I'm not alone when I cite Hugh MacLeod of GapingVoid as one of my favourite cartoonists on the web. I also really like Alex Noriega, Jessica Hagy, Doug Savage but my all time favourite cartoonist (whose work pre-dates the internet easily) is Michael Leunig. A well drawn cartoon can capture an idea or an emotion in ways that words cannot. So, the other day, Hugh's blog pointed to a slidedeck that he has created outlining how his work is enacting change in the business world. He refers to his cartoons as social objects, explaining the concept further in a page on GapingVoid.
The Social Object, in a nutshell, is the reason two people are talking to each other, as opposed to talking to somebody else. Human beings are social animals. We like to socialize. But if you think about it, there needs to be a reason for it to happen in the first place. That reason, that “node” in the social network, is what we call the Social Object.
It has got me wondering if the idea can be remixed for learning. I mean, education has had learning objects peddled for quite a while now so why not social objects? I think that they already exist anyway in our schools and professional associations, and definitely in learning networks on the web but without the formal identification of such a label. But if I understand Hugh correctly, a well designed social object creates conversation and draws people to a particular concept or idea. This could be very powerful in places like schools in order to open up fresh thinking, introduce preferred models of practice and to help co-create positive outcomes and learning / social dispositions.
I really like the ideas in Slides 10, 13, 14, 15 and 22. Hugh produces social objects for companies to improve their outcomes. My next step is to see if I can create a cartoon that is a social object for learning. Maybe you might know of one that already fits the bill.
More to come ...
I’m an education major at NYU and recently we’ve been looking at blogs produced by actual educators. I stumbled upon yours the other day and have been thoroughly impressed. I love this idea, it’s innovative and fun. And I think your follow up about turning trash cans into monsters was a perfect application. I especially admire that you’re taking education out of the classroom and textbooks and into the real world.
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I am still blown away by the fact that anyone reads this blog at all, let alone someone on the opposite side of the world, so thanks for dropping by. I just need a class to take this idea up because I don’t have my own any more now that I’ve moved into a leadership role. It is funny that I feel more comfortable pitching this idea out to the internet than approaching one of my day to day colleagues with the concept. How long before you become a fully qualified educator?