“Chance Favors the Connected Mind”

ID-100129789This afternoon I was listening in to one of the #ETMOOC collaborate sessions, tweeting interesting ideas when the moderator, Alec Couros put up a slide with this quote from Steven Berlin Johnson, “Chance Favors the Connected Mind.” Of course it struck me as both interesting and something I thought worthy of sharing so I tweeted it out. Almost immediately Lisa Noble (@nobleknits2) asked me how this was true for me. I decided to mull it over and write about it as I didn’t think that I could do it justice in 140 characters.

First I did what any good learner would do if they did not know the context for the quote, I googled it (using “” around the words so the search would keep the words together as a string). I found this TED talk by Steven Johnson titled,
“Where Good Ideas Come From“, watched it and found even more great ideas which I tweeted out. But the one that still remained intriguing is “Chance favors the connected mind”.

I like it because it states the importance and benefits of being connected. One of the ways I like to stay connected is to take part in Twitter chats like the weekly #edchats that often have hot topics like Homework or the importance of teacher selected professional development, where the tweets fly so quickly that it can make your head spin. The “conversations” are stimulating, engaging, thought-provoking and for me, often make me think and rethink my position and feelings. The great thing about these chats and Twitter in general, is that it allows educator and other users to connect with others and engage in conversations, ideas and resource sharing, that otherwise might not have happened since the participants are from all over the world.

How does ‘chance’ come into play? I think in a couple of ways. First, one never knows who will be in a particular space at a particular time. With Twitter, using hashtags increases the possibility that something one tweets will be seen by people who follow that tag, but it is chance that it is seen at any given moment by someone who may take the conversation to a different level; who may then tweet something back that will lead to further discussion or connection. I also think chance comes into play because people who are “connected”, who are “networked” have more opportunities to engage with people they may not have in their current place, space or time.

So, another way I like to connect is through online courses like #ETMOOC. But just taking part in the course, listening to the sessions, doing the assignments, does not build these connections. What it does, is create the environment for making these connections and creating these chance opportunities. And that is something that Johnson says in his talk, we need to be in the right space so that our networks can grow. But again, we can be in the right environment, but not make the connection. We need to put ourselves out there, we need to listen, read, comment, reply and engage with others so that we can not only be in the right place, but we will also be there at the right time to make these connections that may lead to something great.

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net