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If you’re afraid of change, social media is a distraction and a risk

Seth Godin says:

If you’re eager for change, every bit of information and every event represents an opportunity to learn, to grow and to change for the better. You hear some advice and you listen to it, consider it (possibly reject it), iterate on it and actually do something different in response.

On the other hand, if you’re afraid of change or in love with the path you’re on or focused obsessively on your GTD list, then incoming represents a distraction and a risk. So you process it with the narrative, “how can this input be used to further what I’ve already decided to do?” At worst, you ignore it. At best, you use a tiny percentage of it to your advantage.

via http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2013/11/your-incoming-process.html

25,000

25000

Although my Twitter birthday is April 11, 2007, it took me four tries over at least a year’s worth of time before I really understood how to make it work for me. Since then it’s been an invaluable resource for my professional and personal growth, both as a learning channel and as a resource dissemination vehicle.

Three days ago I hit the milestone of 25,000 subscribers. I realize that following someone on Twitter doesn’t require an enormous effort, but nonetheless that’s a big number. The numbers of people who follow me on Twitter and read my blog are roughly equal now. Thank you, each and every one of you, for including me in your learning networks. I’m humbled every day by your willingness to connect with my ideas and resources and am grateful that we live in a time when we have so many different options for global communication, connection, and learning.

Just 40,151,317 more to catch Justin Bieber!

Interest-driven learning is now both accessible and required

Mimi Ito says:

There have always been people who are really passionate about their learning and interest-driven, but with the advent of new technology, this kind of learning becomes something that is not only more accessible but also, really, required.

via http://spotlight.macfound.org/featured-stories/entry/qa-mimi-ito-on-connected-learning-for-all

In an open access world, are you giving back or just taking?

Fromproprietarytoopen

The same movement that we are seeing toward open educational resources in higher education also is permeating P-12. Many educators have happily tapped into the incredible learning opportunities that are available to them and their students. Our ability to be powerful learners has never been greater.

Lost in all of the eagerness around consumption, however, is a concurrent felt need to contribute. Many educators are willing to take and use free resources as they find them, but far fewer create and share resources for the benefit of others. This lack of reciprocity undercuts the ethos of sharing that helped create – and now sustains – the vigor of our new online information landscape.

One of the best things that we can do to improve our local and virtual learning communities is to take seriously our ability and obligations to be contributors to our shared global information commons. We should do this ourselves as educators and we should have our students do this too.

How often do you, your staff, and/or your students contribute something online (with a Creative Commons license) to benefit others? What can you do as a leader to foster an environment of sharing and giving back, not just taking and using?

Drop me a note if you’re a principal or superintendent who is ready to think seriously about this. I’d love to chat with you.

Image credit: From proprietary to open

We have every reason to be skeptical of social media

I agree with Levi Bryant’s recent post on the matter of cynicism. We have every reason to be skeptical of social media. There is no doubt that ideolgical and capitalistic motives lie behind the arguments for social media. Hell, in most cases, such motives are front and center. Should we be skeptical of Instagram or Facebook or Coursera? I think so. But should we be skeptical about the premise of networked sociality in itself? Or should we be looking to adapt/invent practices for this environment? Levi writes that as a result of cynicism “We thus strangely find ourselves in the same camp as the climate change denialists, the creationists who use their skepticism as a tool to dismiss evolutionary theory, and those that would treat economic theories as mere theories in the pejorative sense and continue to hold to their neoliberal economics despite the existence of any evidence supporting its claims.  We critique everything and yet leave everything intact.” It’s a bold argument perhaps, as it equates what we imagine as the height of intellectual behavior (critique) as functionally equivalent to some of the more blantant examples of what we would term anti-intellectualism. However, I think the same thing could be said for our treatment of social media.

