Thursday, January 21, 2016

Connecting Ourselves EDUC8845 Module 4

My Tweetwheel circa 2008
Some of my networks

            Chris Lehman, principal of Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, wrote about a post about the strength of a school system. I commented,
The strength of a school lies in the networks that are created by its students. Facilitating network formation for students is in an educators' job description.  Traditionally, a student's network consisted of teachers. The newer paradigm redefines students' networks to include those who are not present in the same time and space.  (Durff, 2008)
This is a shift in the educational space-time continuum.  Connecting, communicating, and collaborating within a global community is an essential skill for today's learners. The ability to reflect, to think, and to compose essays (pictorial, oral, or written) creatively is a skill with which I feel I must equip learners who pass through my classrooms. This view changes the way in which I learn, the way in which I lead others into learning, the tools I choose to assist me in learning or leading learning, and it changes the questions I ask as well as how I seek out additional information to answer questions.
            My networks have changed the way I learn by enabling me to know much more than before I was digitally connected. The hive mind is the belief that all of us are smarter than one of us. Digital tools enable this sort of collective intelligence.  Rather than having access to the information I can hold in my mind (which is not much), I have access through my digital networks to the information everyone else who is connected knows in their minds, or the information they have catalogued using a digital tool. For example, I can do a search on a tool like delicious for uses of VoiceThread in the classroom using a catalogue of educator reviewed examples and websites, which are catalogued by tags into a library of useful information. I do not need to hold that information within my mind but can access this library without even asking anyone a question.
            But if I want to ask people a question about VoiceThread uses in the classroom, I could go to my Twitter network of around 1000 educators worldwide and post a query. I actually did this the other day, and received numerous responses from educators around the globe. I was teaching at the time and could not write these responses down, it was good to know the software kept all these responses for me where I could access them later to evaluate them for use in my professional development workshop. Not only am I accessing the wisdom of my Twitter crowd, but the tools are enabling me to work smarter, so I can learn when it is convenient to me, not at a prearranged lecture time.
The digital tools that best facilitate learning for me include Twitter, my RSS, my Nings, delicious and diigo, and live streaming events like those at EdTechTalk, in Eliminate, or in Second Life.  These tools enable me to take advantage of what everyone else knows and the “nearly now” learning space which gives me time to connect the dots before I respond. Many tools also make my life easier including ToodleDo, Dial2Do, Flickr, Evernote, and my Google Calendars which can notify me of events on my cell phone.
When I have a question, I simply start with posting it on Twitter.  My Twitter network will point me to the answer with opinions, links, and references.  For example, earlier this month I asked for recommendations on avatar creation sites to use with kids. I received a list of recommendations that were peer reviewed by fellow educators. While Twitter was collecting this information for me, I was teaching and unable to search this for myself.  By saving time and utilizing my friends, I was using digital tools to work smarter; I was exploiting the wisdom of the digital crowd.
An educator’s job entails facilitating network creation for learners. Middle school students are shocked in August when they first arrive in my classroom and are informed that while I am the tally keeper, I am not their teacher. The traditional educational paradigm, alive and going strong at my school, is that the teacher is always right and the student’s job is to regurgitate as much information gleaned from the teacher as possible. In contrast, the connectivist theory of learning advocates utilizing knowledge found in the connections. Digital networks contain vast amounts of knowledge that no one individual, at least not this individual, could possibly hold within her brain yet all this information is searchable and catalogued neatly through the use of tagging.

Durff, L. (2008, April 30). Practical Theory - Comments on What matters. Post retrieved from & comments retrieved from[entry_id]=954&serendipity[type]=comments  

Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing knowledge.  Published online at Available at

Surowiecki, J. (2004). The wisdom of crowds: why the many are smarter than the few and how collective wisdom shapes business, economies, societies and nations. New York:  NY. Anchor Books.

This is a reposting of a some coursework done early in my doctoral journey.


featheredflowers said...

I found me!

Richard said...


Nice job.

Honestly, what you did was what I wanted to do but didn't want to take on the task to show all the connections.

Many people forget that from one connection, results another whole network. Our true distance from one another has been shrunk to almost real time, in any given place.

Simply by posting a question in facebook, an answer from an expert is usually not far away. Whether you know the expert or someone in your network does, your access to them is tremendously easier than once was, and is almost available at anytime.

By the way, what resources did you use to create your visual networks.