Posts Tagged ‘etmooc’

creative commons image by Flickr user Frog and Onion

creative commons image by Flickr user Frog and Onion

So, I’ve been thinking about what George Couros said in the Ed Leadership session of ETMOOC, which was last school year. I started writing something and then I really can’t say what happened. The thing about important ideas is they stick with you. Anyway, I’m back. So, George said, “the higher up you are the more responsibility you have to share…” He wrote a blog post about it too. Then I read an Edutopia post on a slightly different topic, but the author said, “you’re a leader and you’ve never heard of #edchat. . ?!” (I swear I read this, and I can NOT find it. The link just goes to Edutopia generally.)

Although my posts began as a rumination on change and where it can come from, really what it turns out I want to talk about is the dual responsibility of leaders to gather and share ideas. Everyone, in all professions, has some personal responsibility to keep up with his or her profession. And, there are times, years even (the baby years come to mind for me) when that is just not happening. While everyone might need a few break, it’s really not ok to get out of the habit entirely.

At any given time in a school there are going to be teachers at all different stages of their careers and professional learning. Totally fine. Not everyone needs to be out there learning new things every minute. It’s time to sit back and reflect on the ideas I’ve gathered. Personally, I find it tempting to keep gathering and gathering. I am a gatherer by nature and find it hard to resist more collecting, even when I have already gathered plenty. While all that gathering is helpful, it doesn’t come to anything until I act. I don’t have to act on the exact idea I gathered. It could be that what I collected reminded me of something else and then got transmogrified into another thing and is not even recognizable any more. But, the action I took was still inspired initially by that new learning I gathered.

When I run into that Goldilocks idea (just right, not too big or too small) it’s easy to get right to the action steps. I automatically find the time, have the energy, and have no shortage of enthusiasm for the work. No need to mess with what happens when all the stars align and inspiration strikes.

However, what about when inspiration doesn’t strike? What about when I have collected and gathered and left it at that? No action to show for my basket of sparkly ideas. I imagine I am not alone in this. I’m wandering and gathering over here, others may be doing the same on their own paths or may have wandered off. We may have even found a bench that got a little too easy to sit on. The view was good; there were plenty of snacks. Then a few people join the bench, a few more. Next thing you know it’s the Land of the Lotus Eaters and no one’s going anywhere. Where is our Odysseus, or lesser mortal, to shake us out of our stupor? Who will model action and experimentation not just dreamy collecting? Who will model sharing and reflecting? Who will be first to expose not only grand successes but thoughtful struggles and shifting ideas?

I think what George Couros and my mystery author were saying was that leaders have a responsibility to be out there first, to signal that it’s important to gather ideas, to try new things, to share ideas, and to stumble. They need not only to read and gather themselves but to share and make their thinking and experimenting visible. I would add that anyone can be Odysseus for a moment, can be that person who says ‘hey, time to get moving.’ The jostler may sometimes needs a little jostling herself in return. If we build and nurture a culture of professional learning, supported and modeled by our leaders, as George suggests, then we should be in good shape even without Odysseus, who honestly doesn’t get anyone but himself home in the end anyway. And isn’t this the point. It shouldn’t take a the efforts of Greek hero to maintain ourselves as professionals. It might take some good old mortals showing the way though.

(Digital) Storytelling

Posted: February 13, 2013 in ETMOOC
Tags: , , ,

So, I’ve been thinking about storytelling. I’m supposed to be thinking about it a little more than I actually have been, but I’m getting there.

My grandmother's chair

My grandmother’s chair.

I personally love a good story. I have an old friend who is an excellent story-teller. She’s great with mimicking voices and accents and I could listen to her tell stories, the same stories, over and over. In my family, we have some stories that we retell at certain times of the year. I’m sure we aren’t alone in having some family gems that come up every year at holiday times. Now that we have more people in our family, (my brothers and I are all married and have kids) we tell these stories to new people who weren’t necessarily in the story. But these are part of who we are and our history as a family. They are about family members who have died, but whose characteristics or habits we may see in our children. In telling them to new family members we not only bring them to the inside of the family, we ask them to share the responsibility of keeping the stories alive. Even though my children did not know my grandparents (my daughter was not even walking when my last grandparent died) it is important to me that they know the stories that we tell about them: the time my grandfather made green pancakes, how my grandmother insisted we have Champaign on Christmas morning. I have some things that belonged to them, but without the stories that go with them, they are just things. That pink (my grandmother’s favorite color) chair really doesn’t go with our decor, but it sits at my desk, in all its pinkness, because it’s a good chair and to recover it in some other color would make it just another chair.

