Consider frustration as a friend.

CHARACTER #1: The Host
CHARACTER #2: PLN (Personal Learning Network) An Invisible Character
CHARACTER #3: LMS (Learning Management System)
CHARACTER #4: Workerist (Student)
CHARACTER #5: Frustration (Student)
CHARACTER #6: Lurker (Student)
CHARACTER #7: Commitment-phobe (Student)

Scene Action: A LMS is centre stage. the LMS is spotlit from above, by six 50w halogen spots costing around CAD$97 a year to run, so that it is the only actant that we can see.


LMS is interrupted before it can RUN… Remotely, THE HOST has pressed esc and is booting up LMS’ chat-room…

THE HOST Wanna help the other feller? do what I do, not what I tell ya. Let’s check in.

LMS : $*%*£

PLN : (Note to self) Oh, no non no, I don’t believe it! That last group? A network! A network of opportunities. A network! A network of innovation. A network! Let us network yer vital needs. We can network together (USING ONLY HAND TOOLS). A network! We wants to network, to motivate just about ever brother n sister to give our network thar support…

THE HOST Let’s check in. How all are we? How are we all today?

While the group check-in with each other LMS quickly assigns group grades without attempting to distinguish between individual members of the group.

FRUSTRATION It is just so unfair, we were all given the same grade – we didn’t all do the same amount of work.

WORKERIST: Yeah, I did 92% of the work; the others did 12-34% at most. Don’t see me complaining tho.

LURKER: […] Lurker appears to be writing something in the chat box. It idles for 79 seconds, then just goes blank.

COMMITMENT-PHOBE: I just didn’t have enough time, I’m too busy and everything seems to be happening ALL the time. We never meet face to face, it’s always out of sync. I can’t keep up.

FRUSTRATION: It’s just so unfair, we weren’t given enough time. It takes ages to do the work when you don’t do it on your own ‘cause you have to meet ALL the time to get any sort of agreement on what you’re going to do, then you have to do tons of work all on your own all the while thinking that your partners aren’t bothering…

WORKERIST: Yes, I did 87% of the work in my spare time, getting up at 2:15am to work on it before my morning 10K run. I can meet anytime…

Lurker appears to be writing something in the chat.


WORKERIST: …so long as the meetings aren’t all on the same VoIP. I’ve created a number of avatars that can fill in form me when I’m busy (which is all of the time.) Personally speaking, I have an very immediate social presence and a great sense of community.

FRUSTRATION: …it’s just so unfair, we can’t all have an very immediate social presence and a great sense of community can we? It’s really hard to be immediate when we are mediated.

COMMITMENT-PHOBE: We don’t know how to communicate. It’s schizophrenic. We are on 17 different platforms and working in 28 different time zones. None of have a shared mother tongue. I can’t type quickly…

LURKER: […] 🏈 […]

Lurker accidentally shares URL of a meme it is watching on YouTube…

THE HOST okay, okay Let’s check in. What are your goals? What are you trying to achieve?

WORKERIST: SOMETHING BIG! …I want to make a contribution as a global citizen; so the project has to be something big. Something bigger than all of us, that moves our own thinking forward…

FRUSTRATION: It’s just so unfair, we seem to chew more than we bite. It’s too big, I can’t keep ontop of it. Some of us (not me) have far too many advanced degrees. It’s the world and its aunt.. I can’t fulfil all of my obligations. I shrug and pretend stoicism.

COMMITMENT-PHOBE: I’m gonna react very differently to FRUSTRATION. I don’t wanna go roaring off for immediate revenge. (Spoiler: I do this later in this play, in response to a different FRUSTRATION, and my over-reaction gets me killed). I like the general idea, but I’m not sure if it’s for me. I can’t see how it will benefit me in the long run … TBH it’s not really my bag – I’m behind it, but not really sure I can invest in it, yeah? I don’t know…?

FRUSTRATION: It’s just so unfair, there’s lots of resistance to sharing. A lotA pride in what we ‘own’. I seek revenge on whatever is frustrating me (sharing).

THE HOST ‘kay, okay. Let’s check in. You know, these things are very… part of life. The most exciting learner journeys all feature fights and payback schemes, yeah? Almost everyone or the other is a form of injustice…

COMMITMENT-PHOBE: Yes, but you should be able to adjudicate. You don’t. It’s schizophrenic.

PLN : (Note to self) Oh, no non no, I don’t believe it! This group? We must be a storm of hospitality; setting our stall as an example to our hosts, and, in so doing, declaim alike Our Right and Desire to impose Her Convictions and earn the eternal gratitude not just of our anxious Mother, but of Her whole family. IT IS JUST LIKE THE GRINDING OF CORN. I, for one, have been avidly preparing to conduct the most pleasant exchanges… But I shall not chatter unnecessarily or frivolously with our guests. I shall not speak unless spoken…

THE HOST ‘kay, okay. let’s check in. You know, right? We are all great at showing no self-control whatsoever, at throwing things and screaming. Consider frustration as a friend? (I hope that this has a soothing effect on you.) But how, but how? Adjudicate? But how?

