Category Archives: Network

Learning Network Leadership – A Path Forward

If we are to build an effective learning network,

what will it look like?

An effective learning network is complex, changing, growing, shrinking, morphing over old, new and evolving platforms.  It reaches into classrooms and across the globe, held together by personal learning networks (PLNs) that continually build new connections, cultivate new relationships and learning while allowing others to dissipate.

It centres on individual connections and actions, yet provides far-reaching value.

It allows learning to reach the student desk more quickly than our old structures.  It puts an end to the geographic privilege of access, builds collaborative efficacy over distance, normalizes collaboration as a way of professional practice, and amplifies promising practices.

Individual Workflow – Personal Learning Environment or PLE

An effective network is composed of educators who work openly by default.  Their daily workflow (Personal Learning Environment or PLE)  includes personal learning that comes not only from traditional sources, like books and research articles, but also through efficient searching for educator blogs, tweets (microblogs), ebooks, audio books, webcasts, videos and exploring other online digital content that takes them into classrooms and into the minds of educators.  

Content is organized and shared back to the community in a format that will reach their audience (parents, teachers, ECEs, leaders, community).  They connect online with people in similar or different roles to have discussions, share strategies, consider ideas, connect thinking and stay in tune with what is happening in the world of the people they serve.  They bring in the experts they need to ensure student outcomes are improving.

And, as they learn, they document that learning in a way that is valuable to others, considering audience and format, privacy and purpose.  They share that learning back to their audience in a way that models digital citizenship and celebrates the work being done in their schools.

  1. Collecting Information – Leaders dedicate time for professional learning and develop competencies in effectively exploring and organizing relevant content, including blogs, podcasts, discussions, monographs and articles shared by others through social media.  They share these information and knowledge collecting strategies with peers, teachers, students and the community.  They understand how to access the information they need by leveraging the capabilities of the network.
  2. Connecting in Physical and Digital Spaces – Leaders value their connections to others and the learning that comes from conversations in person and online.  They continue to nurture and build connections, bringing value to their organizations and those they serve.  They model the importance of connectivism for students and other educators.
  3. Curating and Sharing Important Learning with Others – Leaders streamline the flow of information by filtering, packaging, and sharing in a way that mobilizes knowledge for targeted audiences. This is a complex skill that all of our students should also master. 
  4. Creating and Providing Value to the Network – Leaders contribute what they are learning and make their thinking visible to others. This involves documentation and sharing skills, modelling them openly for others in the organization.  Networks are only as valuable as the people in them and what they create and share with others.

Documenting Learning: Capturing the learning (and lack of learning)

  • Understanding a process/protocol for documentation (for example, Documenting for Learning)
  • Choosing an appropriate tool and product (text, blog, image, video, webcast, podcast, report, etc.)
  • Developing expertise in editing products (audio and video editing, website development)
  • Technical expertise
  • Reflecting (what to share, what audience, when?)
  • Modelling all of these for those you serve in the organization (students, educators)

Sharing the Learning (Openly as the Default)

  • Consider the privacy protection of those involved in your learning
  • Consider the intellectual property rights of any work you have used or remixed (develop a deep understanding of Creative Commons Licensing)
  • Consider the most effective and appropriate place to share based on desired audience (with open as default) – online open, online internal, conference, learning session. It is understanding the shifting differences and similarities among platforms, and where audiences reside at the moment.
  • Develop visual media, web and information literacies as well as global literacies
  • Amplify the practices that are making a difference.
  • Contribute in a positive way to the network, modelling this for others in the organization.
  • Where are other learning networks you can leverage?

This view of network leadership presents many entry points, and a shifting variety of digital literacies and skills needed for successful participation in networked learning.

Some of these skills are outlined here.

 

*Featured images by Giulia Forsythe CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

Resources:

Langwitches Blog: Digital Citizenship and Documenting Learning

Harvard Business Review: Are You Network Literate?

The Digital Skills we Must Teach our Children:  World Economic Forum, 2016

The Tipping Point to Transformation: David Culberhouse

 

Retweet or Share?

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook make sharing easy, much easier, in fact, than reading the full content or discovering the real source of the post.

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An algorithm, which you have no control over, determines what content reaches your eyes.

There is no human to complain to when that goes wrong.

Facebook makes money through likes and shares.  It wants you to be engaged and share what you see.  Critical thinking, truth, facts, none of these factor into the profit equation.

In what is now referred to the Post-truth era, it is disturbing to think about how much false content is circulated as fact.  Students struggle to determine the difference between truth and fiction.

