About the course fees
Do your course fees have a sliding scale?
No. But my
books about PNI
and my PNI software are (and have always been) free.
Do you offer a volume discount?
If you buy a "bundle" of two tickets, the price is 10% off.
The two people in your bundle can collaborate on one project or do their own separate projects.
To buy a bundle of tickets, click "Save Your Seat," then "Buy tickets." You will see the discount bundle listed there.
What if nobody else takes the course I want to take?
Two weeks before each course is to start,
I will decide whether I can afford to give the course based on the number of people who have signed up for it.
If you have signed up for a course that ends up being canceled,
I will send you a full refund (including your deposit) via PayPal.
I don't have time to take a course right now. But I might have time next year. Can I wait and sign up then?
Maybe. If these courses fill up, I will be able to keep offering them; but if they don't, I won't.
If you can't take a course right now but would like to help me offer them in the future, consider
making a donation in support of my free books and software. There are donation buttons at
workingwithstories.org and at
narrafirma.com (scroll down to the bottom of the main page).
Can you send me an invoice?
Yes. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
and I'll send you an invoice for the course fee. You can pay via international wire transfer, PayPal, or TicketTailor/Stripe
(the method linked to from this site).
What is your refund policy?
If you start a course, then discover that it's not what you want,
or if you start but can't finish due to time constraints, let me know.
I will send you a pro-rated refund for the weeks that remain via PayPal.
You also have the option of applying your refund to the next course (if there are seats left for that course).
However, I do ask that you not take up a slot in a course unless you intend to commit to it.
Much of the value of these courses lies in their peer support aspect.
So if you take the course without intending to engage with it (and your fellow students), you could reduce its value to others.
Please look over the course activities and requirements before you sign up.
If you need help deciding, I would be glad to talk with you about your options.
About the course activities
If I can't be at every course meeting, can I still take the course?
Yes. If you have to miss a meeting or two, it should not be a problem. All calls are recorded and available for watching
as long as the course goes on. Also, you are entitled to up to two hours of one-on-one help during the course, so I can help you catch up
if you have to miss a few calls.
If I can't put in the time required to do a project, can I still take the course?
No. I don't suggest it. You won't learn much about PNI if you don't spend time doing a real PNI project.
Do I need a fast internet connection to take either course?
Yes. We will be using Zoom (with some screen sharing) and Miro during our meetings.
You can join via audio only, but you will need to be able to see what is happening on the screen.
Joining by phone is fine once in a while, but for our interactive sessions you should plan to work on a laptop or desktop computer.
Are there breaks within the course schedule?
In the Fall 2023 PNI Practicum I course, there are no breaks; we will meet every Tuesday for 16 meetings.
In the Fall 2023 PNI Practicum II course, we will not meet on the third Thursday in November
(for the US Thanksgiving holiday),
and we will not meet on on the last Thursday in December (for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa).
What if I fall behind?
A project activity is scheduled for each two-week part of the course.
However, each of these activities should only take a few to several hours to carry out, and each of them can happen at any time within the two weeks.
Also, if you need to step away from the course in one part, you can push that part's activity into the next part and do two activities then.
That's one reason the courses are as long as they are: to accommodate the reality of doing story projects, which rarely go as planned.
I've done some story work before, but not PNI. Which course do you suggest I take?
I created two course levels because I've noticed over the years that people who use PNI always seem to
prefer to use it in one of two ways.
The ancient, artisanal style of PNI is simple and clear. You gather some stories, then help a group of people make sense of them together.
It's the sort of thing that could have happened (and probably did happen) thousands of years ago.
The modern, scalable style of PNI is complicated and ambitious. You gather some stories, and you also gather a lot of answers to questions about
the stories and their tellers. Then you look for patterns in the answers to find "food for thought" people can use to explore the
topic more fully than they can with the stories alone. To do this style of PNI, you need to collect more stories,
interpret graphs and statistical test results, prepare the patterns for use in sensemaking, and
facilitate a more intense and demanding form of sensemaking in which people look at both patterns and stories.
I know some people who do only the ancient style of PNI, some who do only the modern style, and some who do both.
The ideal is to be able to do either style as the situation calls for it. But there is also an element of personal preference involved.
Some people gravitate more naturally to one style or the other.
One thing that might help you decide is to look at the example catalysis report
(of patterns prepared for sensemaking)
that I have on my web site (it is actually some excerpts from a longer report I built for a project).
This is the sort of thing you would be creating to support sensemaking in a modern-style PNI project
(the kind you would be doing in the PNI Practicum II course).
