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

In a recent post, Jon Andrews reflected on the influence of Edutech and its ongoing relevance. It got me reflecting on my own experiences in regards to conferences and professional development. One event that stands out in particular was the 2014 Google Teachers Academy.

There was so much conjecture prior to the event about what it meant and how the representatives were selected. While in a conversation afterwards, one of the questions brought up was that of impact. I argued that time would tell the success of the evolution associated with Google Teacher’s Academy move from a focus on tools to a focus on innovation and change. However, a part of me thinks that this also misses something. Focusing on ‘success’ sometimes misses the chance influences and impact. As I have discussed before in regards to data and connections, reducing success to a particular outcome does not recognise the serendipitous learning and experience through failure.

So as I look back, here are some aspects that have impacted me:

  • Design Thinking: The biggest take-away was to not only learning about, but learning through Design Thinking. From the different immersion activities, such as drawing a classroom to interviewing different stakeholders; to using hexagons to maps ideas in order to develop a how might we question; then generating ideas and then filtering them; as well as prototyping and critiquing different iterations. I have long wondered about the different facets of inquiry-based learning. However, I had not really had the opportunity to properly explore Design Thinking. One of the things which really stood out to me was the cyclic nature of the process. Although it focuses on an authentic end goal, as other forms of inquiry do, it incorporates an element of ongoing refinement that is sometimes lost within other processes. This experience also made a lot more sense when I read Ewan McIntosh’s book How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make The Happen. This is not to say that Hamish, Tom and the coaches did not do a good job with the constraints of time. However, it was not really until the end, when you can stand back and reflect, that you can make sense of the process, rather than just the ideation being actioned.
  • Connections: I remember reading that being a part of the Google Teachers Academy would provide access to a range of connections. Although I am now in a few new Google Groups, which is dip in and out of, the real bonds and connections were those that I formed simply being a part of the process. Ironically, it was the time spent chatting around meal times and during the taxi rides when the friendships were formed. It simply reiterated the fact that learning is more often than not relational. We can follow all the people in the world, but there is always something humane and so much more meaningful associated with face to face contact. Although I knew quite a few people before (and they knew me I found out), I feel that bit more connected now. I am not sure if this justifies the program, but must not be overlooked.
  • Start with Why: One of the interesting things that occurred at GTA was that every coach received a copy of Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why. Before the event, I had not heard of Sinek and his golden circle. After watching his Ted Talk, I read the book over the Christmas holidays. It was one of those books that, like Carol Dweck’s Mindsets, really clarified the way I saw things, particularly in regards to innovation. Just being ‘right’ or bringing a good idea to the table does will not necessarily bring the change desired. The challenge is to really be clear why such change and innovation is important. This can mean supporting others to drive change, helping them as leaders.
  • GEG: Considering it was an event organised by an edtech giant, I am not sure how much Googly knowledge I left GTA with and I am not sure that it really matters. Instead, the event demonstrated the potential for using Google Apps to support change. I actually think that I left with more thoughts about how to facilitate professional development. For example, Corrie Barclay and I ran a Google Educator Group event at the end of last year. We designed it around the idea that teachers could share and create. It was not necessarily the ‘success’ that I envisaged, but it did leave me with more to critique and think about. A part of a longer process exploring how to support others with change.
  • Driving Change: It has been interesting seeing some others celebrate their successes. Whether it be Riss Leung and her new makerspace or Steve Mouldey’s website 1st Follower, designed to support others with the change process. I left GTA with the question: How Might We ENGAGE PARENTS in a CULTURAL SHIFT to make RELATIONSHIPS and CONNECTIONS the focus of learning? Part of me thought that this might have been a little too ambitious. However, to me, that was the point of the event. I would liked to have jumped into disruptive pedagogies or some other area of change, but I felt that was the safe option. I chose a topic that was messy and wicked, with no clear solution. Every school is unique and has its own context. Engaging with parents and the wider community in a meaningful way is one area that this shows through. Since then, I have continued to ask questions, read widely, listen to different perspectives and test out different iterations. I will be honest, I definitely have not succeeded in bringing parents and the community into the classroom as Chris Betcher and I had envisaged. However I have started implementing different means of sharing and connecting beyond the classroom, which is definitely a step further in what feels like the direction.

So what about you? What big events have you been a part of? Programs that you’ve been privy to? What are the lasting impacts on your professional practice? As always, comments are welcome.


If you enjoy what you read here, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to catch up on all things learning, edtech and storytelling.

creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by mrkrndvs: http://flickr.com/photos/aaron_davis/16604532555

The question was posed ‘what is connected learning’ as a part of the #youredustory challenge. This is a topic that I am really passionate about and have therefore written quite a few posts on it before, such as:

I therefore decided that instead of trying to say something new, I would instead show it in the form of comments to my blog. Here then are a collection of responses that I have been lucky enough to recieve since starting my blog nearly two years ago:

“It is much more difficult to run reciprocal reading and independent reading/conferencing plus include a whole class novel (which I think is incredibly important in order to model comprehension skills). It is definitely a balancing act. Something that I found to work with my class, though, is to teach them reading skills and strategies that I actually use myself.” Rebecca Davies in response to Reading Conferences, Whose Problem is it Anyway?

“I used the word complex (in reference to poverty) because I feel like the deeper we get into them the more complex they are because of all the sides trying to “fix” them and not doing a very good job doing it.” Peter DeWitt in response to The River – A Complicated Metaphor for Education

“I also suspect that the people who successfully use SMART goals are the organised, goal-driven types who don’t really need them! I’m in favour of planning, breaking a goal down into steps and weekly monitoring of progress – the writing of the goal itself is a bit of a red herring.” Deb Joffe in response to Are SMART Goals Always That Smart?

