A year ago today I had an inkling that I had struck lucky. I had overcome the first challenge of the day by successfully finding where I was supposed to be going with all the confidence of a sniffer dog! A quick sweep of the training venue, the fabulous Wallace Space, revealed a kitsch 50’s style toilet with complementary smellies, a posh cafe providing a lavish breakfast (my second of the day) and the promise of a thai curry for lunch. All boxes ticked!

It was not what I was expecting however, and neither was the rest of the day. On 10th May 2010 with a keen mind and wearing a knitted tank top, I embraced new technology. I didn’t think that we’d make a good match but a year on, we are still going strong! We have connected through social media, slightly more competent IT skills and a love of digital innovation. On our first anniversary, it seems fitting to reflect on how what was initially a 100hr challenge has paid dividends and proved to be the most influential CPD opportunity in my career.

Why so? Well, I have recently been reading Charles Handy’s ‘Gods of Management’ and have discovered that I fit best into a Dionysian culture. Dionysian’s learn from life, by immersion and by new experiences. They can be difficult creatures to manage and Handy describes in a nutshell, their feelings towards self development: ‘Dionysians will resent any attempt by others, particularly an organisation, to plan their futures or to develop their abilities. They want opportunities, but demand the right to choose between them.’ Hmmm, approach with caution.

The training that I attended (led by Ewan McIntosh and funded by CCE) was elective, I wasn’t sent or made to go; I wanted to be there and I wanted to learn. Touch paper lit, I launched myself  like a rocket on a voyage of techno-discovery. Over the last year, through 365 hours+ of digital exploration rooted in social media my world has become more vibrant, challenging and fulfilling:

  • Twitter has given me access to an army of brilliant minds; I have posed questions, offered opinions, read research and been inspired by innovation on a daily basis (in 140 characters or less!)
  • WordPress  has encouraged me to reflect and document on what I do and why I do it, improved my IT skills and helped me to connect to the wider world
  • Facebook, Tumblr and Flickr hold the processes and products of my first online project and encourage collaborations and random encounters

Like a viral marketing campaign, my enthusiasm for social media has spread through my work. I have encouraged and supported teachers and creative practitioners through Creative Partnerships at Fulbridge School of Creativity and St Mary’s Change School to use blogs to reflect on and document their creative journeys. The quality and volume of blogged material has been overwhelming and creates a persuasive argument for the use of social media in the classroom.

My family have not escaped unscathed from the social media onslaught either! My 10 year old son Jude has become a competent blogger. Previously a reluctant writer, he will now happily write about places he’s visited and ‘stuff’ he’s done peppering his compositions  with slideshows of photographs he’s uploaded.

Embracing web 2.0 technology has enriched my life. What I am most surprised about is what I have learnt about the social meaning of creativity. I realize that I have only dipped my toe in the water but with a background in community based participatory arts I am hungry to develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between making and sharing creative material online and doing it in the real world. This will keep me going for the next 365 hours at least and will be formally captured through my MA dissertation. I have just bought David Gauntlett’s ‘Making is Connecting’ and after I have cast Handy aside I think his discourse of how creativity, craft and community intersect I’ll be off on my next adventure!

If you haven’t taken a peek already, please do check out my online project ‘We Found Art’ and get involved. If you are reading this and we’re friends on facebook or you follow me on twitter, thank you for the companionship (and more) that you have contributed to my amazing learning journey! I will stop now before I descend into an Oscar style speech… If I cry, I may fuse my keyboard and will be restricted once more to old skool learning!

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