Otters are cute and interesting, but what does that have to do with learning?
Otters are cute and fluffy critters. They are also very intelligent, and unlike many mammals they really don't NEED to spend time in social groups. A single otter can be quite happy spending the majority of its time alone. Yet they still seek one another out and form loose groupings, known as rafts because of their unusual hand-holding behavior. Scientists aren't sure why these mostly solitary animals group together in this way, though what they do know is that this behavior is in part for safety during resting periods.
So why choose the idea of a raft of otters for the name of a learning entity? Think about it. Otters are quite happy spending time alone--foraging for food, exploring, raising their young--but they still see the value of forming groups for certain activities. Groups of like-minded individuals who don't rely on the raft, but who take pleasure in sharing space with others for a time, both for social and practical purposes. Groups where the whole benefits, as well as the individual. Also, these rafts are not static. On the contrary, they are quite dynamic. Constantly changing, growing, shrinking, with as few as a dozen members and sometimes numbering in the thousands.
This sounds to me like the ideal kind of setting in which to function as a learning specialist. As the context changes, so does the group. There are times when working alone is preferred. Sometimes smaller or larger groups form to work on a project, or to gather simply to share stories and experiences with one another. Members of the raft are willing to allow others to join and disengage as need and convenience dictate. There's no "in" crowd. There may be leaders, but that role also shifts as experience, expertise and interest come into play. Engagement is enouraged, but not mandatory. Openness is the key trait.
RaftLearning is meant to be just that. An open space for sharing and gathering thoughts, ideas and stories. For collaborating. For promoting openness and embracing change as the shifting world of knowledge and information access moves around us like the sea. We don't NEED each other so much as we WANT TO BE WITH each other. We seek one another out. We listen. We share.
Welcome to the Raft.