“The idea of being able to tell a story is so important and having a belief and passion makes it so much easier.” Tony Richards in response to Takes More Than An App to Make a Good Presentation

“If we want students to show say,  that they understand the underying factors which led to the Great War,  do they have to do that in essay format? Or can we be more liberal in the format we accept?” Ian Guest in response to Supporting the Tool Without Teaching the Tool

“I think education still has a lot to learn not only about digital technologies, but also what we teach about them and how we utilise them also. How can we preach to our students the ideals of digital citizenship in a context that is not what they experience outside of a classroom. We say all these things but don’t show them the practice of it, and we are in a system that wouldn’t allow us to even if we wanted to.” Rebecca Jameson in response to A Meditation on the Taboos Associated with Being Connected

“Love Rockwells list. My favorite is ‘teach others your skills’. Maybe some people feel insecure of doing this as this empowers others and can be seen as a threat. I think true leaders do this and arent afraid of not being in ‘control’ of people.” Jason Graham in response to Can Everyone Really Be a Meaningful Leader

“‘Getting connected’ has made the biggest changes to my practice in the last 4 years. It has provided me with support, inspiration, goals to work towards and challenges from others that have all helped me grow and develop.” Gillian Light in response to Moving From the Ultranet to 21st Century Learning

“It is not the one liners that cause the problems – it is what one does with them as we both have said. They are excellent starters for deep discussion as we can spend time unpacking them with colleagues. We can look at the ‘intention’ that brought them to be ‘one liners’ and we can examine the complexities that reside in what seems to be a simple statement. Then we can have a look at dangers and opportunities in perpetuating these one liners.” Peter Skillen in response to Can You Really Find Wisdom in One-Line?

“I hear too many teachers complaining when there is no curriculum for them to use. I also hear them saying, not usually directly, that they can’t facilitate student learning in any area they don’t have the expertise to control the learning. Bottom line, they control the process (much more than “providing structure”) of learning, thereby stunting that learning. Teachers need to tinker and play with things and ideas WITH other teachers (sharing helps everyone involved), making mistakes, learning from them. And this is not just for STEM / STEAM topics either.” John Bennett in response to Tinkering, Passion and the Wildfire that is Learning

“I thought the main issue that some may or may not have had with some of the responses to The Age article was about whether they were playing the woman or the ball? That said, just as the original article stays on the web so do the tweets (and other comments) of disapproval. History is the ultimate judge of us all!” Richard Olsen in response to Tribes Are Good, But Do They Really Evolve the Conversation?

“You’ve hit on a topic that I think is probably one of the biggest issues facing Australian schools (and probably schools worldwide) at the moment. We continue to educate and assess students in a way that seems to assume literacy, and what it means to be ‘literate’ hasn’t changed in 50 years. Worse, our teachers are hopelessly ill equipped to teach digital literacy skills primarily because the vast majority of them don’t have those skills themselves.” Richard Lambert in response to What’s So Digital About Literacy Anyway?

“When I hear people frustrated about connecting to learn and that they don’t have the time and that they get nothing out of it, almost always it’s because they didn’t commit to forming relationships or contributing to the communities. I agree it’s a way of existence, a way of doing things. And to explain it to someone who hasn’t experienced it is a very difficult thing” Lyn Hilt in response to PLN, a Verb or a Noun?

“I am increasingly feeling that maybe “independence” is not the right word, and maybe “responsibility” or ownership of one’s learning are better, as they allow still for community or expert support, but having the learner lead their own goals and maybe assessment criteria as well as pathways to learn. This, in formal learning situations might mean there are some enforced common goals (learning outcomes) but individual goals also have space. How both types of goals are assessed can be partlycommunal (community created rubrics) and individual (i sometimes let my students choose a couple of criteria they want their projects assessed upon – it highlights what they intended to achieve).” Maha Bali in response to Grades and Limits It Just Ain’t Life-Long Learning

“My experience is that even very young children can plan their own curriculum. Nursery age children can plan their own day and I once had the experience of starting off a term with 6 and 7 year old children with a couple of days collaborative planning of what we would cover in the next 6 weeks. The plan/curriculum map was posted on the wall so that we could keep a track of what we had agreed and how we were progressing. At the time it was a real surprise to me that such young children could competently plan a whole half-term’s work.” Jenny Mackness in response to Some Reflections on Uncertainty

“Leadership have shown over the years I’ve been a teacher to be inconsistent in the way they offer and show appreciations to staff.  What is the point of not planning it as you say and just putting someone on the spot in a meeting and (to a degree) alienating the rest of the staff?” Rick Kayler-Thomson in response to When Encouragement Isn’t So Encouraging

“Whilst I think that the scope and mechanics of how we run our associations is changing, the fundamental yearning for inspiration and a meaningful relationships with colleagues has not and probably will not change. Whilst we can amplify much of what we do with online tools, we still seem to require some measure of face-to-face interaction to kick-start or catalyse the process.” Roland Gesthuizen in response to In the Association We Trust

“Indeed a curriculum is a compromise. Many different “forces” have influence on a curriculum and there’s only so much time per year and there are only so many year in a school. I just learned from a politicologist that in politicology they call it “fighting the last war”.
Decisions are mostly based on the last war fought.” Ronald L in response to Curriculum as a Verb

“As educators, we’re really not very good at following our own advice are we? We do our best to promote the capability for independent problem solving in our students using techniques such as 3B4Me … but do we model that good practice as learners ourselves?” Ian Guest in response to Change the Mindset, Don’t Change the Program

“It is always good to reflect on the developments we make even if it does not appear like much has happened. I like the idea of plans and setting goals because it helps us track whee we are at and makes us (teachers) and leadership accountable. These plans don’t need to be war and peace but they do need to describe what we want learning to look like with the support of ICT as a tool. The best place to start is where we have been.” Tony RIchards in response to Looking Back to Look Forward

“Denial is pervasive, we would rather hide our heads and assume things will be ok if we do it one way, than take a risk, or face the facts and work with what we have.” Pernille Ripp in response to Denial Never Worked for No-One

“No ‘approach’ or ‘framework’ is best but being well informed about different iterations of student centred learning (and even more didactic approaches) allows us to, as you so beautifully put it, mix the right cocktail for and with the learner (hmmm that doesn’t sound quite right does it!!).” Kath Murdoch in response to So Which Pedagogical Cocktails Are You Drinking Today?

“Often, in discussions about teaching, I find people tend to take very fixed positions. Depending upon whom you speak to, textbooks, worksheets and even desks are evidence of bad pedagogy, while bean bags, collaboration and creativity are evidence of good pedagogy. I think teaching is far more complex than that. We need to look far deeper and consider what our current group of students require to learn –  and in some contexts,  that may well be a didactic appropach.” Corinne Campbell in response to So Which Pedagogical Cocktail Are You Drinking Today?

“I found that when we moved it from the digital portfolio to this passion based blog the program took off – kids just loved it and the notion of writing for authentic audiences etc became a reality. Prior to that it was really hard for the kids to get any external interest in their blogs which would lead to all those great things like increased feedback cycles etc. The main reason was because no one is really interested in your digital portfolio.” Kynan Robinson in response to Sharing the Load of Blogging In and Out of School

“I think that ultimately, communities are defined by their sharing. The notion of ‘culture’ for example, can be described as ‘shared symbolism and interaction’.  If we don’t share our ideas, thoughts and knowledge, how will we know each other?” Steve Wheeler in response to Are You Really Connecting If You Are Not Giving Back?

