From Geeking Out to Reaching Out

In Jeff’s Utech’s book, Reach, he mentions making the Web and networks work for you. This changed my perspective and the role I play within the internet. It also allowed me to take a look at how I interact with the web, both personally and professionally. Then, I found myself reflecting on a few things; Why is it that I’m a prosumer personally but more of a consumer professionally? Could I get my specialized knowledge and personal passions to work for me to build a network, the same way Jeff describes?

The Connectivist Theory then got me thinking, is the pipe more important than the content within the pipe?   To me, it’s the synergy of it all that is important, personal, professional, pipe and all.

Geeking Out, Professionally

Say if someone were to create a Youtube channel or a Tumblr profile as mentioned in Mimi Ito’s article, one would first need to understand and apply the skills needed to set up their page or account before they can start producing and creating content. I know this because I’ve tried it myself, with my own personal Youtube channel and blog site.

In my personal experience, I have learned a lot about apps, programs, and platforms such as Do InkFilmora, & WordPress, by tinkering with them for my own pleasure, before realizing the potential benefits that these tools hold when seen through a professional lens. Seeing them in a whole new light just reinforces the synergy of it all and proves that learning is learning no matter the time, place, or intent.

Personalized Learning

There is so much learning that goes into those foundational tinkerings, that they often get overlooked or worse get negatively labeled as “messing around.”  This misconception might occur from parent and/or teachers who don’t realize that actually, these interest-driven, passion provoked projects are far from negative. As stated in article,  Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project “messing around is largely self-directed, and the outcomes of the activity emerge through exploration”.  That statement echoes many of the common phrases uttered about 21st-century learning and classrooms.  Messing around in this sense is personalized learning in its purest form.  From Makerspaces & genius bars to low-tech learning spaces like loose parts.  “Messing around” occurs at all ages and involves the some of the highest orders of thinking and engagement. By understanding, experimenting, & creating, the students are owning their learning and already ascending  Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.

Final Wonderings??  Bringing it all together

As someone who is still quite new to PLNs, I feel more comfortable starting with my specialized knowledge with the hopes of sharing, extending, and eventually building around that.  Does your PLN reflect your specialized knowledge?  Do you have separate personal “Specialized Knowledge Networks” (SKN) or are they merged into your PLN by default? Wondering how to navigate through it all. Thoughts?


“Connectors first, content experts second”

The article, “World Without Walls” allowed me first to reflect on how much I have benefited from the aid of online experts and communities, both in my personal and professional life.

Thinking first in my professional life, the likes of Twitter and Facebook groups have provided me with instant answers to questions proposed about teaching and learning. Twitter chats such as #pypchat & #kinderchat, for example, offer free, consistent, and content specific expertise for both “the lurkers” and the active contributors.  Speaking of Twitter, expertise, and a world without walls, the social media platform offers everyone a chance to go straight to the source by reaching out to all sorts of different industry professionals.  Here are 49 other ways to use Twitter in the classroom. 

I loved the phrase, “connectors first, content experts second”.  Even within my own personal life, I look to Youtube or Google for quick quality content like, “How do I play this song on a guitar?” or “How do I cook this dish?”.  The instant connection,  endless results, and possibility to rate, like, or provide feedback is a priceless process.  Not to mention how much time it saves me or the fact that this learning can occur anywhere as long as I’m connected. In turn as a prosumer, I naturally want to give back and reciprocate the help I so easily received throughout this process.  Enter the collaboration age!

Discovering the Collaboration Age?

One reason why Google Docs works so well is due to its emphasis on real-time collaboration.  To me, the most powerful hard truth coming out of  Will Richardson’s article  is the following snippet,  “the most effective teachers will be the ones they discover, not the ones they are given.”  This type of student ownership is unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the past, and it’s unwise to attempt to resist it.  Remember, “connectors first, content experts second.”

I think it’s safe to say that we all can benefit from the Collaboration Age and the sooner we actively embrace it and actively contribute to it, the sooner we’ll all be a bit more connected to our passions. The sooner we’re all connected to passions, play, enjoyment, growth, and learning can ensue.  Perhaps even the desire to give back and showcase what we’ve learned.  Perhaps, if we didn’t have the walls to house us in the first place, we would continue to find new innovative ways to connect, create, and share altogether.

Final Wondering?

In discussing the ongoing and on growing content created online, Richardson asks, “How do we ensure that what we create with others is of high quality?”  I’m wondering, is this where digital citizenship and responsible use comes into play?? If so, how soon do you start to teach it to your student?  Kindergarten???

Would love to hear your thoughts COETAILERS!