If you can see yourself enjoying the work of creating a report like that — if that is the sort of thing you want to learn how to do —
then the PNI Practicum II course would suit you best. If that sort of thing seems boring or stupid or overwhelming to you,
then you would probably like the PNI Practicum I course better.
How do the PNI Practicum course materials differ from Working with Stories?
The course materials for the PNI Practicum are drawn from WWS and from other readily available resources.
But reading a book and doing a project are not the same thing.
What the PNI Practicum offers is a smoother path, a way to develop your PNI practice
in an atmosphere of facilitated exploration, peer-to-peer discussion, and expert guidance.
You do not need to take this course — or any course — to learn how to use PNI successfully. Still, it might be useful to you.
About your course project
I have a project in mind, but I'm not sure it will work in the course.
Projects done in either PNI Practicum course should be
synchronized (on the same schedule),
not secret (something you can talk about),
and exploratory (small enough to fit into our time frame).
If you aren't sure if the project you have in mind fits those criteria,
you can ask.
Send me a note at email@example.com.
And don't worry, I'm not going to say yes no matter what project you have in mind,
because I want you to succeed. I want us all to succeed, together.
I would like to take a PNI Practicum course, but I can't think of any project to do. Is that a problem?
Not necessarily. Participants are more important than projects.
If you can find at least 6 (for the PNI Practicum I) or 20 (for the PNI Practicum II)
friends, colleagues, family members, or members of your community or organization
who you are pretty sure will be willing and able to spend some time participating in your project,
you can decide on the project's topic (maybe in discussion with your participants)
as the course begins.
Do my project participants need to have a lot in common? For example, do they need to live or work at the same place?
No. You can do a project with people who have nothing in common
except a mild to moderate interest in the topic of your project.
In fact, I've worked on many projects just like that.
Do I have to identify all of my project participants before the course begins?
If the pool of people from whom you can draw participants is small (say just enough to do the project),
you will need to get them to agree to participate before you start the course,
so you can be certain that you can fill your
interviews and sessions with participants.
However, if your pool of potential participants is much larger than the number of participants you need,
you can invite people to participate as the course goes along.
For example, you might gather some of your stories by simply hanging out at a local gathering place
and finding people who are willing to share a story or two.
For details on when each interview and session will take place,
and how much time you will need to ask people to spend on it,
see the page titled "Project Activities" in the
PNI Practicum descriptions (I-level, II-level).
(Also see the "If you fall behind" page.)
Can I use a PNI Practicum course to do a project I get paid to do?
Yes. In fact, using either course to get help carrying out a paid project is a great way to pay for it.
My suggestion is to look at the course schedule and make sure a project with that schedule and scope will meet your client's needs.
Could my colleague and I take the PNI Practicum course together and do a shared project in it?
Absolutely. That is a great way to experience the course.
When you go to buy your tickets, be sure to check out the two-ticket discount bundle.
About the PNI Practicum I course
I would like to take this course, but I don't think I can find any project participants. What do you suggest?
Ask around among your family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.
Most people can convince (drag, bribe, guilt)
at least a few people to spend a few hours sharing stories around an interesting topic.
Say "I'm taking a class!" and offer pizza or donuts.
Also, you might be able to collaborate on a project with another student.
For example, if three students were to bring two participants each into a shared project,
they could do the project as a team and take turns facilitating.
Students can also act as participants in each other's projects.
Why doesn't the PNI Practicum I course use NarraFirma?
You can use NarraFirma if you want to. It's a good place to plan your project, organize your stories, and record your reflections.
However, you may not want to learn how to use a new piece of software in this course.
And since you will be collecting relatively few stories, it's not necessary to do so.
Your favorite word processor will work fine. Even pen and paper will work fine, if you like that better.
The only software you absolutely need to use in this course is your internet browser, to participate in meetings.
About the PNI Practicum II course
Will I be required to use NarraFirma?
Yes. At first I wanted to be agnostic about software, but my students have told me
that they value the opportunity to learn how to use NarraFirma well.
So everyone will be using NarraFirma in the course.
You will use it to plan projects, gather stories, discover patterns, build catalytic material for sensemaking, and record reflections.
What do I have to do to get NarraFirma set up to use in the course?
The simplest method is to pay for a basic account
at a one-click WordPress hosting site.
Make sure the host you choose allows custom plugins.
Once you have WordPress running, you can install NarraFirma (from the WordPress plugins directory) in a few clicks.
Do I have to set up NarraFirma before the course starts?
No, but you should do it within the first few weeks of the course.
Can I install NarraFirma locally, not on the internet?
Yes. But you'll have to import or enter your stories
instead of using NarraFirma to collect them over the internet.