“I like the “pencil lab” point, but in reality, computers don’t cost 10 cents. Even though fear is an issue, money is still the biggest issue with tech.” Mark Barnes in response to Repositioning the Use of Technology in Schools

“There was a quote doing the rounds on social media recently stating that ‘technology should be hidden in classrooms’. I think this statement to be very true. The devices your school choose to use should be in the classroom but not be the focus, they are simply there to support students learning.” Corey Aylen in response to What Digital Revolution?

“The supposed waste of money and time spent on technology over the last few years pales in comparison to the waste of time, money and opportunities where largely uninterested teachers take largely uninterested kids through a largely outdated textbook… not to mention all the other woeful things schools subject their students to.” Richard Olsen in response to What Digital Revolution?

“Confident and well planned empowerment is the key for me but empowerment of students with technology is so important to many schools to influence the changes in terms of tech integration but more importantly, in terms of pedagogical changes, moving the teacher from being the ‘information dictator’ in the classroom.” Nick Jackson in response to What Digital Revolution?

“Ultimately, students are assessed in VCE exams which test how much content a student can remember. As long as this remains the case, the full engagement of schools in 21st century skills will be slow.” Paul Tozer in response to What Digital Revolution?

“It’s very important to have an online presence and great digital footprint. I am worried when I google someone and find nothing. No evidence of existence online. Warning bells ring. So it’s a must for all our students to realise its. Not an extra identity but part of your identity. Your real identity.” Jenny Ashby in response to Take the Power Back – Steps in Taking Ownership of Our Online Identity

“I have commenced a new practice whereby with every class I teach, for the last lesson of every term, I provide a brief reading as a prompt and then we spend the entire lesson discussing learning and teaching. The conversation can move from reflecting on expert opinions about learning to the more gritty aspects of how I teach, how they learn, and how we are learning as a group.” Cameron Paterson in response to Sharing Includes Students Too

“As connected learners we are not just curating ideas and resources, we are creating relationships, some are just ‘weak ties’ but others are very meaning, rich and strong. I don’t just read Dean, I hear his voice, I connect to previous things he has said, and I pause just a little longer if he says something I disagree with.” David Truss in response to Learning in a Connected World

“I agree with the point regarding consultation, this is key, particularly with the education board and the parent community as they need to have a voice and input into anything as drastic as 1:1 or BYO technology.” Anthony Speranza in response to 1:1 Devices in School

“Probably my biggest step in becoming connected was when I volunteered my school at the time, to host the first Melbourne Teachmeet. I had been lurking on Twitter for some time, and happened to see a tweet from @MrMitchHughes asking for someone to host a teachmeet. I was intrigued by the idea, however not been one to step easily out of my comfort zone, I decided the only way I would be brave enough to attend was if I volunteered my school.” Margo Edgar in response to How Far We’ve Come

“Never before I think have we been staring at the complexity and mess of learning and the failure of the one-size-fits-all approach to it.” Clarissa Bezerra in response to The Tree – A Metaphor for Learning

“Being abusive, being a troll, that is radical ie extreme. Engaging in a spirited, respectful, rigorous dialogue – that just hones your skills, firms up your views and improves your ability to articulate and justify (or modify) your position.” Alan Thwaites in response to Do You Have To Be Radical To Be A Connected Educator?

“I think the important thing is remembering that we’re all in this to help our students. So we’re all on the same team even when we disagree about the strategies we’re using to achieve what we want. So everything I read, whether it’s a tweet or a blog, I remember that the writer is coming from the same place as me.” Eric Jenson in response to Signals, Noises and Relationships

“You cannot ‘create’ a community but rather, you create the environment in which a community can grow and flourish. This is the value of f2f communication afforded by a physical conference that is supported by the online conversation.” Camilla Elliott in response to Presentations Don’t Make a Conference, People Do

“I hadn’t really thought much about the commenting aspect but was elated, surprised and intrigued after I received my first comment from a teacher from Texas. It essentially awakened me to the possibility of learning with people across the globe. I was able to have conversations both on my blog and on others that interested me and it quickly became a place of learning and has remained the most important element of my professional learning life.” Dean Shareski in response to Being Connected, What is Your Story?

“I’ve been wrestling with whether Twitter is an information stream or a stream of ideas and individuals that I want to learn alongside.  It’s clearly becoming an information stream — and there are pros and cons to that.” Bill Ferriter in response to Leveraging Twitter

“We need to look past the tools and focus on the pedagogy. To hone in on why we are using these tools and how can they improve our practice as educators and students meeting more learning outcomes, more often, with more purpose.” Corrie Barclay in response to Why I Put My Hand Up for #GTASYD and Why I’m Excited

“Teachers have to model themselves unfolding and expanding if they are to expect that of their students.  It’s really hard though as “we” have become so passive/complacent in our ways of approaching teaching/learning and yet at the same time driven to do so much for others.” Maureen Maher in response to Teachers Are Learner Too.

“Problems only make sense within a context. Without that, the scope could be too overwhelming and broad and the skills involved in problem solving would potential be lost.” Catherine Gatt in response to Adding Ambiguity into the Learning Mix

“I ask my students to share the ways they can present their work prior to starting the task. This provides them with the opportunity to try something new and seek assistance from ‘experts’ within the class, if they wish.” Michelle Meracis in response to Surely Presentations Are More Than Just a PowerPoint?

“The collaborative process allowed us to actually practice what we were preaching and that is to give voice to others. There were times were we had different views or takes on the situation but together we worked through to a greater vantage point.” Steve Brophy in response to Learning to Learn by Learning – A Reflection on a Collaborative Project

“I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, innovation will be a natural part of every teacher’s day to day practice.” Richard Olsen in response to Celebrating Innovation, Both Big and Small

“IMHO the lone nut who tightly holds onto the idea without sharing it or letting go is insecure. What if we helped create a more secure environment and a place where sharing ideas is the norm?” Andrea Stringer in response to Whose Idea Is It Anyway?

