Cool Down

Autodidactic practice is lonely.

How’s that for an opening?

I don’t know if anyone else has this problem, but I have long had to fight for my research and practice time. Friends and family have this image of me cooped up in a dark, closed-off room, no connection to humanity, doing who knows what. So, in an effort to save me from myself, these well-meaning folk try to drag me off to do things. Somehow, I have always managed to get things done anyway.

Because the simple fact is: autodidactic practice is only as lonely as you choose to let it be.

These days, communities of like-minded people to work and create with, to practice with, to share with, can be found just about anywhere. Offline. Online. Some combination of the two. We’re very lucky.

I think that’s one of the reasons I like hitRECord. It’s a space to share your own work in relation to a given theme or topic, but you can also interact and collaborate with others with complementary skills. You can be at the same level. You can be on entirely different levels. It doesn’t matter. Anyone who wants to help explore a topic through a creative means is welcome, and in my experience the community has been welcoming and encouraging. It’s a safe place to learn and develop skills, both for yourself and from others.

And in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of finding practical outlets to serve as practice spaces.

But remember that all projects go through a cycle, the last of which is a period of reflection, a time to review your work, to figure out what you did that worked and what you did that you would do differently next time. This is what makes practice a key part of the learning process – learning from mistakes helps you become stronger in a skill. You can do this in a private journal (I actually have a section of my digital journal dedicated to this. I call it my sketchbook.), or you can be really brave and let others learn from your experience by sharing it in a blog or social media space.

However you choose to wrap up your projects, always make sure you’ve learned from the experience and that you’re moving forward with an eye on your development in your next steps.

So, this is it for our month-long look at the awesomeness known as practice. Next month, we put what we’ve learned this month to use as we explore the Reviewing phase of the personal learning environment. (Don’t worry. The name is a total misnomer.)


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