Alex Reid via http://www.alex-reid.net/2012/12/academic-cynicism-social-media-and-the-fate-of-the-humanities.html

5 videos on connected learning from the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub [VIDEOS]

Here are four very powerful videos from the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub that are guaranteed to make you think hard about learning, teaching, and schooling. You can watch them all in less than half an hour. My quick notes from the videos are included underneath each one…

Engaged (7 minutes; Connie Yowell)

  • we are fundamentally starting with the wrong questions
  • we start with learning outcomes – and content defines everything – rather than “what is the experience we want kids to have?” 
  • our core question is around engagement; if you ask “is a kid engaged?”, you have to pay attention to and start with the kid
  • we have to make room for curiosity, we don’t have enough opportunities for kids to take things apart and wonder about them
  • little opportunities to fail and iterate are also opportunities to play with identity
  • we need opportunities to explore who we are in the world and how the world works, particularly as teenagers
  • we so decontextualize learning for kids, we’ve forgotten we have a passion for learning
  • in school they could care less, but in complex games kids demand that they learn how to do something so they can move on
  • as adults, we have to deeply connect content and students’ activity, otherwise learning has no meaning

Everyone (7 minutes; Mimi Ito)

  • we give responsibility for learning to professionals instead of remembering it’s the fabric that frames all of our interactions with everybody
  • connected learning networks force us to fundamentally rethink what we think is the problem and goal of education
  • it’s about expertise that’s widely distributed; anybody can help somebody else get better at something
  • if you have an educational system that always tell students what to do, you’re not building their capacity to make effective learning choices themselves
  • we used to have capacity bottlenecks for learning, so you had to go to school or a library – now we don’t have that problem but we still act as if we do
  • education isn’t bound to particular institutions anymore, it can happen anywhere
  • how does a kid find a mentor or peer that helps them develop their interest, make their interest relevant, find a sense of purpose, etc.
  • how do we use the capacity of the network to bring people together who want to learn together?
  • everybody can participate in a connected learning model
  • the great side benefit of interest-based, connected learning is that it fosters social connection and well-being: fulfillment, belonging, and purpose

Play (7 minutes; Katie Salen)

  • play creates for people a reason for them to want to engage
  • body and spirit are transformed by play
  • play is a state of being, a very different state of mind, openness to ideas and other people
  • not a closed, rules-bound place – the openness of the play space is extremely important
  • play is one of the most fundamental human experiences
  • play is a practice space, we play to get better at something, it helps us build confidence
  • kids are driven to want to share with you what they’re doing, what they’re making, what they’re learning
  • at school, we cordon off a time for play (recess) and then you’re not doing that anymore
  • when you get older, play becomes embedded in objects (video games), you can activate play when you pick up that object
  • when we’re young, play is the frame for how we experience the world
  • adult life becomes about a set of responsibilities rather than a way of engaging your soul in the world

Creative (5 minutes, Nichole Pinkard)

  • we’re just now getting to the place in America where we realize it needs to be different everywhere, not just in some places
  • we have to completely overhaul how we think learning happens, where it happens, and what people are capable of
  • technology transformations show us the world is going to be different
  • they are going to have to be more nimble and more proficient with technology to communicate and to learn, or they’ll be a new form of illiterate
  • we no longer live in a world where you can only write and read text and you will be successful
  • we have to teach these new literacies and then let kids be creative in how they express themselves with these literacies
  • schools always have been about ‘the right answer’
  • now we care more about how kids find information, think about information, communicate information

The DML Research Hub also has an 8-minute summary video, Essence, which includes some of the best pieces from each video above plus some new stuff.

  • there’s no longer a promised future for all kids
  • how do we create environments that delight learners at all ages?
  • open up the question of who contributes to learning
  • how do we help kids grow up to become curious, engaged citizens?
  • kids say over and over that schools are (merely) a node in their network of learning
  • we have an embarrassment of (information) riches but we still have to figure out how to bring those pieces together
  • learning principles need to start with the idea of connectedness 

Finally, be sure to check out the core values, learning principles, and design principles of connected learning:

  • Core values: equity, social connection, full participation
  • Learning principles: interest-powered, peer-supported, academically oriented
  • Design principles: production-centered, openly networked, shared purpose

See also the infographic below. There’s a lot here to digest. Thoughts?

Connected Learning

Tony Baldasaro just unfollowed 5,000 people on Twitter

Bluebird2

Tony Baldasaro blogged yesterday that he just unsubscribed from every single person on Twitter that he was following. All 5,000 of them. He is starting again from scratch, deciding anew whom to follow. Here’s the comment that I left him:

I concur with Chris Lehmann. Use Twitter the way it feels right to you.