“Having links and contacts to educators in other parts of the world helps us to lift our minds out of cynicism and back onto why we became educators in the first place.” Dan Leighton in response to #GTASYD 2014 – Feet on the Ground, Head in the Clouds

“As AR gets better, we’ll have to become smarter at knowing when not to use it. ” Matt Esterman in response to Imaging and Imagining the Past

“We get so caught up in how and what and forget the why. Much of what we do comes down to people, relationships, and heart.” Lisa Meade in response to #WhyITeach and the Answer is Not Technology

“Really meaningful change requires both a collective understanding of purpose and values, and also requires leadership from the top of whatever structure you’re working in.” Cameron Malcher in response to Three Things Learnt from a Finnish Lesson

“I’d love to know if you see any downsides to going Google. I spend so much time thinking about the benefits that I really haven’t thought about the potential problems GAFE might raise. I’m not worried about privacy, but are there any other possible dark sides to GAFE?
What do you think?” Eric Jensen in response to Going GAFE from Scratch

“For the most part, I think that official leadership works best when it is largely invisible, when people just do their jobs well so that people in their organisation can do their jobs the best they can.” Mark O’Meara in response to Can Everyone Be a Meaningful Leader?

“you don’t always need the latest technology, and lots of it, to make a difference and provide great opportunities for students to be innovative and collaborative.” Pam Thomson in response to Looking for a Local Perspective on Blogging

“Too often we are eyes forward, moving at high speed and not often enough do we take the time to look back at our path and celebrate the highs and lows of the journey. Our collaboration was part of a really significant learning growth for us both and most excitingly the start of many more discussions, encounters and projects.” Steve Brophy in response to Uncanny Reflections on a Year Blogging

“Too often we are eyes forward, moving at high speed and not often enough do we take the time to look back at our path and celebrate the highs and lows of the journey. Our collaboration was part of a really significant learning growth for us both and most excitingly the start of many more discussions, encounters and projects.” Jen Moes in response to PLN, a Verb or a Noun?

“Everything is an assessment. Everything the students say (and don’t say), write or do… every question, thought, response or misconception that they express tells us something about where their learning is at. Our role is to watch, listen and observe the learning (more data!) so that we know where to go next to support each learner. (By the time you get to a summative assessment, it’s too late to do anything about it.)” Edna Sackson in response to Goals, Growth and Getting Going in 2015

“There must be a deliberate, well thought out intent and purpose for using this equipment and that links with making the learning meaningful and relevant. Its a bonus when technology is working well and allows us to get to this point more quickly.” Anne van der Graaf in response to 21st Century is More Than Just Technology, But It’s a Big Part of It

“It’s great to know that not only people occasionally take the time to read what I write, but that it also – on occasion – resonates!” Dan Haesler in response to Looking for a Local Perspective on Blogging

“I think that whilst Twitter has so many fantastic benefits, it may not be to everyone’s liking. Me personally, I use Twitter, Google+ and Feedly. However, I find the Melbourne TeachMeets to be most valuable.” Michelle Wong in response to Should Every Teacher Really Be On Twitter?

“I get so much value from reading other people’s work – I try to comment on at least one post each day. The conversations that spring from blog posts and comments are fantastic relationship and connection builders!” Robert Schuetz in response to Should Every Teacher Really Be On Twitter?

“I’m just scratching the surface of heutagogy as a framework (swimming in the wake of Jon’s progress) but it should be an aim of K-12 schooling to have students equipped to be independent and confident learners (most would have it in their school policies somewhere).” Matt Esterman in response to Why Do You Come to School?

“Professional development is by it’s nature individual. So choices should be made. Lots of colleagues do not feel comfortable online. I find that colleagues that become friends lead to links on Facebook, meet at Teachmeets and other education events or face to face meetings.” Andy Knill in response to Should Every Teacher Really Be On Twitter?

“I have a Twitter list called “Face-to-face” for the exact reason that those Tweets somehow mean more to me. It’s funny that this list includes people I have only recorded Google Hangouts with!” Richard Wells in response to Should Every Teacher Really Be On Twitter?

“Why do I blog? I blog because it’s fun, because it’s encouraging that other people find it amusing, and because it’s a great way to connect professionally with people locally and globally. But the real reason I blog? Like my friend @acampbell99 says, it’s strictly selfish.” Royan Lee in response to Blogging Starts with Why

“Many teachers are amazed when they see learners actually take control of their learning — an ability that some would dismiss as not a reasonable expectation to have for young learners. Jon’s experiences at St. Paul’s School in Queensland, Australia are a fabulous example of what can be achieved in the K-12 sector.” Lisa Marie Blaschke in response to Why Do You Come to School?

“We are not there 100% by any stretch. But we are inspired and will keep chipping away at it. One teacher said to me recently – in my new role, I walk a blurry line between feeling I am ‘working hard and hardly working!’” Jon Andrews in response to Why Do You Come to School?

“Can I be cheeky and say the I learned you can write wonderfully in less than 100 words?” Celia Coffa in response to Learning Is …

“Those who lead through relationship seek to enrich both their own lives and the lives of their followers, and if they happen to be very skillful manipulators, then they can help us all make great things happen. Skillful manipulation is not a bad thing except when it is devoid of meaningful relationship. Then it can be, and usually is, awful.” Keith Hamon in response to What is Your Why?

“I think it is important not to limit our “guides” only to the people we admire. People who achieve significant things, whether those things are something good or even if they were something evil, did so by using certain skills, thinking, determination, communication methods and so on.” Alan Thwaites in response to What Would You Do? – A Reflection on Questioning

“Why is is that schools deliver 560 hours of English, or 480 hours of Maths, or 520 hours of Science across Years 7 to 10 when only 400 hours is required for each? Maybe even a reframing of terms such as ‘teaching time’ and ‘mandated hours’ to ‘learning time’ and ‘student agency’ could be a great start.” Greg Miller in response to Electives, What is Your Choice?


Often we try to capture or count those in our PLN. However, sometimes it is best to simply reflect on our interactions and go from there. What is amazing is that comments is only one place of connection and I wouldn’t even know where to start with Twitter.

What about you? What is your connected story? What great conversations have you had in the margins of your writing? Feel free to share.


If you enjoy what you read here, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to catch up on all things learning, edtech and storytelling.

creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by mrkrndvs: http://flickr.com/photos/aaron_davis/16080009909

Earlier in the year, I had the benefit of hearing Will Richardson present. Like so many others, Richardson put forward the argument that, with the drastic changes occuring in the world today, school and education is in desperate need of an overhaul.

The two takeaways I left the presentation with were:

  • Start with ten percent at a time
  • Be the change through your own learning

I have discussed both before, but was reminded about the question of learning and change recently by a post from Matt Esterman for the collaborative blog Learning e-Nabling in which he asked the question, “what gifts have you given this year?

