This is the feature image including a quote from Tim Klapdor

Andrea Stringer recently wrote a post about the people who inspire you. Rather than write a list of names, which is often the way with such movements as #FollowFriday, Stringer summarises the characteristics of those who inspired her and who she aspires to be:

  • Successful without sacrificing integrity
  • Place people before profit
  • Generous with their time
  • Build relationships & connections (established & new)
  • Listen to understand, not to respond.
  • It’s not always about what you can do for them.
  • Genuine & Authentic. How they act in public is who they are.

Stringer’s post and list had me thinking about two things. Firstly, how I myself stacked up against those characteristics? How successful have I been? At what? Am I still generous? As my family has grown this has become a challenge. Being less active on social media and more focused on comments and my commonplace book, I would like to think I listen to understand, but I am never quite sure.

The second wonder was what it means to be connected today? I have long been an advocate of being a connected educator, however I am not sure what happened? In recent times it feels like things have changed. Maybe it is me? Leaving the classroom to work in an administrative role three years has changed my position? Or maybe it is just connected education in general? Maybe the focus around online communities of practice has changed? Maybe the platforms have changed? Maybe people have changed? Maybe people move beyond paywalls and closed spaces? All in all, it just felt like an itch I could not scratch.

Dai Barnes’ sudden passing brought this all to the fore again. I did not know Dai in person, our connection was online, yet he felt like an integral part of my personalised learning network. In particular, he came into my world through the TIDE Podcast. I listened to each and every episode. I was always left thinking, reflecting and wondering. The perspective that Doug Belsaw and Dai brought together always felt novel and refreshing. I once reflected that each episode was like going to the pub for a quiet Sunday session only to be surprised:

I think that TIDE is akin to turning up to a shabby pub on a Sunday afternoon, thinking that you are just going to have a causal conversation about this and that, only to discover a session of drinking craft beer. The session seems to drag on into the night and somehow evolves into finishing things off with a glass of top-shelf single-malt whiskey.

The particular memory that will stay with me is of Dai recounting a job interview for a deputy head position in Episode 117. A part of the process involved modelling a lesson. For this he looked at creating a social credit system in school. In a conversation towards the end of the lesson, one student touched on the problem where a student may have built up so much credit at the end of year that they could do anything. Dai recounted how he continued this conversation, suggesting that you could even jump on the table. The next minute he found himself caught in the moment and subsequently “jumping on the table like Jesus.” Needless to say, he did not get that job.

Link to audio

What I liked about Dai was his seemingly carefree attitude and openness. He would say it as he saw it even if it ran counter to sentiment. He was not wedded to any ideas and technology in particular. Thinking about various problems, I would often wonder what would Doug and Dai say?

If TIDE was a Sunday session that seemed to drag on without realising it. For me Dai’s sudden passing was like having a moment where one of the party vomits and you just don’t feel like drinking anymore. I will miss Dai dulcet tones and his unique perspective. As Tim Klapdor suggested:

Dai made a dent in the universe, its shaped just like his bare foot.


This has reminded me that being a connected does matter, but that I have probably need to thank those people in my community that I have come to take for granted. If there is anything to come out of this it is to tell those around you why they matter.


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Comment More

“Comment More” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

It is that time of year again when everyone starts making promises to be more connected, less connected or just connected differently. What is interesting are all the ideas that get floated around. Here is a collection of some of the new year opportunities:

  • EDUBLOGS CLUB: Edublogs have long supported teachers and students with blogging through their courses, however this year they have started a club involving weekly prompts. These posts are brought together around the hashtag #edublogsclub. I participated in #youredustory in 2015, which was similar, so it will be interesting to see how it goes.
  • 30 DAYS OF BLOGGING CHALLENGE: AJ Juiliani  put together a month long challenge designed to get a jump start into blogging in 2017. What makes this different to past iterations is that it is personal. Whereas challenges, such as #28daysofwriting, focused on time spent writing and posting regularly, Juiliani’s interest is on committing yourself to a set amount of words per day and a number posts per week. This reminds me in part of the #750words challenge.
  • COMMENT MORE AND “LIKE” LESS: Not so much a defined challenge or course, instead something of a personal personal. In response to 2016, Bill Ferriter sets forth the plan to invest more in comments in order to build deeper connections which can helps.us work together bring about change for a better world. This reminds me of a post by Steve Brophy from a few years ago. My only concern is whether such calls limit themselves by deciding what does and does not constitute a comment.
  • THREE STEPS TO IDENTIFY AND DEVELOP YOUR DIGITAL IDENTITY: I get the feeling that this is probably incidental and not necessarily a part of the new year rush, but Ian O’Byrne has developed a guide for those wanting to take more control of their online presence. Along with his post on cyberinfrastructure they provide a good beginning or a useful reminder. I too have written something similar in the past.

Each of these ideas offers something to support educators in developing a more deliberate practice.  However, none of them are necessarily new. More often than not they peter out. The question that we are left with is how might we habit that personal to each and every one of us? A part of me thinks that maybe this involves some sort of coaching, but what does that actually look like? As always, comments welcome.


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flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Looking Back on a Week as @EduTweetOz

This week, I took control of the EduTweetOz rotation curation account. Like many, @edutweetoz provided some of my first education connections with those like Jason Borton (the first week I ever followed) and TER Podcast. For so long I had thought that it was for somebody else, those in positions of responsibility, those with something important to say. Of course, this was my own misgiving. However, I always found a reason why now was not the right time.

So even though many encouraged me, it was only this year that I finally got around to putting my hat in the ring. It really hit home when more and more people were curating for the second time. So I signed up.

I must admit that the experience was not what I necessarily expected. In part I think because I did not know what to expect, but really because it is something rather unique. I once had a run at curating the short-lived @vicpln account, but it was something of a non-event as it did not have much of following and the account never really got beyond infancy.

So here are my three takeaways from the week that was:

Finding Your Voice: Some people seem to come into the week with a real agenda. They treat it like some sort of perpetual edchat, posting nightly questions around specific themes. Others approach the week as a means of telling a particular story linked with an association or edu-organisation. This methodical manner is not mine. My intent was simply to continue the conversation. After running through various approaches, such as providing some sort of quasi-episode of This is Your Life, I decided to simply do what I usually do within my own account and respond accordingly. I was mindful of sharing too many of my own posts, I, therefore, made a concerted effort to highlight other voices in the village.

Other People’s ideas and Arguments: An odd thing that I had to deal with early on was responding to replies to past posts. This was brought to the fore when one of the account administrators posted a piece on low literacy and forgot to include [admin] in the tweet. This did not really worry me until it escalated into something akin to a tribal dance with both sides applying war paint and sharpening their spears. I am all for debates and discussions, but usually when they are mine to have and to own. I neither felt compelled or comfortable, so I just killed the conversation, quietly.

Public Notice Board: Just as it is confusing as to what voice to use with the account, I was intrigued with the number of tweets shared with the account for no clear reason. I got the impression after a few days that there are some  who use the account as something of a public noticeboard to amplify their own voice. Fine, I had the choice to retweet, but it just seems to me like bad faith. This reminds me of the lesson I learned from Alec Couros in regards to Twitter and spamming.


So what about you? Have you ever taken control of a rotation curation account? What was your experience? Did you find any challenges? As always, comments welcome.


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