Monthly Archives: December 2010

Community Trumphs Content

Its amazing… we live in a time where I can access my friends nearly 24-7, touch base with colleagues in various parts of the world and never leave my office. Sometimes all I can do is say “Wow” and just marvel in the craziness of life in 2010.

While doing some last minute work on my final project and creating on-line communities I stumbled across a great TED video titled “Community Trumphs Content”. It it Jeff Utecht a technology consultant and presenter, spoke of the importance of allowing students to have access to communities and networks, How there is such huge value in what we are learning and creating in various network communities that it  can take precedence over what content they are exposed to. Its exploring what others have to say, collaborating and sharing, rather than blocking students from making those connections.

I certainly can relate to this as I’ve always believed in the importance of educating students on the value of social networking tools rather than restricting them. Teaching them more than “how” to use the tools but rather the “why” we  use it. As part of one of my other masters classes this term in distance education we explored a relativly new on-line experience (well at least for me) called Second Life. It allows users to create a virtual “avatar” of themself and move freely through an on-line world. Initially I really wondered what the importance of this was to distance education? Why would this type of community be important? I quickly learned (after a guided tour of this site) that schools, companies and other various institutions can buy “land” and host a virtual site or meeting area. This allows users to interact with one another in real-time with virtual characteristics. Classrooms can be set up, students can participate in pre-designed content activities and  members of these communities can interact with one another throughout. The experiences were powerful and eye opening!  

I can only imagine the day, when students use these “avatars” to attend class in a virtual environment. There are however many areas in the Second Life world that would not be suitable for younger viewers (some are not even suitable for me!!) but I think this goes back to Jeff’s video. That sometimes the content is not as relative as the interactions amongst those members of a community.  If students and teachers could see beyond the basics of Second Life and look at it from the life of a 22nd century student…. who knows what would transpire!!

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A Woman with Many Hats – Learning about Leading in a PLE world

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity as part of ECI831 to discuss how we as educators are evolving and change to take on many roles as part of creating our Professional Learning Environments (PLE’s). Stephen Downes as our guest lecturer on this topic provided us with many examples of roles an educator may take on as part of their learning environments. Some of the roles he proposed included  the Learner, Collector, Curator ( guide, custodian of a collection), Alchemist (mixing of resources), Programmer (follows a linear path),  Salesperson, Convenor (bringing together of people,  a network builder), Coordinator, Designer and Coach just to name a few. 🙂

As he spoke, many of those roles began to resonate with me as parts of my educational history. The things that made me as a teacher…. me!

– I remember back to those first few years of teaching and the extraordinary amount of hats one has to wear in order to succeed in this profession. I was absolutely still a learner and soaking up information from those around me. I was a collector, forging through files, websites, books and binders to find just the right stuff for a lesson. I was defiantly an alchemist as I needed to try to mix the resources I had into something magical! A sales person was soon to follow, as I tried to sell my abilities and value to students, parents and of course administration! It’s amazing to think of all the hats one wears in those early stages of practice!

However, with that said what amazes me even more is that I don’t think teachers really ever take those hats off. As Stephen pointed out there are so many additional roles one acquired throughout their professional careers, we just keep adding more.

As one of my colleagues, Angela pointed out in her blog post “Tonight I was a Salesperson, Coach and Demonstrator” it really reminded me of how as we evolve and grow with our own professional development practices it truly becomes a reflection of the roles we take on in our professional lives and our PLE.

Thanks for a great class Stephen… I wonder what hat I will wear next?

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