It is easy to think that extending your learning into the 21st century is as easy as joining Twitter and creating your own personal learning network. However, for change to truly happen in education, it needs to have more facets than that. I was particularly taken by a post from George Couros where he suggested that there are three levels of ‘teacher’: classroom, school and global. I feel that a good teacher encompasses all three of these elements. It is also a good way of reflecting upon how we are making the educational world a better place. This then is how I feel I made the (educational) world a better place last year …

CLASSROOM

In regards to making the change in the classroom last year. I paid more attention to my pedagogical approach in the classroom. This led to providing students with more choice about what they do and how they do it, especially in electives. To support this push for empowerment, I continued to use ICT as a medium for communication and collaboration in order to foster thought and celebrate new knowledge, especially in intervention,

SCHOOL

On a school basis, I have taken a step back from pushing my notions of change and reform, as this was becoming more of a hindrance rather than a help. Instead I have learnt to work with and through others. For as Tim Kastelle writes, “You need the great new ideas, but you also need the execution skills to pull off the ideas.” This has culminated in getting a few people engaging beyond the school through Twitter, some exploring blogging (see for example https://commandokiddz.wordpress.com/ and http://shapingbridges.blogspot.com.au/), while others took up new ideas relating to pedagogy and technology here and there, particularly around the notions of choice and instruction. I feel that many of these ‘seeds of change’ will often grow and develop overtime. The reality is that instead of cultivating a single tree, I feel I have propagated a forest. Some will not come into fruition as when the saplings pop their heads, they are yanked out as ‘weeds’, while others see something good. The most important lesson that I have learnt is for change to truly occur, we need to hold onto our ideas less tightly. Yes, sometimes someone else might get ‘credit’ for something, but at the end of the day, that is not what it is truly about.

GLOBAL

The last area of influence is the world. It is easy to get caught up with this and jump around the globe, but sometimes the first step to becoming ‘global’ is connecting with those schools in your own area, as Sam Irwin and I did with our digital network. In regards to external professional development, I attended a few Teachmeets this year, presented at a range of conferences/sessions including DLTV14 with Steve Brophy and the Melbourne GAFE Summit. In regards to the more informal, I have continued to grow and nurture my ever so global PLN, whether this be engaging in discussion on Twitter, sharing resources on Diigo, commenting on blogs, supporting others in getting connected, creating images to capture cool ideas and just generally thinking out loud online. Although not always explicit, I think that all of these activities help build towards a better education.


Although it can be good to discuss how we are going to change the world and make it a better place, it can be just as powerful to look back upon and build on the things that we have already done. Sometimes this point of reflection has the potential to be uncanny. So what about you, what you have been doing that has made a difference? I would love to know.


If you enjoy what you read here, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to catch up on all things learning, edtech and storytelling.

 

 

 

creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by mrkrndvs: http://flickr.com/photos/aaron_davis/14929330102WALL-e quote
A teacher at school came into my office the other day excited that he’d just received a new document at a recent network meeting. The document was ‘Towards a New End: New Pedagogies for Deep Learning’. A document produced by Michael Fullan and Maria Langworthy as a part of the New Pedagogies for Deep Learning global project. The teacher in question was disappointed that we weren’t also apart of the project.
The odd thing was that I had already seen this document. Firstly, via +Jenny Ashby on Twitter and then through her blog post requesting opinions and perspectives on the various skills. While I then came upon it as a part of the WMR 21st Century Network that +Sam Irwin and I set up. +Chris Karageorge shared how his school had also joined the project.
This whole situation highlighted two things to me: one, we are all influenced in life by networks whether we care to recognise it or not; and two, are we missing the point in focusing on being connected, is that what it is all about?
In a recent post, Quinn Norris painted a picture of life in a networked world. In it she spoke about the usual – Internet, passwords and trojans. However, what struck me was how in a modern world we are all dependent on networks (not just the Internet) in some way. As she stated, “We live with and in networks every minute of everyday.” Whether it be food networks, the legal system or roads and transport, our lives are built upon an array of networks that more often than not we simply take for granted. What I felt was missing in this discussion though was the human network, the personal networks that we form. Although social media and other such platforms capture such connections and help to strengthen them, they do not take in everything. Unless you are a hermit living in a cave, which would mean that you would not be reading this, then your life is connected – to family, friends, colleagues, communities – whether you like it or not.
This perspective of being forever connected got me wondering about the notion then of the connected educator. It is easy to caught up in a discussion of the supposed benefits of being connected. However, like the discussion around having children of your own, surely what is important is the openness to new experiences, not the actual experience itself?
As I have suggested elsewhere, one could easily have children and not necessarily learn a single thing. What matters most in my view is your perspective. I think then that when people say that they don’t have time to ‘be connected’, that they are in fact saying something completely different. To me, what these people are really saying is that they already know everything and that, just maybe, they have nothing else to learn in life. They in fact don’t have time for learning.
I didn’t actively become connected to become connected. I first stepped outside of the world of Facebook and stories about high school weddings and babies into the open world of Twitter in search for greener pastures. I was in a situation at school where there were a few things that just weren’t working and I was after a different perspective on things. Ironically, I feel like I know less now then I did before I stepped out. As +Katelyn Fraser quoted, whether it be the principal, the network coach, the subject association, early on in my career I thought that it was someone else’s job to tell me what the supposedly ‘best practise’.
Through my journey, I have come to the belief that there is no one approach to rule them all. Instead, I feel that the challenge is finding the best solution for the situation at hand. That is what I tried to explain in my post on pedagogical cocktails. The idea that our pedagogical practise is a concoction of different ideas that is constantly evolving. It would be easy to argue that I have come to this position because I am a connected educator who curates a lot of ideas and information. However, I believe that I came to this position because first and fore-mostly, I am a lifelong learner, being connected accelerates this whole process.
Coming back to Norton’s discussion of networks, I would argue that all our learning is linked to networks in some shape and form. For learning involves interaction, whether it be with people, ideas or simply the world around us. Learning is never in isolation. It is complicated. It is messy. It always involves others. +Doug Belshaw provides an excellent discussion of this in regards to the myth that literacy is an isolated activity in his book, ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’. There is no escaping interaction, there is only ignorance of such associations.
I am reminded again and again of +Clive Thompson‘s piece for Wired, ‘Why Even the Worst Bloggers Are Making Us Smarter’. Thompson’s point is that whether strong or weak, our interactions constantly influence us. “The things we think about are deeply influenced by the state of the art around us: the conversations taking place among educated folk, the shared information, tools, and technologies at hand.” The act then of curation and critiquing not only forces us to be more convincing, but also accelerates the creation of new ideas and information. It can then be argued that the measurement of learning is not what you keep to yourself – scribbling in a notebook, essays kept in a filing cabinet – but how much you share with others, what you add back. Instead of the question: ‘Are you really connecting if you are not giving back?’ Maybe the real question is: ‘Are you really learning if you are not sharing that learning?’