FRUSTRATION: It’s just so unfair WE SHOULD HAVE TO…., it’s really just a matter of timing of…

THE HOST OK, ‘kay. let’s check in. Really just a matter of timing of.. TIMING of what?

FRUSTRATION: … of knowing when to intervene and when to leave the group to it. I blame the closest person (LURKER)

LURKER: […] Y ….. […] […]👍🏼

WORKERIST: Gyeah! No big whoop LURKY. We got this, we have full control over the quality of the project. Just you do it when you need to do and don’t do it when you don’t need to do it…That what moves our own thinking forward…

THE HOST and LURKER chat in a DM with no anticipation of the rest of the group’s needs. A spider hangs down from the ceiling over an dried spot of ketchup that has congealed close to LMS.

COMMITMENT-PHOBE: Sure, sure, but I’m not sure I care for group work. I’m a me-person; I work alone. El solo lobo. Why should I do it for you? Or you, or (especially) you?

WORKERIST:: To do SOMETHING BIG! So, my followers come to me with lots of questions like ‘what does this stuff all mean to you?’ or ‘what do you mean by this?’ I want to know all about my followers too; but I want to know right now, not later. What made you that way? How come? Want to find out more? So, I’ll be there giving you…

FRUSTRATION: …. it’s just SO unfair, I want to do something, but I just don’t know anyone in the group well enough. how can i get to know them when we are never in sync? When we are never in the same place at the same time… I don’t wanna lose dollor-value… but I really must vent frustration to a trusted friend.

LURKER: …….. …. Regrets? Ugh… not enough seasoning on [coughs] on the..ugh…mmm. I’m not keen on beans. You keep up the…

LMS inserts paid promotion into chat:

‘…monitoring and feedback the study group conferences and chats are monitored closely by instructors who provide respectful and timely feedback on process and direction when necessary to prevent groups from getting stalled or going off course….’

PLN : (Note to self) Oh, no OMG no, I just really do not believe it! This group? We, almost, all of us.. we are all of us the victims of collaboration… What else might we be feeling in response to the collective thwarting our learning desires?

FRUSTRATION : It’s just ALL so unfair, I feel deprived of all of my expectations of group work. I HAD plans, I STILL do, but I can’t complete them if I spend all of my time managing the group. I feel like i just wasn’t ready to work in a group – never did it before. Don’t wanna do it again… I blame the universe.

PLN : (Note to self) Oh, no non no, I don’t believe it! This group? Emotion, burden, cognitive load. Behaviour change requests. Quintessence of volatile zibets: it all there! Whaaa they are saying shows different ways that character might act when frustrated in a certain situation, but I don’t find them believable, they lack emotional depth and range… How can they use FRUSTRATION to best advantage?

COMMITMENT-PHOBE: Sure, sure, but if there were shared goals, and some of the goals were my own goals, it might be different. It might be more believable. Maybe we need to decide what we can’t do alone?

WORKERIST: Gyeah! What is it we want to do that we can’t do alone? That’s what I want to do… I am able to gen the most amazing content that always seems exciting and exhilarating to all. I need to make sure you all know that I’m working on something unique and to-tal-ly awesome and I can’t do that on my own. This is my dream. This is always my dream. We can give each other tips and inspiration about what it might be like to make your world more like MyWorld, a better, more inspiring place to live your best life. There has to be a better way. Voila! There is!

PLN : (Accidentally posts note to self in chat) Oh, no noOO, no. OMAF, I donut believe it! This group? In the right environment, they could reflect on and articulate their experiences, but here, in this LMS?…

LMS : (DM to PLN) $*%*£ What’s wrong with this LMS?

PLN : (DM to LMS) aH eh… It’s a bit… limited. Teletext. Not exactly cutting edge is it?

LMS : (DM to PLN) So, $*%*£? Works doesn’t it? If it ain’t not broek donut fixit.$*%*£

PLN sits quietly thinking abut how it feels now, about what it’s thinking, and how its body is reacting…

FRUSTRATION It’s just so….. so … unfair! I don’t have access to teletext. where i am. teletext was SUNSETTED 15 years ago. I get all my info now from Minitel. why can’t we all just use minitel? we all use it anyway, right? I slide into depression…

LMS : (DM to PLN) 😏

WORKERIST: Gyeah! I use it for everything – even to clean my toilet.

COMMITMENT-PHOBE: Sure, sure, agreed, we use Minitel then. But if Minitel goes down, or they create a paywall, then what? Maybe we need to decide what we do when we can’t do it this way? We also need to decide how we will decide what we do when we can’t do it this way…

LURKER: …Teletext 👍🏼 IMON it

PLN : (DM to THE HOST) Oh, no non no, I don’t believe it! This group? Thee are in danger o developing a consensus. Host, do something quick!

THE HOST ….. okay, okay. let’s check in on how we are feeling. WE… I feel that you are getting somewhere finally, but… I also feel that if you eliminate FRUSTRATION, well if you do that, then how will you drive your learner story forward? No FRUSTRATION = no plot. not plot = no goals. No goals = no motivation, no values, no desires. No climax.


Topic 3 – Consider frustration as a friend