As parents and educators, how are we modelling practices that promote facts and reliable sources over clickbait and sensationalism?

On social media, liking, sharing and retweeting  shows others the content that is meaningful to you.  It is a reflection of who you are, and what you believe in.

A decade ago, I used to retweet fairly indiscriminately.  If it looked like a good resource, I shared it.  Then, Ira Socol took the time to question my retweet.  I realized that retweeting is actually a form of curating.  If I want to create value online for others, I need to critically evaluate resources and ideas, and share them with descriptive comments.

What I choose to share reflects my professionalism.  What I choose to share is the value I am creating for others.  Before sharing, I carefully evaluate the source, and I often highlight (in my comments) the part I find most valuable.

Fortunately, I have a loud PLN that will quickly question almost anything I share openly.

Other curators help me sort through the unfathomable amount of information on the web.  Stephen Downes, Doug Belshaw, and Audrey Watters are examples of thought leaders who filter, curate and share information regularly.  I know that there will be value in their curations.

More importantly, what do we do when we encounter colleagues and friends sharing misleading information or sheer fiction as though it were factual? Do we just turn our heads the other way, or do we take the time, like Ira Socol did for me, and challenge the source or the thinking?

Barack Obama said that we can’t move democracy forward if we don’t have a common set of facts to refer to.  Now that we have seen the impact of the propaganda spread through social media, what will we do as educators to shut it down?

How do we ensure our students can critically evaluate information,  triangulate sources, and distinguish between belief and fact?

Featured Image by Wesley Fryer CC-BY-2.0

Open Education Leadership

Should education leaders work openly?

Is knowledge more rapidly mobilized through the system when leaders work openly?

For the purposes of my work, I am considering personal professional openness – the concept of sharing thinking and learning in open spaces, curating resources for others, engaging in open conversations in text or through broadcast technologies like podcasts, videos and YouTube Live, blogging and commenting on blogs, and participating across the educational boundaries in wider conversations across the web.

“Working open” means different things in different contexts.  Doug Belshaw has summarized the idea of working open in education here.

He provides this question, that is an excellent starting point for opening our work to others:

We should be continually asking the question, “can we make this public?” If that seems too radical, then a smaller step might be the question, “is there any reason why this shouldn’t be shared with everyone at the organisation?”

 

Here is a summary of what I learned this week.  The full story is below.

Working openly is a new skill, with unlimited potential for mobilizing knowledge within the education system.  We (as a system) don’t yet value it as a critical leadership skill for education.

“You are never going to be able to shortcut doing the hard work of changing hearts and mind, and the hook which gets people to realize that working openly is useful, is going to be different in every situation”. (Doug Belshaw)

When, as a  leader, you work openly, you allow others to “swim in the river you are swimming in”, not your river, but the one you are swimming in right now. (Dai Barnes)

Open practices are on a continuum, and are dependent on context. Developing digital literacies helps leaders understand what should be shared openly, but also what should be shared behind a password, and what should be private.

Senior Leaders need to be conscious of their position when blogging, but sharing their learning  minimizes the disconnect between leadership thinking and classroom practice.

Once Senior Leaders believe that open practice is worth pursuing, we need a scaffolded approach to help develop an understanding of digital literacies and support in developing that open practice.

Open practice by senior leaders encourages the participation of the entire learning community, and helps all stakeholders in public education find their voice.

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The full story:

Since beginning my work with #mathleadersNEO the Mathematics Leadership Network, I have been exploring this thinking – how open practice can impact the work of education leaders, particularly in influencing classroom practice and improving student learning.

Recently, I listened to the TIDE Podcast #61: Open to Suggestion, screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-10-59-12-pmwhich got me thinking again about the value in working openly as an education leaders.

 

 

I hoped that Doug Belshaw and Dai Barnes might explore it in more detail, so I posted this suggestion on their Slack Channel:

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I was so pleased to see that in TIDE Episode #70, the answer to this question was discussed, and some ideas completely new to me surfaced in the conversation.

I have posted the sections of the podcast to help provide focus for the thinking.  Please take a few minutes to listen to the sound clips that are much more explicit than my summaries below.

The Importance of Content – Choosing Words Carefully

 

Dai began by talking about the role of an education leader and how conscious a leader needs to be about that role and position, and the ‘weight’ of the words they might make public.

Understanding what can and should be shared openly is a digital literacy, and it takes time to build.  Experiencing the value of reaching an audience this way, and leveraging it to achieve organizational goals, also takes time to develop.