 

Using +David Weinberger‘s notion that ‘the smartest person in the room is the room’. Learning is then about how big your room is. If you keep your learning to yourself or simply share it with colleagues in your school, how deep is your learning? +Steve Brophy made a really interesting point, suggesting that “The best professional development requires giving, whether it be your opinion, your story or your skill.” Often we set out on a journey for solutions, however if we are not open to the unexpected, the responses, the alternatives, how deep will the learning be?
Coming back to Norton, “Networks have shapes and geographies, and once you can see them you can use them.” If this is the case and all learning is connected then the challenge is understanding how you are connected and to best use these connections to come up with the best solution for your context and situation.
It is important to remember that connections, like learning, should never be a thing in themselves. The challenge is to take this learning, this knowledge, these ideas, and make them new again. Change them, adapt them, pay them forward. +George Couros sums this up best in his recent post, where he states, “The network is where the information has been found, but the ability to remix it for your own context is where innovation happens.”
So what are you learning right now and how are you using your connections to accelerate this process. I would love to know.

If you enjoy what you read here, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to catch up on all things learning, edtech and storytelling.

A Connected Continuum
“A Connected Continuum” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

This post was first shared on +Peter DeWitt‘s blog Finding Common Ground on the 30th May 2014.


There is a documentary series called Who Do You Think You Are?, the premise of which is to to trace the journey of a celebrity back to their genealogical roots. From the odd episodes that I have seen, the show works because it takes someone whose life is seen as extraordinary and it finds their story in the odd and the ordinary.

This idea of tracing our identity back to the roots got me thinking about being a connected educator. There is often so much written about getting people connected. However, one of the biggest hurdles that I have found is bridging the gap between those in the shadows, lurking in the background, to creating a more engaged community which includes commenting and collaboration. One aspect that I feel is missing are the stories of how those now connected –  those sharing, engaging, participating – actually got to that point.

In his Ted Talk presentation on The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies+Doug Belshaw suggests that new technologies often create new opportunities. “Every time you are given a new tool it gives you a different way of impacting upon the world.” What I feel is overlooked in this situation is what that impact is. No one was born connected, well at least not consciously connected, the question then is how they got to their current situation.

In many respects social media has been around in education in some shape or form for some time. However, there is still a gap in regards to the take-up. There are many different reasons for this. For +Dean Shareski, there is a digital dualism that needs to be overcome, while for +Tom Whitby the battle is over control and comfort zones. Often the arguments presented about the various benefits associated with being either connected or disconnected, however such arguments often provide little discussion of the middle ground, that space in-between and how to venture through it.

As I have discussed elsewhere, being connected and having a personal learning network is not something that is done, rather it is something that we do. My answer then is that instead of sharing the plethora of benefits, maybe we need to share our journey in all of its failures and various points of confusion.

It is important to recognise that when it comes to connecting that everyone does it differently and to borrow from +Doug Belshaw‘s work on digital literacies, sometimes coming to an understanding of what it means to be connected is just as important as actually being connected. For me, being a connected educator has involved five different steps:

Although each of these events can be considered in isolation, more significantly they can each be seen as interconnecting with and adding to the other. For example, I feel that my connections online have only been strengthened through the elaborations of my thoughts via my blog. The big question though, is what does it mean to be connected for you and how did you get to this point?

Late last year, Peter DeWitt wrote a response to the PLN Challenge that was going around. In it he shared 11 random facts and answered 11 questions set by Tony Sinanis. What was interesting though was that instead of setting 11 questions in return, Peter posed the question, what inspired you this year? This openness allowed those responding to make of it what they would.

In the same spirit of Peter’s openness, I put out the challenge, what are the markers that stand out in your journey in being a connected educator? You may not wish to write a long and elongated response as I have, but at the very least share something. Although I would love to hear your story, more importantly, it maybe the impetus for others to take the next step, whatever that maybe.


This post was turned into a video as a contribution to Alan Levine’s 2015 K12 Online Conference presentation ‘True Stories of Open Sharing


If you enjoy what you read here, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to catch up on all things learning, edtech and storytelling.

 
This post and associated slides are for my TL21C Reboot Session addressing the topic of: Becoming a Connected Educator (22/7/2014)
 

Becoming a Connected Educator (TL21C) – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
 
Becoming a connected educator is so unique. There is no rule or recipe to follow and no two stories are the same. The reality is that it is many things to many people. The biggest challenge is continually defining what it actually means to be connected and why it is important. I don’t wish to offer some cure, rather I hope to keep the conversation going.
 
Instead of providing a recipe, my approach has always been to share some of the choices that I have made and my thoughts behind them. Although signing up to various platforms is important, it is the journey associated with this that matters most to me. As +Tony Sinanis says, in reflecting on his own connected experiences, “the Twitter experience is a journey … it is not an experience that can simply be replicated for those who have yet to be connected.”
 
It is important to understand that being a connected educator does not automatically make you a better learner. Just because you have a Twitter handle doesn’t make you special in itself. Although it may give you access to a global audience, this does not magically make you connected. As +David Weinberger points out in his book Too Big To Know, “Even if the smartest person in the room is the room itself, the room does not magically make all who enter it smarter.” The question that we need to consider is not whether we are connected or not, but rather how we connect.
 
Too often people believe that being connected somehow leads to something more, a conduit to some higher form of being. They enter with the question, ‘What’s in it for me?’ I am not sure exactly what I thought being a connected educator would be, however the one thing that I have come to realise is that networks are not constant, they are more akin to a verb, rather than a noun.
 
Too often people describe PLN’s as something we build. However this misses the organic nature. I believe that they are better understood as a plant which we help grow and nurture. Our networks will only ever flourish as much as we let them.
 
Associated with the focus on networks is a focus on learning. To get the most out of being connected I allocate learning time. In a recent post+Peter Skillen made the suggestion that the goal of a project should be to formulate questions, rather than starting with one. I think that this definitely applies to being connected. Sometimes you just need to tinker and play, wonder and explore, in order to know what it is you are looking for.
 
I feel that connecting and conversing is better thought of as sitting at a bar drinking pedagogical cocktails where we can mix different ingredients to come up with our own flavours. This does not mean that everyone should do Problem Based Learning or didactic learning should be banished, instead it is about choosing the right method for the moment, rather than keep on drinking the same old cocktail again and again.
 