My usage is more like Chris’, I believe. I am following nearly 4,500 and am followed by many more. Here’s the way I think about those two groups:

1. Following – I don’t subscribe to celebrities or other sources that are less informational, but I do subscribe to anyone that might feed me good resources that I’ll care about. I then organize them into lists and/or use hashtags to categorize the incoming information. I don’t mind if there’s a lot of other stuff in my streams besides resources. I’m getting pretty adept at scanning a column in Hootsuite, spotting the stuff I want, and ignoring the rest. I’m not concerned about how many I’m following because I figure that the 2 seconds it took for me to subscribe to someone may pay off a month from now when that person shares something in which I’ll find value. The bigger my net, the more chance I have of catching something useful. I think about Twitter like fishing in a fast-moving river: I don’t worry about all of the fish I missed but I’m always delighted about the ones that I do catch!

2. Followers – I primarily use my Twitter account to share out resources. 90%+ of what I tweet out is a link to something I saw online and thought was interesting or useful: a quote, blog post, web site, new report, video, someone else’s tweet, etc. About 9% of my Twitter use is conversations with other people, and the remaining 1% might be occasional silliness (like the couple of Halloween pics I tweeted last evening). That ratio seems to be working well for me and, I guess, my followers since my numbers keep growing and my stuff keeps getting reshared (which I want because I want to reach people and be helpful).

I looked at the new, short list of people that you’re now following. That’s a great group that’s guaranteed to feed you awesome stuff (I also found a couple of folks I thought that I was following but wasn’t so thank you!). I’m honored to be on that list; please know that I am appreciative. I’ll look forward to our continued interactions in the Twittersphere.

All my best.

Tony’s post reminds us that social networks are like gardens (thank you, David Warlick). They require some nurturing and, yes, some pruning now and then. Sometimes they may even be like prairies, requiring a full burn to nurture new, positive growth. Head on over to Tony’s post and join the conversation: How do you decide whom you follow on Twitter?

Image credit: Bigstock, Blue bird

If we taught our teens to drive the way we teach them about social media

Imagine for a second if we taught our teenagers to drive a car in the same manner we attempt to teach them about social media.

  1. Driving lessons would be taught by adults (teachers or parents) with little or no experience of driving. Sure they may know of certain brands of cars or be aware of some of their capabilities. They may know it is illegal to speed or drive without a seatbelt, but in reality they have spent little time behind the wheel.
  2. Driving lessons would only focus on what not to do. An average driving lesson would entail students being preached to about the dangers of speeding, drinking and driving, or not wearing a seatbelt. There may be a little advise on how to keep you and your car safe – e.g., regular service checks, installing an alarm, and NEVER allowing a stranger to get into your car would all constitute sound advice.
  3. Driving lessons would NEVER take place in an actual car. In fact cars would be banned in the majority of driving schools. So students would be able to take notes, draw pictures, or even present a PowerPoint on how to drive, but they would only be able to put these lessons into practice once they were out of sight of an adult.

Dan Haesler via http://danhaesler.com/2012/10/02/driving-down-social-media-way

An interesting solution to the ‘friending students on Facebook’ dilemma?

I may not be the norm on this but I will accept friend request from students right away. I just do it with certain rules in place. 1. If they send me a private message then I unfriend them. I usually provide a warning the first time it happens. I’ve never had to unfriend a student because of this. 2. If they are still a student and they post something inappropriate or illegal, I report it and unfriend them. I have had to do this multiple times. Now most students who post things like this don’t “friend request” me.

Brett Clark via http://www.educationrethink.com/2012/09/should-you-friend-student.html?showComment=1347973075754#c9207408757295453379

This leads me down another line of thought: What are educators’ obligations (if any) to inform parents that they’ve ‘friended’ their children on a social media site?

1,133 educational leaders to kickstart your Twitter feed

Twitterbirdblueonwhite

Got an administrator in your school or district who’s interested in Twitter but doesn’t know whom to follow? Interested in connecting online with more administrators yourself? Get started with these 1,133 educational leaders on Twitter! [UPDATE: Now up to over 2,000 leaders!]

I’ll keep adding to this collection. Special thanks to Patrick Larkin, George Couros, Lyn Hilt, Chris Lehmann, Dan Frazier, and others for helping me expand my existing list. If you’re maintaining a Twitter list of P-12 educational administrators that I should know about, or would like to chat about creative ways to use these lists, get in touch!

[Continuing what I hope will be a months-long wave of resources for school leaders and the programs that prepare them…]

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