It is difficult to access education leaders.  When they make their thinking and learning visible through blogging and other social media interactions, everyone in the organization (and the community) has access to what they are learning.

Sharing Resources Openly (Instead of Through Email)

Instead of sharing resources with specific educators in email, leaders can share them in an open space (such as a blog or website) so that all educators, within the system and world wide, have access to those resources. It also allows others to then comment on how they use the resources in classroom practice, to add other similar resources to the list, and to have a conversation in the comments around the specific learning goals best supported through these resources.

 

What are the Barriers to Sharing Openly?

 

We have to understand what can (and should) be shared fully openly, what should be shared behind a password, and what should be private.  As well, we need to learn how to do that sharing so that nobody is personally or professionally impacted in a negative way.

For example, sharing a screencast on how to copy a Google Doc might be valuable to many educators.  What we wouldn’t say, is, “I know many educators in my school are struggling with this, so I have made this instructional screencast to help you”.

We might say instead, “Are you trying to copy a Google Doc? Here are some simple instructions to walk you through the process”.  This statement makes the learning open to all without any suggestion that the skill is one specific people find difficult.

It’s new learning.  It’s 2016 learning. And you don’t know what you don’t know. For so many educators, the way they have always done things has served them well and they don’t see the need for change in practice.

 

What New Leadership Qualities do we Value in 2016?

 

When, as a  leader, you work openly, you allow others to “swim in the river you are swimming in”, not your river, but the one you are swimming in right now.

Dai is playing with an important concept here, I think.

There are certain qualities and strengths of education leaders that we have traditionally valued, and we look for these.

But working openly is a new skill, with unlimited potential for mobilizing knowledge within the education system.  We don’t yet value it in the education system.

 

Open Practices: Changing Hearts and Minds

 

There is no such thing as open practice.  It is open practices (plural) because it is always within the context of where the learning is happening.

“You are never going to be able to shortcut doing the hard work of changing hearts and mind, and the hook which gets people to realize that working openly is useful, is going to be different in every situation”.

Who can you influence to practice more openly today?

What small steps can each leader take to work more openly?

 

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Here are some of the long term questions I am trying to answer:

How can Superintendents ensure that knowledge and understanding of high-yield instructional practices reaches the level of the student desk?

Does the exchange of ideas in open networks, across the boundaries of school districts, and even countries, more quickly impact change in classroom practice?

Can open leadership practices by system leaders enhance knowledge mobilization and improved classroom instruction, thereby increasing student learning and achievement?

Can technology help system leaders get new learning into classrooms?

 

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Please also see our work with Stephen Downes here.

The Importance of Working Open by Doug Belshaw

Featured image shared by ThinkPublic CC-BY-SA-2.0

Our Incredible Normal

We have the technology now to learn from the best teachers in the world.

We can access our PLN from almost anywhere, through synchronous and asynchronous technologies.

Today, our students need personalized learning options. Our teachers need to learn according to personal and professional interests.  Our leaders need to be able to consult with experts, and meet their own learning needs.  And all of this is simple with a strong Professional Learning Network, and access to digital tools.

In fact, for many educators, this is their normal.  It’s how they work in 2016.

Today I had the privilege to speak to educators at #depd in Ottawa (Discovery Education) as my PLN mate Paul Maguire was presenting and sharing how to connect with other educators through voxer.

Dean Shareski captured part of the conversation in this tweet:

I was thrilled to hear how clear it was, because up here on the north shore of Superior, I was in a torrential rainstorm during a power outage and I was using my car charger to keep my phone battery charged while hoping the cell coverage would remain intact!

But even with all of that, I was able to talk to the crowd gathered in Ottawa.

Incredible is our normal.

For many of us, it has been our normal for a decade or more.

Our creative, curious, bright children can access the best teachers in the world with our help.  Let’s make sure every one of them can.  Their access to the best instruction should not depend on geography or classroom teacher.

And let’s encourage all educators, including our leaders, to build extensive, rich professional learning networks where they share learning, cultivate relationships, build their understanding of digital environments and establish a positive online identity.

Our physical and digital worlds are now one.  Our learners need to be able to flow between them, and thrive in both.

 

Featured image by Donna Miller Fry: CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

The Pallisades.  Hwy 11 north of Nipigon, Ontario, at sunrise, late August, 2016.

The Digital Networked Lives of Our Children – #picsymposia2016

Today in Thunder Bay, close to 60 parents gave up their Saturday to learn about parent leadership in our education system.