One of the most empowering aspects about learning online is that there is always some form of learning just waiting for us. As +Alec Couros suggested, “some of the best learning happens each day on Youtube whether it is meant to happen or not” I once described this as ‘hidden professional development‘, playing on the idea of the hidden curriculum, but I really like +John Pearce‘s notion of pop-up PD, that learning that can happen anywhere, any time, where there are people willing to learn.
 
One of the keys to learning online is actually giving back. If everyone just lurked from a distance, not only would this limit the depth of conversations that occur online, but it also limits how much you actually get out of such connections. There are many different ways of giving back, from simply sharing links to remixing ideas. The choice of how we do this is up to us.
 
Sharing should be thought of as a way of being. Many worry about whether there is worth in what they are sharing. However, only the community can decide such worth. As Clive Thompson states in reference to blogging, “Having an audience can clarify thinking. It’s easy to win an argument inside your head. But when you face a real audience, you have to be truly convincing.” Surely then sharing can only be a good thing?
 
One of the most important elements to building relationships is having a clear and definable identity. After spending some time hiding behind various quirky images and username, inspired by +Anne Mirtschin, I took the steps to create a consistent digital badge that I ‘wear’ online. Associated with this, I developed an About.Me to connect together  all the different spaces where I exist. I feel that making these changes has aided with my connections.
 
In the end, there are many choices to be made when it comes to being a connected educator. For example:
  • Who do I follow?
  • What details do I provide about myself?
  • Which platforms should I work on?
  • Should I blog, vlog, create a podcast?
  • How many times should I re-tweet/republish links to my own work?

As +Chris Wejr points out, although it is easy to suggest that everyone should sign up and start sharing every last detail, not everyone is able to tweet and post who they are.

 
I think that +Steve Brophy sums up the situation best when he makes the challenge, “Be the connection that gives other learners a voice.”
 
What has been your biggest hurdle in becoming a more connected educator? Can you provide an example as to how you are giving other learners a voice?

If you enjoy what you read here, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to catch up on all things learning, edtech and storytelling.

creative commons licensed (BY-NC) flickr photo by mrkrndvs: http://flickr.com/photos/aaron_davis/14421694749
 
I recently wrote a post wondering whether you have to be a radical in order to be a connected educator? In response, +Eric Jensen directed me to Tom Sherrington’s post ‘Signals and Noises in the EduSphere’. In it Sherrington discusses the counter-productive nature of disruptive noise when it comes to communicating online. I tried to post a comment on the blog, but it produced an error, so I decided to simply elaborate my thoughts here instead …
 
In his post, Sherrington postulates that the mode of communication that we choose affects the depth of understanding that we achieve. In a ‘high quality exchange’ we are able to build upon ideas by finding common ground which includes challenging and refining our own opinions. In contrast to this, a ‘low quality exchange’ involves ideas losing their meaning as they are not given time or lack any sense of context. One of the keys, according to Sherrington, to creating a signal and not just more noise are relationships and remembering the people behind the ideas. He ends his piece with the suggestion, “When I disagree with someone or review their work, I’ll imagine sitting in front of them, face to face, before I express (broadcast) my views.” This is some great advice and says a lot about connecting online.
 
Sherrington’s musings reminded me of a post I wrote a few months back in response to +Peter Skillen‘s wondering as to whether the modern phenomena of perpetuating ‘one-liners’ was actually detrimental to productive change? At the time, I thought that there were many benefits to Twitter, such as coherently summing up the main idea, curating a digital identity, engaging with aphorisms and perpetuating a hope for a better world. However, I am becoming more and more pessimistic about such prospects. I still see a place for Twitter as a means for communication and I still feel that many of my arguments still stand true to some degree. I am sceptical though about the benefits of getting every teacher on Twitter, as +Mark Barnes recently posed. I think that this misses the point to a degree.
 
Twitter is most effective when it is built around and in addition to communities and relationships that already exist. Fine you can form relationships within Twitter, but as both Sherrington and Skillen point out, the medium is restrictive. I believe teachers should grow their own PLN, a point I have made elsewhere. Too often though, people constitute following 1000 excellent educators as developing a meaningful community. It is what we do with those people, how we interact, the stories that connect us, which make a community.
 
I was recently going through old +Ed Tech Crew episodes. In a 2011 interview+Doug Belshaw explained that he limits the people he follows on Twitter to 150. He calls it a ‘convenient hypocrisy’. Interestingly, he has since reneged on this, instead now choosing to use lists to split between those people who he is open to engage with and those who he activily engages with, never missing a single thing. 
 
Belshaw’s suggestion was a godsend for me as I was really struggling to maintain any sort of personal connection on Twitter. In my early days it was ok, I only had a few followers and could keep my finger on the pulse, but as my feed steadily grew, so did my disconnect with my communitie(s). Instead, Twitter was becoming more akin to a river in which I would dip in and dip out out of. Since Belshaw’s suggestion, I have used lists and I actually feel like I am a part of the community again, because I am able to connect with those who are truly important to me. I still have my normal feed, which I dip into, but I also have my own list which I scan through every now and again. I have found using lists is particularly important when it comes to connecting across time zones.
 
After reading Sherrington’s post, I am realising more and more the power of professional relationships in turning our ideas into signals, rather than just adding to the clatter of noise. I am just wondering what tips and tricks you use when sustaining relationships online? Is it about time? Or does one medium help more than another? Have you managed to develop meaningful relationships simply within Twitter? Please share, would love to know.

If you enjoy what you read here, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to catch up on all things learning, edtech and storytelling.

 
“Sorry, I don’t have the time for that.”
 
How often do we hear that when we try and start something, organise a catchup, a get together to share. Now I am not saying that this isn’t true, however I would argue that the only thing that keeps us apart in today’s day and age is ourselves. As I have discussed elsewhere, we all have many connections in life, the big question is how do we nurture them all?
At the opening day of the TL21C program a few weeks ago, I got chatting with +Sam Irwin. We started reminiscing about our time with the 21st Century Learning Melton Network. After sharing a few stories about the halcyon days, Sam suggested that we should get the band back together. This is something that I had mooted last year, that we should maintain the group, but had never got around to doing. So this week I decided to  finally take action.

 

 
Whilst on Google+ answering various queries and questions associated with TL21C, I decided to create a space on Google+ and send out invites to those I already in my contacts and scrounge through my emails for the other teachers who were in the network. 
 
