About the courses in general
Does the course fee have a sliding scale?
No. I would very much like to have a sliding scale.
But having donated seven person-years of work to the world already,
I'm a little tapped out, gift-economy-wise.
The good news is that you don't need to take a PNI Practicum course to learn how to do PNI. You can read my PNI textbook
Working with Stories
for free; you can use my PNI software NarraFirma for free; and you can join
the Participatory Narrative Practitioner Network,
a friendly group of people who meet monthly to talk about participatory story work.
Also, obviously, I'm not the only person who does or supports participatory story work.
There's a whole world of ideas and techniques
waiting to be explored.
Do you offer a volume discount?
If you buy a "bundle" of two tickets, the price is 5% off. If you buy 3, it's 10% off. If you buy 4, it's 15% off.
The people in your bundle can collaborate on one project or do their own projects.
To buy a bundle of tickets, click "Save Your Seat," then "Buy tickets," and look for the available discount bundles.
Can you send me an invoice?
Yes. Send me an email at email@example.com
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).
Are there breaks within the course schedule?
No. There is a course activity scheduled for each two-week part of the course.
(The 20-week course has two more parts in it than the 16-week course.)
However, each of these activities should only take a few 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 PNI Practicum courses 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.
You can find most of the same materials — or at least the same ideas — in lots of other places.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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 large (say an entire community or organization),
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 pages titled "Project Activities" in the
PNI Practicum introductory presentation.
(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 volume discount bundles.
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.
About the PNI Practicum II course
Will I be required to use NarraFirma?
No. Most people who take the PNI Practicum II course will probably choose to use NarraFirma,
because using NarraFirma will be part of what they want to learn in the course.
And we will probably be talking a lot about using NarraFirma in the course.
But you can use any data analysis and visualization package you like.
I won't be able to help you if you get stuck using other software.
But if you already know how to use Tableau or Dedoose or R or something,
you can use it in the PNI Practicum II course.
I want to use NarraFirma, but I don't want to install it. Will you do that for me?
Honestly? I've been waffling back and forth on this for years.
I have thought about hosting a NarraFirma installation for each student in the PNI Practicum II course.
But I don't think people are going to want that.
I think most of the people who take the PNI Practicum II course will want to set up NarraFirma
themselves — so they can learn how to do that.
However, if you want me to set up NarraFirma for you, I can do that for you.
NarraFirma is free, but hosting any kind of web server is not free.
Having said that, I'm happy to set up a NarraFirma installation on an Amazon server (it's $5 a month)
for anyone who wants to take the PNI Practicum II course, wants to use NarraFirma, and doesn't want to set it up themselves.
If I do this for you, you will have access to your NarraFirma installation only
until the course is over (at which time you can export your project and import it into another NarraFirma installation).
I want to use NarraFirma, but I want to install it locally, not on the internet. Can I do that?
Yes. But you'll have to import or enter your stories
instead of using NarraFirma to collect them over the internet.