best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving!
 Definition used in introduction to the CPSquare-hosted Supporting Independent Online Learners while Supporting Ourselves Community Inquiry convened in October 2013.