I’ve often felt a slight dissonance between the world I inhabit as a clinician and the world I inhabit as part of the FOAM community. This shouldn’t be the case but the disconnect appears to persist. This is partly caused by myself, “I’m not sure anything I produce will be accepted in my workplace” and partly re-inforced by my environment, “Oh FOAM stuff! Don’t really do it. Go and talk to Damian, he’s interested in it.”
When I started as a consultant I made a conscious effort to try and avoid these stereotypes. Why can’t FOAM material be produced as part of my clinical work? So with the support of colleagues I have gone about doing this; reflected by a number of recent blogs:
As a result I’ve begun to notice a common trend in the way others have been getting involved in creating their own FOAM:
I have not based this construct in any form of theory, it’s much more back of the napkin type stuff. However I think I have taken some inspiration from Mike Cadogan (who else!) in terms of how FOAM networks have been created and also some brilliant analogy on ‘blogging’ ecosystems. I also recently came across the concept of rhizomatic learning which I think is very akin to the philosophy which has sustained the FOAM community of practice. I am hoping though those more widely read than myself will be able to apply some theory to my approach.
The idea is as follows:
The initial spark is formed when an individual hears a conversation or reads an article that is FOAM related (or FOAM-esque). This may need to happen a couple of times and, more often than not, is re-inforced by knowing a FOAM-ite who can explain in more detail. Often the first leap is into a social media domain (i.e twitter/google + etc.)
The interaction with social media and then through to FOAM resources often begins with ‘hoarding’ of content. The available information can feel quite overwhelming to begin with and so web-links of blogs and podcasts are saved religiously . This phase may be brief, or prolonged, and is clearly aided by good filing systems!
As confidence grows, sharing material which has been enjoyed or has resonated with the person’s own beliefs and practice, becomes more frequent. This may simply be by word of mouth (leading to increasing “curiosity” in others) or via social media channels.
Increasingly active participation in the FOAM community then leads to discussions with that community. Sharing material naturally leads onto constructive criticism of the subject. Often many of those involved in FOAM will remain at this junction of the path. However for some ‘collaborations’ with others lead to a desire to participate further…
Having immersed themselves in FOAM some will decide to then produce their own content. This may simply be in the form of a blog posting, perhaps with a “collaborator” or a review article. Increasing ease of access to recording equipment has seen ever more podcasts being released and the influence of SMACC on raising awareness of PK type presentations has led to a variety of video-cast style short talks.
The development of new FOAM material is only really the beginning as its creation gives the author deeper understanding of the advantages and limitations of the medium they have chosen. New insights lead to new understanding and increased collaboration, not only cultivating others interest, but leading to new skills sets in the individual themselves.
I have spent time pondering whether it is a path or a cycle. It probably doesn’t really matter but as always would be grateful for feedback!