Comments Strengthen Connections
“Comments Strengthen Connections” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Bill Ferriter recently wrote about a return to commenting. I have written a bit about commenting before, both the way the difference nuances, as well as the possibility that not everyone needs to comment. One activity that I have done over the last few years is look back on the year in regards to the comments and the perspectives that is brought to my work. It can be uncanny looking back at the year that was and provides a different form of reflection.

Below then is a summary of the comments that I received in 2016. For those whose words they are, thank you. For those that I may have missed, sorry.

While Reggio helps us to “reimagine questioning, thinking, and learning in the classroom”, it also helps us to reimagine approaches to student assessment, teacher professional learning, and relationships in the classroom. “Listening must be the basis of the learning relationship that teachers seek to form with students” (Ritchhart et al, Making Thinking Visible)

Cameron Paterson in response to Balancing Between Inspiration and Achievement in the Search for New Ideas

I certainly don’t see the “alternative” to inspiration being purposeful. In fact, in being inspired, aren’t we often spurred into purposeful action to achieving a meaningful outcome? Inspiration which is fleeting and withers on the vine perhaps wasn’t inspiration at all.

Ian Guest in response to Balancing Between Inspiration and Achievement in the Search for New Ideas

That constraint — having almost nothing in terms of functional technology at my disposal — has made me MORE careful and selective and reflective about every tool that I embrace and every project that we tackle. That means much of the #edtech work that I’ve done has been quality stuff with a strong instructional purpose. That’s not because I’m a better teacher — it’s because I’m a teacher who HAS to think carefully about what we are doing with digital tools because accessing digital tools has always required a small miracle and tons of advanced planning.

Bill Ferriter in response to Going Beyond 1:1 Devices

If you’re developing your online profile to connect with others than my belief is you should use a photo of yourself rather than an avatar and if possible your name. Your personal learning networks wants to connect with you as a person. The more able they are to easily visualize who you are the easier it is for them to connect.

Sue Waters in response to #WalkMyWorld #LE1 – Where I Begin

Selfishly speaking, I would like to be able to see the “real” you. Conversely, I’m able to spot your avatar quickly and easily. I might skim right past your tweets if they were garnered with something other than the bearded, colorful face.

Robert Schuetz in response to #WalkMyWorld #LE1 – Where I Begin

How does anyone refocus their attention on pedagogy? I’d suggest the best way is just getting in there and doing it. I very much doubt any educator that isn’t trying to bring code to their students will discover (presumably purely intellectually) that pedagogically it is the best thing to do.

Richard Olsen in response to Coding

Maybe the bland overused word ‘effective’ teacher is actually more representative of a ‘great’ teacher. Empathy, connection, acceptance and focus on the individual in a supported community of teachers and learners. A teacher need not to ‘be great’ to recognise and support and inspire ‘greatness’ in others.

Julie Stark in response to Are Great Teachers Bad Teachers?

In our modern, web connected world, teachers with authentic expertise are just a click away. Greatness then, is in the eye of the learner. It is through investigation, and analysis that we identify quality, or greatness. Maybe it’s time to create a new word since “greatness” tends to get thrown around easily these days.

Robert Schuetz in response to Are Great Teachers Bad Teachers?

We ask families to pay a significant amount for devices while there is still considerable debate about whether or not they have any appreciable impact. I believe that we shouldn’t ask students to do meaningful tasks, do good research, high level analysis and accurate simulations without giving them the tools to do this. Imagine trying to analyse the PISA data, for example, without using a computer. However, I also know it’s not enough to just say “I believe”. We need more than that to justify the cost to families of 1:1.

Eric Jensen in response to Know Thy Digital Impact – A Reflection on Digital Research

My processes are far from perfect and always evolving. Transparency is the most important aspect of all this; sharing resources and making my learning visible. People who visit my blog can also follow my digital footprints

Robert Schuetz in response to Three Lessons Learnt from Using Social Bookmarking

You are suggesting a far more edgy approach to education, one which caters for students by listening to them and working with business in a way which prepares our students for the real world which awaits them. It will be great when mainstream schooling value prototyping more than NAPLAN.

Greg Miller in response to A Lean Education

I see comments as a way to show appreciation, to ask questions, and to dive deeper into the topic. In school, I’ve helped students write constructive, contributing comments. An amazing transformation takes place as they become more civil and conscientious with their face-to-face interactions.

Robert Schuetz in response to What Makes a Comment?

I think that I have become pickier with the posts that I read. Some are too long, some are the same old chestnut expressed slightly differently. I like posts that make me think again, learn something new like this one or that help me understand someone else’s world view. There are some blogs that I no longer bother to read right through if the first paragraph doesn’t interest me. Is this laziness or discernment?

Anna Del Conte in response to What Makes a Comment?

I used to try and play around with themes and plugins but seeing most of my very few readers probably get my infrequent posts via RSS, the blog is just an occasional use venue for me. It is still nice to have an online space of one’s own – Twitter is more like going to the pub these days.

