The last six weeks or so I have had a complete change from working in academia, to working in the healthcare industry.
A story of a princess
When I lived as a princess in my ivory tower, I used to gaze out of the window into the distance and dream of open access free resources for all, unlimited access to any web site, and a world where people wanted to spend all their time networking on the Internet.
But I have been turned into an ugly sister, and kicked out of the ivory tower, and sent to live with the ordinary folk in the village at the bottom of the hill.
Living in the 'real' world
Now that I am an ugly sister, I don't get accepted into the posh balls, nor am I allowed to wear fancy gowns. I am not allowed to watch YouTube anymore, and I have found out that ordinary village folk are not considered good enough to be invited to the balls, or have unlimited access to the Internet. To make things even worse, some times I am looked on as the village idiot when I talk about things like creative commons, and get locked in the stocks.
When will my prince come and rescue me??!!
One step forward, two steps back
Oh alright.....so I'm being a drama queen.....it's no where near as bad as that. In fact, I am very grateful to be working with people who recognise the importance of networking and who are very keen to learn new things about online communication.
Nevertheless, some times the slowness with which change happens is very frustrating, and lots of little mistakes and hindrances get in the way of success. For example, I made connections with people in an aged care advocacy group who wanted to know about web conferencing. I was about to launch into full throttle on Elluminate, but they could not get through their organization firewalls.
Everything is so much more exaggerated in the context I am working. What I see as a small hindrance which I can work through in five minutes can completely shut down the people I am working with.
Having said all that, it also means that successes are so much more meaningful. I have now got the group of people who are supporting me as I develop the eMentoring project to meet in Elluminate. We've had our technical hitches, but are now really getting the hang of web conferencing.
I have also been asked by several groups to run networking and blogging workshops. One group is out in the west of Queensland, and are keen to explore how they can make use of online communication technologies to develop online community. This is especially exciting because it is a broader community initiative, not just aged care.
What has the princess learned?
I am learning that dreams do come true. It may not happen in quite the way one imagines, or even desires, and it certainly takes time. Working in the eLearning field can be extremely frustrating and tiring, and the old adage "patience is a virtue" is very true.
But if you do not dream, you cannot have a dream come true.
Image: 'Someday...' Gabriela Camerotti