Anyway, I am participating in ETMOOC, a massive open online course. The topic at the moment is digital storytelling. The first part of this topic is the issue of pinning down what that means. We’ve been directed to several options for definitions. My thought is that the value and beauty of storytelling is there regardless of the format. There are some new media in which to tell, share, and comment on the story, but storytelling has not morphed into something that needs a new name.

It’s probably pretty obvious that I think storytelling is important. I also think it is powerful. Part of the reason I never could get through everything I planned in class is that stories would rear their large and distracting heads. There is nothing like a story to make a point. Plus, I think that the connecting that you do in your brain to link ideas into stories or connect one event here to another story there stretches you and makes you a different, and I would say better, thinker. So, no matter what grade or subject I teach, stories are part of that. The mixing in of the story in Maira Kalman’s And the Pursuit of Happiness is one of the things that makes it so interesting. (I still want to get that idea going. I’m working on it, in a sly and sneaky way. . .)

I hope to try out some options beyond my regular repertoire. I’ll keep you posted as I tell my stories.

The Thinker

The Thinker photo by flickr user Dano used under creative commons license

So, I’ve participated in a couple of ETMOOC webinars so far. I tried to do an introduction session, but something was up with the connection at school. I very much enjoyed the session about curating content lead by Jeffery Heil. And, just last evening I participated in the first ETMOOC connected learning session with Alec. (I admit I was late for class. Since we had a day off, I actually went all out and cooked many separate and distinct things for dinner and was so busy enjoying it with my family that I had to keep eating some more. It happens.)

Anyway, here’s what I’m thinking about now.

First, during Jeffery Heil’s webinar about curation, I was thinking, how can I get him to come explain these tools to my colleagues? I was familiar with the vast majority of the particular tools but it’s never a waste of time to think about how and why we might use tools to collect, curate, and share content. I especially liked the discussion of curating versus collecting. Personally, I have adopted Evernote as my major collecting and sorting tool. It is the one that has stuck, for me. The webinar reminded me, again, that if I want to contribute more, which I do, I need to recommit myself to either diigo or delicious. I tried to do the diigo thing for a while. Even used it with my class one year. However, since saving the links publically seemed to imply some sort of endorsement, or at least having read it, I put a lot into a generic “read it later” pile and then never did. My system did not work. A few years later, I think that I will try again. Before doing so, I plan to spend some time thinking about how my Evernote and diigo will overlap/intersect. And, I’m going to try using for some professional learning options for colleagues.

Second, last evening, I was, as usual, impressed with Alec’s clear and well planned presentation on connected learning. There are a lot of webinars out there at this point and not all of them end up being led by a pro. The pros stand out. Anyway, there was a lot of information, again lots of review of things I know, but might need to remember to bring to the front of my brain. There are only so many things I can keep at the forefront of my mind at any one time and it’s handy to have that list shaken up a bit. I appreciated the many references to articles and readings. They will be helpful for me as I give background and rationale for new initiatives at my school.

Finally, one of the ideas that I took away from the chat in Alec’s webinar was “hashtags as a new literacy”. This is a key idea to think about now, in my opinion. I would say tagging in a more general sense is a new literacy as that would cover tagging in social bookmarking (Diigo, Delicious), note taking (Evernote), as well as hashtags in Twitter. It reminds me of the ability to think about key words to look up in the old index. It was always interesting to see the students who could generate those related key words, know what topics were related, handle how to expand or narrow a research topic. It speaks to thinking about how ideas are linked. Critical back in the old days and critical now.

So, that’s where I am in my head. My next steps are to try again to add diigo to my standard operating procedures, continue participating in the webinars, and to read what other ETMOOC-ers are writing about their experiences.

An Introduction

Posted: January 17, 2013 in ETMOOC
Tags: ,

So, I’ve been thinking about how to introduce myself. I am taking a massive, open, online course ETMOOC. There are now about 1,500 people signed up. One of the first things to do for the course is to introduce yourself and add your blog to the hub so that others can find you and read along with your thoughts about the course.

I figured that saying that I’m now the Director of Educational Technology after being a teacher for a long time gives a pretty good idea of what I do at work. Plus, there’s this blog that gives some idea. What I always like is when I learn something about what my colleagues do outside of school. All of a sudden they are 3-dimensional people.

I made a little video about a fun adventure my family and I had over the vacation. We went to see the exhibit The Event of a Thread by Ann Hamilton at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. It’s not still there or I would be encouraging anyone who is near by or has free time to go. So, here’s my little video about our day. Click on the image to see my video on vimeo.

Screen shot 2013-01-17 at 11.07.54 AM