Graham Wegner in response to A Guide to Blogging Platforms and their Niches

Tools will come and go, what occupies my thinking is every learner having their own web domain to share learning transparently. Also, how does the audience effect impact our learning? What innovative strategies can be employed on a blogging platform; documenting competencies, reflection journal, professional portfolio?

Robert Schuetz in response to A Guide to Blogging Platforms and their Niches

I used to have a Posterous blog, and it was so easy that i didn’t even realise I was blogging. I really miss that platform and have yet to find anything to replace it.

Eric Jensen in response to A Guide to Blogging Platforms and their Niches

I have bits of me all over the interwebs and, for a while, I tried to keep it all together and was trying to force it to fit in one space. I really don’t need to – the different bits live wherever they do for a reason and can continue to live there quite happily. I also like the fact that, although I have links to my ‘other selves’ on each of the blogs/websites/spaces I have, I still have very different audiences who aren’t really interested in the other bits, just the one they went to originally. I’ve seen some blogs that try to be everything at once and I find they are too much for me to deal with so I try to emulate what I would want to read.

Gill Light in response to A Blog For All Seasons

Don’t be afraid to push against the norm – just because some document says it should be done that way (or always has), it doesn’t mean that is the best way forward and one voice can be enough to start that change. It took me years to learn that – that questioning the status quo and asking ‘why’ doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being difficult but it can start a worthwhile conversation.

Gill Light in response to Letter from the Future

One characteristic of blogging is semi-regular blogging about blogging. One pillar for me that is old but I came across more recently it Dave Winer’s description of blogging as the unedited voice of a person. The other has always been Cory Doctorow’s My Blog My Outboard Brain (2002!). Also from a recent blog conversation with Laura Gogia on the concept of audience, but also, she makes a great case for writing in public.

Alan Levine in response to Developing a Blog

The evolution I have seen in your blogs has prompted my evolution. I try to add substance through quotes and research data. I have become better about applying attribution to media. I have toned down the visual as to not drown out the words. I am writing more, but publishing less, often combining ideas into single posts.

Robert Schuetz in response to Developing a Blog

I hook up pinboard to twitter as a way of harvesting links from my tweets, retweets and likes. Tidy up on pinboard later. Like you I’ve only occasionally dipped into hashtag chats, I am not sure twitter is the best medium for this or long chains, there tends to be a lot of circularity & repetition.

John Johnson in response to A Personal Twitter Tour

Possibly the reason why people do not share is that they are a bit over being used by conferences. They are happy enough to share their work, but hate conferences making money out of their hard work. Then some like Digicon actually charge you to attend when you are presenting. That is a bit harsh. Without the presenters, conference would be boring, but do they get enough in return? They may just feel that they need to keep their material theirs to use in a printed publication where they may pick up $50 or on their own blog where they get a bit of credit for it.

Not Speaking at Digicon in response to Can You Share the Link, Please

So often when we talk about participation, we ARE consumed by tech. We need to make tech invisible.

Simon Keily in response to Read, Think, Participate

My 2 cents re: your questions – the issue of disclosure is that if you feel you “might” need to disclose something, then it’s probably something you should do.

Dan Haesler in response to How Are You Disclosing?

Probably a good idea for every student to get the opportunity to write code, but not sure we need to make it writing. I prefer thinking of it as part of making digital stuff and the main reason to do it could be for fun? I like the idea of ‘just making’ (it certainly give me a lot of fun).

John Johnson in response to Coding, Literacy and the 21st Century

I’d be interested to know if and how the learning design changes as learners transition from linking to lurking to …

Richard Olsen in response to Defining a Community of Practice

In my teaching, one watershed moment was the purchase of a book on BASIC programming by David Lien. It lead me to purchase a TRS-80 computer. That purchase was followed by getting some TRS-80s into my junior high…and eventually I was a computer geek instead of a science teacher. It lead to being secretary of the Massachusetts Computer Using Educators for 20 years. It lead to finding Linux and doing web pages and…watershed, indeed.

Algot Runeman in response to Watershed Moments of Learning

My watershed moment was at a George Couros workshop on learning how to Blog and Tweet. I now follow other educators blogs, and by connecting with them I have connected my students and up-skilled them in creating a positive online presence. This led to my next watershed moment in a collaboration with Ann Michaelsen. I am now in a leadership position and teach my colleagues how to set up their class blogs. An exciting journey that started with learning how to blog.

Ann Rooney in response to Watershed Moments of Learning

It seems to me that building trust depends heavily on the connections we already have and bring to these online learning experiences. Some people act as ‘gatekeepers’ between the conversations on different platforms, and if these ‘gatekeepers’ are not there, people might struggle to make sense of the different aspects of a topic under discussion, and might get lost (i.e. drop out / disconnect) in the end.

Martina Emke in response to Building Trust in Online Communities

  1. The operation of connections is a material as well a social matter – and algorithms may be influencing gatekeeper perceptions and practices.
  2. Gatekeepers can bring people in and (perhaps unknowingly) keep people out. Gatekeepers can be people and tech.

Frances Bell in response to Building Trust in Online Communities

I’ve been thinking a lot about the similarities and differences between these events recently (as Maha, Kevin and I were presenting at ALT-C this week). What stands out for me is how much I trust all of you – and maybe you’re right that it’s because we share so much of ourselves that is personal. Authenticity? Not sure how to characterise all of this but I do know that it’s the richest set of experiences I’ve ever had.

