How to Create a Sensemaking Artifact


How do we make sense of what’s happening in this workshop? How do we develop a clear view of the topics?

George Siemens writes that sensemaking occurs in many areas of our personal and organizational life, including crisis situations, routine information seeking, research, and learning. Everyday we are engaged in vague problem-solving without a clear path: a parent raising a child, an employee starting a new job, a doctor without a clear diagnosis for a patient, a student deciding what they want to do in life, and so on. Sensemaking is a daily activity we engage in to respond to uncertainty, complex topics, or changes in settings. Sensemaking is not about truth and getting it right. Sensemaking is about continuing to improve and redraft an emerging story until it becomes comprehensible.

Sensemaking Artifacts

Sensemaking artifacts can include a text post, a slideshow, a video, a podcast, a recorded live performance – basically anything that allows you to express how you came to understand something. According to Siemens, sensemaking artifacts serve two roles:

  1. They reflect the sensemaking activity you experienced – the artifact shows how you connected different concepts within this course or how you came to understand the relationship between different entities.
  2. They are a “sensegiving” tool that teaches others. Sensemaking artifacts are valuable for you to use to self-organize around important ideas, negotiate the scope of a topic, correct each other, and curate key ideas.

How do I create an artifact?

  1. Pick and Choose. We will give you access to a wide variety of things to read, watch or play with. There will be a LOT of content associated with this course. You are NOT expected to read and watch everything. Even we, the facilitators, cannot do that. Instead, what you should do is PICK AND CHOOSE content that looks interesting to you and is appropriate for you. If it looks too complicated, don’t read it. If it looks boring, move on to the next item.
  2. Remix and Re-purpose. We don’t want you simply to repeat what other people have said. We want you to create something of your own. This is probably the hardest step of the process. Remixing is the adoption, alteration, and recombination of what your read, saw, or heard to create something new. Remember that you are not starting from scratch. Nobody every creates something from nothing. That’s why we call this step ‘repurpose’ instead of ‘create’. We want to emphasize that you are working with what you choose in step 1, you are not starting from scratch.
  3. Share and provide feedback. We know, sharing in public is harder. People can see your mistakes. People can see you try things you’re not comfortable with. It’s hard, and it’s sometimes embarrassing. But it’s better. You’ll try harder. You’ll think more about what you’re doing. And you’ll get a greater reward – people will see what you’ve created and connect on it. Sometimes critically, but often (much more often) with support, help and praise. People really appreciate it when you share. After all, what you’re doing when you share is to create material that other people can learn from. Your sharing creates more content for this course. people appreciate that, you will probably appreciate the content other people in the course share with you.

Practice creating artifacts

This workshop will be about how to read or watch, understand, and work with various forms of content and other people to create your own new understanding and knowledge.Your job isn’t to memorize a whole bunch of stuff. Rather, your job is to practice and use different tools to create artifacts. We will show you by giving examples. Watch what we do, then practice yourself.

It’s a wonderful experience

George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and Dave Cormier, who facilitated, asks you to think of every bit of content you create not simply as content, but as practice creating artifacts.

This will seem awkward at first. But with practice you’ll become an accomplished creator and critic of ideas and knowledge. When the course is working really well, we see this great cycle of content and creativity begin to feed on itself, people in the course reading, collecting, creating and sharing. It’s a wonderful experience you won’t want to stop when the course is done. Along the way we will get to know each other better learners interact with each other and with information.

5 thoughts on “How to Create a Sensemaking Artifact

  1. Pingback: Week 1: Start with the fundamentals | How To Teach Online

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