Discussing Personal Learning Networks with Pearson’s ‘In Conversation’ series – Part two!

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Part two of the interview I had with Pearson’s ‘In Conversation’ series is now available. Click here to gain access.

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Like I said in my previous post, this interview was conducted over the phone. It’s difficult to think on your feet in situations like that, and I don’t think what I said has translated well in reference to Project Based Learning and what happens when students find themselves not succeeding. Here’s what is in the post;

I’ve had fantastic feedback from students involved in project based learning, but it’s not easy as it puts the onus on them to take responsibility for their learning. When they learn via this method, students have a sense of pride in what they’ve accomplished.

I’ve observed that that’s what they respond to best, because they want permission and the responsibility to take charge of their own learning. Through this process, they may eventually encounter and experience failure which is positive feedback. Analysing failure is something we don’t do enough of in school.

When these same students who didn’t do well finished a project, they were then able to articulate and identify where they’ve gone wrong. These same children also went on to perform better in subsequent activities because they were working through the process and ultimately learning how to fail successfully.

Hmmnn…not quite what I wanted to say! I don’t see failure as positive feedback, but it can lead to positive outcomes. In the case of the students I was referencing, they learnt from failure and went on to be very successful in subsequent PBL tasks.

Wish I’d had a rewind button so I could have fixed that up before it went to print!

I do like the quotes they have selected to place in images accompanying the interview, so I going to share them here (nice little bit of archiving for me!)

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Thank you Pearson Australia for asking me to be involved in your ‘In Conversation’ series. I enjoyed the experience and am really pleased that you have identified the strength of Personal Learning Networks to support the professional development of our teaching profession.

Discussing Personal Learning Networks with Pearson’s ‘In Conversation’ series

A few week’s ago I was interviewed for Pearson’s ‘In Conversation’ series. Here’s the premise behind the series and this interview;

In Conversation is a monthly series where we chat with some of the leading thinkers and thought leaders in the education space.
In this month’s interview, we tackled the topic of Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) to uncover the benefits and how they may impact the teaching strategies of educators.

I was very flattered to be considered a ‘thought leader’ in the education space, and even more flattered to see that they have decided to make it a two part report. It was a phone interview and it can be difficult to shape your words when you’re thinking on the spot, but I think what was relayed did justice to the work of educators worldwide who are sharing their practice and supporting their peers in social spaces.

You can read part one by clicking this link. Part two will be available mid June. I’ll be interested to read it, because it’s hard to remember exactly what I said! Here’s a nice grab of what’s to come;

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The Pearson team did a great job creating an infographic with some of my and their recommendations of people to follow on Twitter. I suggest you follow all of them and if you’re not already a Twitter user, then get to it and sign up. You’ll need a good month to get your head around how Twitter works, but stick with it. It’s where my best learning happens.

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Death of RSS?

I’ve heard mentioned in a few forums recently about the ‘Death of RSS’. I’ve been thinking about it a bit recently myself. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m referring to people no longer having time to get to the blogs and sites they subscribe to via their RSS readers. I use Google Reader for blog subscriptions but I have to admit, it’s become a long time between visits.   

Why is it so?

Simple.   Twitter.

That cool little 140 character stream of consciousness feed from the people I follow has become my most vital source of information. It is here where I discover blog posts as people filter and lead me to them, it is here where I get to know the latest and greatest next big thing, and it’s here where I can develop connections with some truly great minds who help me shape my thinking.

But this weekend was different. I laid off the twitter pursuit of new knowledge to invest some time in my Google Reader. And I’m glad I did. I read blog posts, I listened to the elongated thoughts of the people in my network and I benefited from the experience. I discovered links that hadn’t filtered through twitter. Maybe they had, but not when I was present.  Let’s face it, you can’t be there 24/7, and if you are someone who trawls back to see everything that happened while you were away, then I’m thinking it’s time to reevaluate things big time!

I still maintain that RSS is the best way to introduce people to understanding why you would want to change your practice and rethink what it means to be a teacher and a learner at this time. I think people need to read the deeper thinking of educators who are trying to harness new ways of doing things. Twitter is very fast, particularly if you follow a lot of people. It is difficult to understand its relevance when you first begin using it and it can turn people off who don’t have a good understanding of building a network.

RSS helps you build the network. Reading blogs helps you figure out who the thinkers are and they in turn lead you to the thinkers they admire. Once you’ve got a bit of a handle on the reasoning behind establishing your PLN (Personal Learning Network), you can then start following these people through twitter and build a network there.

Anyway, that’s my take on things. RSS may have lost some of its relevance with the growth of twitter, but I don’t think it’s dead. This weekend confirmed for me the need to reconnect with the deeper thinking of my network through people’s posts. Judy O’Connell linked to The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, written by Cathy N. Davidson and David Theo Goldberg, with the help of Zoe Marie Jones.  It’s a paper that has occupied my thinking for much of this weekend. Read it, courtesy of my Google Reader!!