Clearly I could have created a Facebook group or a Ning, however personally I prefer the functionality of Google+, while my concern with using something like a Ning is that it is another place for people to have to go. To me, people are often already within the Google infrastructure, whether this be via Docs or Gmail, I therefore see it as a natural progression. In my message I suggested that it would be a place to share ideas and develop solutions to various problems. 
 
Over the next few days people came. Now they didn’t come in droves, it was only one here, two there, but they did come. The big question is what next. To me, I think that probably needs to be something that the group decides, for now I am happy with the knowledge that I am not alone. It takes a village and a village takes more than one.
Here then are five questions to consider when creating your own network space:

 

  • Does the space suit those populating it? There is no point using Google+ if everyone else you are trying to connect with is on Facebook.
  • Is there someone else who can help develop moment? It only takes one follower to go from a lone nut to a movement.
  • What content have your provided for people? Although long term this maybe something that you want people to add themselves, but it is good to provide something to start with.
  • Are you giving people a reason share and engage? It may simply be something as simple as a question, but make sure that you are involved too.
  • How are you engaging with others? Maybe you know your followers or maybe your network is open to anyone interested, whoever it maybe you need to consider how you are getting them on-board.
So how do you connect? What networks have you formed? What spaces do you use? Feel free to share.
 
creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by mrkrndvs: http://flickr.com/photos/aaron_davis/14392772386

If you enjoy what you read here, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to catch up on all things learning, edtech and storytelling.

creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by mrkrndvs: http://flickr.com/photos/aaron_davis/14223298149
Lately, I have been writing a lot about being a connected educator. A part of this stemmed from a tweet from +Alan Thwaites, but it also comes from my involvement in the TL21C program. However, I was challenged by a colleague the other day with the question: ‘what do we talk about when we have finished talking about getting connected?’ At first I was confused by the question for being connected is so important, then it occurred to me that maybe I’ve been focussing too much on the wrong issue?
 
It is so easy when talking about teaching and learning in the 21st century to get caught up in discussions about tools and technology. However, as I have discussed elsewhere, 21st century learning is more than just one thing. If we use the work of the team at ATC21s, it is in fact a combination of four interrelated topics:
  • Ways of thinking. Creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making and learning
  • Ways of working. Communication and collaboration
  • Tools for working. Information and communications technology (ICT) and information literacy
  • Skills for living in the world. Citizenship, life and career, and personal and social responsibility
Some schools in an effort to counterbalance the perceived over-emphasis on technology create 21st century learning positions focussing on solely on ‘thinking’ or ‘working collaboratively’. The problem with this is that in attempt to move away from technology, they create an over emphasis on another area. In doing so misses the point that in the modern world it is through the use of tools and applications that we are actually able to dig deeper critically and collaborate with those not only in our own school or state, but around the world. The best answer is to create clear a balance between them all, with the one unifying concept between them all being learning. For as Sir Ken Robinson has suggested, ‘If there is no teaching and learning going on there is no education happening’. Whether it be using an iPad, working in a group or thinking about a topic, we should always be focused on making a learning-centred environment, otherwise what is the point?
 
Take for example my recent survey of 1:1 devices in schools. Clearly I could have done it differently, gained a wider array of perspectives in a more rigid manner and written an extensive research paper on the matter. However, I had a question and that was whether many other schools had delved into the world of 1:1 and what devices they were using. After called on my connections I got back 35 responses. Now this may not be many in the scheme of things. However it still gave me a wider perspective. It also provided me a means for thinking more critically about the matter for before I sent out the survey I thought that we were the only school yet to dive into 1:1 in regards to primary school. However, I was actually unpleasantly surprised that in fact many schools had yet to go down that path. I think then that being connected and having an array of connections was integral to getting back the feedback that I got and gaining a better perspective.
 
One of criticisms often levelled against connectivism is how do you measure what is important, with information in abundance, how do you decide what should stand out. Other than going down the road of collaborative curation using sites like Diigo where your search is aided by those in your community, I agree that there is a level of chance involved in who might be listening, watching and participating. In addition to this, who is to say that those offering up ideas are that are useful, correct or even honest in the first place. I think though that the biggest problem begins with the notion of the ‘connected educator’, I think that we would gain more from redefining this notion as ‘connected learner’ as that is really what this is all about.
 
In the end, the only thing and the most important thing is learning and with that a focus on ourselves as learners. However, I still feel that a lot is gained by being involved within more communities and having stronger connections on and offline.
 
So how do you learn best? What helps you out the most? Do your connections help or hinder your quest for solutions?

If you enjoy what you read here, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to catch up on all things learning, edtech and storytelling.

creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by Trekking Rinjani: http://flickr.com/photos/trekkingrinjani/4930552641

Last Wednesday night I participated in a Hangout with the team involved in coordinating the Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century professional development program offered by the education department in Victoria. For whatever reason, I didn’t sign up last year. Subsequently, I looked on in awe and a little bit of jealously (if I must be honest) at all the awesome learning (and fun) that seemed to be going on. When it was offered this year, I was therefore keen to be involved, especially after sitting the backchannel of the ACCELN broadcast reviewing last years program. As things unfolded, +John Thomas got in contact, asked if I’d like to be a coach and the rest is history.

 
It is interesting thinking about how I got to this point. Actually when you stop and think about it, it is interesting considering how anyone got to where they got to. For me it has been a bit of long journey.
 
As I have pointed out recently, one is not born connected. I see it more as a choice, a decision, a mindset. Often it is easier to sit back and lurk online, but for me that simply wasn’t connecting. However, there is another side I feel to lurking that often goes ignored. For some it isn’t just about what is ‘easy’ or whether they have the ‘time’. Rather for some being connected is an ongoing challenge, something that +Chris Wejr touched upon in his great post ‘Not Everyone Is Able To Tweet and Post Who They Are‘. Sometimes this challenge is the stepping out into the great unknown. It was for that reason that I published a series of posts outlining by journey in becoming more connected educator, which culminated with my post ‘Becoming Connected: So What’s Your Story?‘ on +Peter DeWitt‘s blog Finding Common Ground.
 
My hope was that those who sometimes sit back out of fear or trepidation can take the next step on their connected journey. In seeing the varied examples of how different people have taken the next step and prospered, they too can step out and maybe share a little bit of their learning and in the process, themselves.
 
So far I have already received some great responses:
Although some responses just a tweet, it still maybe the impetus someone needs to step out of the shadows and get involved.
 
So let me know, what did you do to take the next step? Who was it that helped you along the way? What event was it that made a difference? For surely once people see that they are not alone in their experiences then they can raise the next step with a little bit more confidence.

If you enjoy what you read here, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to catch up on all things learning, edtech and storytelling.