The Ministry of Education sponsored event was an opportunity for parents to learn all about what is important in education and how to access funds to share knowledge in their boards.

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I was so impressed with the dedication to improving the education in the classrooms in their boards.  What rich discussion in the room!

 

Below are the slides I presented on the digital networked lives of children.  Please contact me if you have questions about the presentation.

Thank you to colleagues who shared work for this slide show:

Alec Couros

George Couros

Lisa Neale

Doug Belshaw

Aviva Dunsiger

Jamie Reaburn Weir

Tim Robinson

Canadian Education Association

Scott McLeod

Cathy Montreuil

Alan Levine

Stacey Wallwin

Karen Enders

Darla Myers

Steven Wilson

Tina Zita

Silvana Hoxha

Mark W. Carbone

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Don’t Think Differently (or do we?) – 7/10

Do we think differently, or have we just learned differently?

This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina!

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Silence.

You’ve felt that right?

You know, it happens when you say something like, “Why would we not just share that openly on a blog for everyone to see?” – and the room goes silent.

For those of us in the Lone Wolf Pack, this is our normal.

We are told that we “think differently”.

I’m not sure I buy that.  I am not sure that I believe we “think differently”. I wonder if we have just been through very different learning experiences.

We have been learning as networked, connected learners for years – decades in fact.  We have been learning in spaces yet to be discovered, yet to be respected, yet to be acknowledged by the status quo in our profession.

We have been learning different content.  We have been learning through ideas.

Ideas just pop into our network all the time.  Seeing and exploring new ideas daily, hourly, but the minute almost, is what we do.

We have had the time to share, converse, think through, research, challenge, ask about – to form thinking about – millions of ideas from around the world.

Then we throw out one of these ideas f2f,  and silence.

We are called names, like “rogue“.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 9.14.05 AMIt’s not so much that we might think differently, it’s that we learn differently.

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We learn through education 3.0, in a profession that is talking 2.0 while remaining firmly entrenched in 1.0.

 

 

And that’s the problem.

 

Shared by Dr. Jackie Gerstein under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 license https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/experiences-in-self-determined-learning-moving-from-education-1-0-through-education-2-0-towards-education-3-0/
Shared by Dr. Jackie Gerstein under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 license https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/experiences-in-self-determined-learning-moving-from-education-1-0-through-education-2-0-towards-education-3-0/

 

Featured Image: Shared by Dr.  Jackie Gerstein  under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 license

RESOURCES

Dear Lone Wolf by David Truss (@datruss)

 

We Feel Lost – by Will Richardson

35 Years Later – by Tina Zita

 

Katie Martin: 5 Reasons Professional Development is not Transforming Learning.

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http://katielmartin.com/2015/10/05/5-reasons-professional-development-is-not-transforming-learning/

Where’s the Beef? – 6/10

When we talk about “Visible Learning” and “Visible Thinking”, can we now focus more on the Thinking and Learning than on the Visible?

This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina!

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Recently, I was sharing some learning on Twitter with a colleague from the Early Years Division.  I did my homework, and decided to show her my favourite hashtag – #FDK (full day kindergarten).  This demonstration never fails to bring smiles to peoples’ faces, as it is filled with young children doing activities in kindergarten.

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But this time, my colleague said, “I see lots of activities.  What about learning, how do I find that?”

It made me think, once again, about that word value.

There is lots of “noise” on Twitter.  How do we help educators find the value through all the “noise”?

How do we ensure that we are not looking at flashy “busywork”, but that  we are engaging in online examples of visible student and educator  learning?

This book excerpt from Eric Sheninger caught my eye:

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Excerpted from the book, “UnCommon Learning: Creating Schools That Work for Kids,” by Eric Sheninger, published by Corwin, 2015. http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/01/14/how-to-determine-if-student-engagement-is-leading-to-learning/

Just because we see pictures of kids doing cool stuff in blogs and on Twitter, doesn’t mean learning is happening.

Last spring, Andy Hargreaves performed an experiment with the audience at #uLead15.  He showed portions of images to the audience, and asked whether the students appeared to be engaged or not.  The demonstration showed us that we need to question our understanding of the word “engagement”.

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The appearance of student engagement does not necessarily mean that learning is happening.

Seeing “engaged students” on social media prompts questions about whether we are looking at real engagement, and whether or not learning is actually occurring.