Sarah Honeychurch in response to Building Trust in Online Communities

Rather than designing in trust-building activities, perhaps it’s more appropriate to create an environment within which trust can develop, in whatever ways those who need it might benefit?

Ian Guest in response to Building Trust in Online Communities

Blogging deepens my learning, widens my perspective, and crystallizes my thinking through transparent reflection. Selfishly, blogging helps me be a better learner. Becoming a better learner – that’s why all educators should be connecting and sharing. Blogging is just one, albeit excellent, way of documenting and sharing our learning with others.

Robert Schuetz in response to So Everyone Has a Blog, Now What?

My favourite definition of a servant leader: “It’s not all about me”.

Paul Browning in response to Luke Beveridge and the Decisions of a Servant Leader

I was aware of the different leadership metaphors but hadn’t really engaged with the reality of their application much. My friends and colleagues at GCI have done a fair bit of work with Mark McKergow on Solutions Focus approaches to coaching, and more recently on Host Leadership. I think that this metaphor adds something really interesting and helpful to the conundrum of leadership style.

Chris Munro in response to Luke Beveridge and the Decisions of a Servant Leader

BreakoutEDU appeals to the active, collaborative learning many students, and adults, prefer. I agree that assessing the process through reflection is key to advancing learning. Another aspect of BreakoutEDU that consistently impresses me is escaping, or successfully arriving at a solution, always requires divergent perspectives. Critics can shoot holes in Gardner’s learning styles theory, but successful team members always comment about how different “styles” helped them overcome obstacles. I like to think BreakoutEDU mirrors “real-life” challenges that divergent global perspectives can solve.

Robert Schuetz in response to Breaking Out Collaborative Problem Solving in the Classroom

First step is recognizing the problem and deciding to act, first step in acting as an ally is to listen well.

Maha Bali مها بالي in  response to Is Gender an Elephant in the (Education) Room?

Ancient Elephant but if we keep pointing it out small steps made.

Naomi Barnes in response to Is Gender an Elephant in the (Education) Room?

If all leadership ‘gurus’, keynotes, role models are white males, how does that shape us?

Corinne Campbell in response to Is Gender an Elephant in the (Education) Room?

Education seems to be the opposite to many workplaces. Ive been the only male in a number of schools. All my principals and APs until now have been women. Sexism is rife in the staff room. ‘Oh you’re a male’, ‘Oh you’re guaranteed a job’, ‘We need you to unclog the toilet’,  ‘MC this event’, ‘Move this furniture’…

A Man in response to Is Gender an Elephant in the (Education) Room?

When I am wearing my coaching hat, I typically assist learners with creating a curation system, a processing / reflection plan, and a contribution (sharing) process. Once they have a process, or workflow, in mind, then we start discussing tools / web places that will support their process. I view digital executive functioning (gathering, filtering, and sharing) as a critical piece for the modern learner.

Robert Schuetz in response to Filtering Knowledge and Information Beyond Twitter

It appears that you felt in some ways pulled in different directions; torn between being yourself and fulfilling the needs of the post/role, however they might be interpreted. I wonder if it’s in any way similar to the different obligations one has when moving into school roles which carry additional responsibility?

Ian Guest in response to A #RoCur Reflection

I don’t think of myself as a writer, but a blogger. That means, I think, I don’t worry so much.

John Johnston in response to My Secret Art of Blogging

Our assignments need to provide the opportunity for each learner to determine what the tool can do for them, personally. It isn’t enough to show them the things we know the tool can do. An educator must design (at least some) assignments to let each learner find the unexpected uses of the tool. It is the serendipity arising from the students’ uses which needs to be intentional.

Algot Runeman in response to Breaking the EdTech Machine

I wonder what education will be like in 10 years? Homework, standardised testing, accreditation, university entrance requirements…will we be having the same conversations? Does our collective dedication and passion for learning and education make a difference? Sorry-more questions than answers!

Andrea Stringer in response to Do Great Teachers Make a Great School?

I think as teachers we are accountable for our students being given the greatest chance of falling in love with learning but it doesn’t all come back to us. Sometimes our students are determined to share their anger around and no matter what we try to put in place, it will not stop them from attempting to destroy the learning environment for themselves and others. We don’t stop trying but we mustn’t beat ourselves or others up for often failing either.

Anna Del Conte in response to Do Great Teachers Make a Great School?

In 2017 I have suggested our school explore paradigms and theories of knowledge. Strip back to basics, expose beliefs.

Simon Keily in response to What or How – Which Would You Choose?

We are not necessarily in control of our circumstances but we are in control of how we respond to them. The attitude we carry with us affects all around us. We can’t always avoid negative people but we can do our best not to let them get to us.

Anna Del Conte in response to What or How – Which Would You Choose?

So they were the voices that made a difference to me last year. What about you? Who were the voices in your village that changed the way you thought last year? As always, comments welcome.

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More Reflections on the Voices in the Village by Aaron Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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