Reflections on the First Workshop on Professional Identites.
You cannot present to others what you have not presented to yourself: Papert
The purpose of these early workshops in the On-Line Professional Identities Project was to enable the participants to think about their outward facing identity, specifically in terms of their professional profiles. To consider what that identity might be before engaging with the how of putting an identity into an online platforms or engaging with technology.
Lego Serious Play is a powerful methodology for reflecting on and evaluating Individual identity, and extracting core values or simple guiding principles. The workshop followed a clearly defined structure, beginning with skills building and introduction of metaphor. At the core of the process is a simple strategy whereby everybody builds, everybody makes meaning and everybody shares. This activity is repeated three times. Firstly the participants build, from a rich pre-selected inventory of Lego bricks, their identity as they perceive it today. By handling the material and configuring it they make meaning that is individually shared as a story behind the model they have built. Secondly they are asked to build a new model which is how other see them and to consider how it attaches to the first model and what impact it has on the first Core Model. Finally they are asked to build a new third model that expresses, for them, their identity on the future. Lastly they are asked to place the two models in relation to each other and to extract from the last model what is the essential core identity of the future. They are asked to consider the distance between the two identities and what might be need to close that gap. These are written down and the participants take this way.
The group were given a short introduction into the concept of identity as explained by Henri Tajfel, that the identity consists of two aspects: PERSONAL consisting of characteristics, traits, preferences, attributes. And SOCIAL or RELATIONAL which derives from our knowledge of belonging to a certain group, which offers emotional value and social significance.
The group of 10 stage 2 and 3 students all engaged completely with the process and the idea of creating metaphor to make meaning. While some initial models were sometimes rich and demonstrated a deep understanding of current identity, many were strongly located in experiences and life story rather than concepts of identity such as values and attributes. Surprisingly the students responded extremely well in closing this gap in the subsequent building rounds.
In the next Workshop I will address this by including more information on the powerpoint slide that frames the first and subsequent activities.
Participants take away a post-it with their perception of a core aspirational external identity. How will this impact on their development of an on-line identity?