Shared by Bill Ferriter under a CC-BY-NC-2.0 license https://www.flickr.com/photos/plugusin/12188001525/
Shared by Bill Ferriter under a CC-BY-NC-2.0 license https://www.flickr.com/photos/plugusin/12188001525/

Perhaps when we are viewing “visible thinking”, we need to focus more on the thinking than the visible.

Not all that is visible on social media is learning.

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Featured image by Dean Shareski, shared under CC-BY-NC-2.0: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shareski/3537232931/

After writing this post, I noticed that George Couros is thinking along similar lines.

… and that David Truss is looking at learning here: How Do You Know When Students Are Learning?

Supporting Inquiry into TELT* – 4/10

This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina!

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How do we support teachers who are working on inquiries into what TELT* looks like, sounds like, feels like with their students?

*Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching

Today I was fortunate to have the opportunity to support TBCDSB Educators in their work to begin their TELT inquiry projects.

Our work together is embedded below.  Here is some of the fabulous work by educators that we shared as we work to build our PLNs.

Thanks to Cindy Carr, Paul Mackett and Anita Drossis for arranging such a wonderful learning opportunity.


Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano’s Slideshare on Building a PLN

Featured Image Quote: Wayne Gretzky, shared by Dennis Shirley, uLead 2015.

Building a Professional Learning Network (some resources) – 3/10

This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina!

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Who can help me answer my inquiry question?

Today I worked with my colleagues to support educators in establishing inquiry questions.

Part of our work has been finding the resources to  meet the individual needs of each educator.  The TBCDSB leadership team asked me to join the group to share the process of becoming a networked learner.

I spent the morning getting to know the needs of the learners in the room, and then created these resources tailored to their requests.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 2.23.03 PMI leveraged my own PLN to find the resources.

In learning that several of the educators were teacher-librarians, I asked my colleague, Mark Carbone, about where to find the work he has been doing with Carlo Fusco.

The video we shared can be found here: http://blog.markwcarbone.ca/2015/10/23/shifting-perspectives-on-libraries/

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My colleague, Cindy Carr, shared this video with the group.

This Will Revolutionize Education

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 2.23.31 PM The educator inquiries are around Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching.

We were able to share the work of several educators who have an open practice, and who invite others into their classrooms.

Connecting with other educators does have an impact on student learning.  We are working to demonstrate the value of connections.

The shared resources are in the slides embedded below.

Thanks to my PLN for your support today in helping me to support other educators.

From Anita Drossis:

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Your Friends Take Amazing Pictures! – 2/10

This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina!

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How do we model “network and remix” for our students?

I adore the images my friends post online! Just this morning, I woke up to this in my Flickr feed, contributed by my friend Alan Levine.

Image shared by Alan Levine @cogdog under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.
Image shared by Alan Levine @cogdog under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

So many of my colleagues generously share their work through a Creative Commons License.

Image shared by Darren Kuropatwa under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.
Image shared by Darren Kuropatwa under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

As a blogger and presenter, I want to share their beautiful work with the world.

I make it a priority to choose images created by people I learn with when I am creating a presentation or a new post on my blog.

How do I do this?

I have quickly screencasted the process below.

 

When our students are creating in online spaces, and we encourage them to use sites like Pexels or Pixabay for images that are free of copyright, we are taking a step in the right direction in helping students understand the importance of ownership of creative work.

But how are we enabling students to license and share their own work?  How are we showing students how to network with others who are also creating?  How are we enabling students to promote work they enjoy, and to use what others have made to create something new?

The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros: http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/5715
The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros: http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/5715

We promote networking and remixing by modelling it in our professional practice.

Your friends take amazing pictures.  Why not encourage them to license them, share them online and let you use them in your work?

And why not share a few of your own beautiful creations with the world while you are at it?

Image shared by Dean Shareski under a CC-BY-NC-2.0 License. Great socks!
Image shared by Dean Shareski under a CC-BY-NC-2.0 License. Great socks!

 

 

FEATURED IMAGE: Happy Birthday Danika!

Image shared by Andy Forgrave under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

 

Resources:

Are Teachers Taught About Creative Commons?

Stages of Being A Maker Learner – Dr. Jackie Gerstein

The Innovator’s Mindset – George Couros

The Innovator’s Mindset Book Club – OSSEMOOC

Alan Levine – For Barking and Wagging and being Top Dog 4ever! (love your work!)

Darren Kuropatwa – Forever Walking and Learning

Andy Forgrave – Forever dedicated to creativity and sharing!

 

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