 

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Agents of change or arrogance?

This comment appears on a Google Doc called ‘Your biggest take away at NECC 2009’. Interestingly, the contributor did not provide their name. 

“That our PLN is distancing themselves from the “norm”. There is the sense that most teachers are falling behind. But is the issue becoming that the PLN is getting to far ahead to even notice the difference?
Being a leader also means being a teacher and sometimes that includes repeating things several times.
The biggest take away I saw was Arrogance.”

I found this very interesting. Mostly because it rings true. I think we have to be constantly aware that just because some of us have adapted to new technologies and think they are transformative for teaching and professional learning, we can’t anticipate that others feel the same way.

We need to help others understand, be what our profession expects us to be; teachers. Not just for students, but for our colleagues too. If we don’t model, support and encourage, we do run the risk of appearing to be arrogant. We want knowledge to be powerful for all, not just in the hands of the few who make others feel inadequate without it.

“The biggest take away  I saw was Arrogance.”

A damaging statement. We need to work hard to ensure this is not the perception people have. If we don’t, we can’t expect to see others adapt and change their practice.

Vitual Learning Communities for staff professional development and student engagement. Digital Fair presentation.

This is the presentation I gave yesterday at the Australian College of Educator’s Digital Fair that was held at Geelong Grammar.

It was well received and, as is usual for me, I didn’t manage to get through all of the presentation as I have a tendancy to elaborate. It’s very difficult to relay the concept of learning communities and all that goes with the formation of them in an hour. I fielded questions along the way but didn’t get discussion time factored in. If anyone would like further elaboration on anything in the presentation leave a comment and I’ll do my best to address what it is you need to know.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Vitual Learning Communities for staff…“, posted with vodpod

 

 

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The power of Twitter

This tweet from Mark Pesce got me thinking this morning. So many people I know don’t write blogs or operate in an online environment. Some have difficulties dealing with email. Most of them have no understanding of what Twitter is or why on earth you’d want to spend time looking at the 140 character responses that are posted on this microblogging tool.

I was with them once. And it wasn’t all that long ago. I’d heard about Twitter but wondered why people would be interested in using this tool. Twitter’s prompt is ‘What are you doing?’ Why would you want to tell people about the minutiae of your life. I danced around it for awhile but finally started using it. Clay Burell helped me to form my network by doing a shout out for me asking people to follow me. The thing with twitter is is that you have to follow people and they need you to follow you back in order for you to see each other’s posts (tweets!). It’s a reciprocal relationship and when it’s like that that’s when it works best.

Seeing Mark’s tweet this morning prompted me to reply with my belief about the power of Twitter.

 

And that’s it really. It’s the capacity of your network to share with you that makes it such an essential tool. Twitter has taken me places I never would have found without the valuable links being provided by the wonderful sharing people involved in my network of reciprocation. Sometimes those same people who post those great links also share with me that they’ve just burnt dinner or have to put the kids to bed. And that’s OK too. I get to know them as people and enjoy the human experience with them.

Let’s face it, it’s powerful. How else would a teacher like me get to connect with a mind like that of futurist Mark Pesce? Personal learning networks are amazing. If you’re dancing around the edges of Twitter it’s time to take your turn in the middle and explore the potential of what is an incredible tool for connecting and sharing.

Personal Learning Networks – finding the right balance

I’ve posted recently about how I’m finding it difficult to achieve the right balance between my online activities and my real world life. I think things have exacerbated for me because it’s been school holidays and I’ve had more time to expand my Personal Learning Network. I’ve been more active on Twitter and have been able to access networks at different times of the day, rather than the couple of hours a night that is the norm for me during the school working week. There have been others posting about the same thing – it seems there is too much to learn and too little time.

David Warlick wrote about needing a zipper for his PLN so that he could control it and allow himself time to do things like play his guitar and veg in front of the TV. Jeff Utecht picked up on this and has written a very useful post where he outlines the stages of Personal Learning Network adoption. I love the diagram he has produced to explain these stages and hope he doesn’t mind that I insert it here (notice that he has given it a creative commons licence so everything should be fine!);

      

I’m definitely at stage 3 but think I’m starting to move into stage 4. No doubt this has been prompted by members of my family using the words ‘internet addiction’ and the fact that my kids are over my blog and sick of seeing me with my computer at all times of the day and night. I’m also just so tired – the school holidays are nearing an end and I don’t feel rested at all. I’m in an almost constant state of thinking about how we apply these ideas into our educational settings; I toss ideas around and try to make sense of the vast amount of knowledge that I’ve been exposed to. I’m loving it but realise that balance is important – roll on stage 5!