As we celebrate the first anniversary of #etMOOC*, I am overwhelmed with the stories of growth and sharing and learning.
* For those who hear about how MOOCs are a trend, a fad, a failure or a passing phase, here is the kind of MOOC I am referring to:
#etMOOC connected people.
It wasn’t about content. It wasn’t about assignments. It was about experiencing the world of people out there who care about learners, who advocate for change, who take risks, who share their learning every single day.
It was about creating together, playing together, learning together.
I am fascinated by how the experience blurred our professional and personal lives.
We didn’t draw a line between the two.
We allowed, and continue to allow, our best traits, our life experiences, our travels and our learning to inform our time together, be it online or f2f.
We learn together whether we are “on the clock” or “on the road”.
We model what learning can be: self-directed, shared, always available. Supported, stretched, generous and courageous.
#etMOOC brought out the best in us. #etMOOC brings out the best in us.
Happy #etMOOC anniversary. Keep learning and sharing.
It’s a very good look at the need to communicate and respond in many ways to all the stakeholders in the school community.
I would add another item to the list: Blogging
Why should education administrators blog? For the same reasons we want teachers and students to blog.
#1: Make Learning Visible
Through blogging, educational administrators at all levels make their thinking visible to their team. Learning is shared and open. Conversations about learning become widely shared and asynchronous. Anyone can join in. Learning is enhanced for everyone who participates. Introverts who may feel uncomfortable having a conversation with an educational leader face to face, can carefully consider their comments and share them in a way that makes them comfortable.
#2: Encourage Others to Make Learning Visible
When administrators share their learning, they model the practice of making thinking visible, encouraging all members of the school community to do the same. They show that risk-taking is valued, that failing is a catalyst for learning, and that learning is important for everyone in the school environment.
#3: Share the Learning
How often do we hear that Principals are out of the building too often, and that Supervisory Officers are never in the school? Blogging allows administrators to share their learning with others. It is a built-in accountability that their time away is well spent and that the learning can be used to build capacity in the entire system. What personal professional learning are you currently engaged in? What books are you reading? Share your learning with your school community and your PLN. Model personal professional growth while encouraging your staff to do the same.
#4. Organize Your Thinking
A teacher who recently started blogging was preparing for a position of added responsibility this year, and she remarked at how easy it was to organize her thinking. It was already organized on her blog! Education Administrators who are called on to make presentations have easy access to the material they may need as they have already presented their thinking and learning in their blog.
#5. Connect With Other School Leaders
By following the blogs of school leaders around the world, you can engage in conversations and learn from their learning. Be a part of the Professional Learning Network that believes in sharing, in challenging thinking, and in making thinking visible to all.
Sharing can be hard, though. We need courage to share. Depending on the context, it can be hard work. I am often asked to present to groups. This is not my strength, and it involves lots of preparation time, but I push myself to do it because I usually benefit from it far more than my audience. It is a way to collect, organize, and synthesize thinking, something I rarely do unless pushed.
Last Friday, I pushed a grade 9 student at my school to be courageous and share on the radio the part she played in our lip-dub video project with our student teacher and Dean Shareski. She did a beautiful job, but it was scary, and I applaud her courage for consenting to speak to CBC Radio.
Last week a teacher colleague pushed the boundaries and shared professional learning on Twitter. It was courageous, because we are not all fortunate enough to be working in environments that support the idea of open learning.
There is still much stereotyping about “cell phone use” during professional development. “Cell phones” are not there as a distraction, but as a tool for learning. Other educators benefit from our sharing. Learning networks are critical, especially in isolated locations like ours. Sharing pushes our thinking and helps us to learn better ways to teach our students.
When I see courageous people sharing, I wonder what it would take to get others to share.
Dean Shareski shared this video today. It reminds us that we all have something to share with someone. A teacher from my school attended a session at a conference today, and shared that she could have led that session herself. Yes she could! And next year maybe she will!
Two weeks ago, I presented some sessions at #OTRK12. Initially, I had hoped to present on the concept of the TPA (Teacher Performance Appraisal) for online teachers. I was one of the first teachers in Ontario to have a TPA while teaching online (1998), but someone else had asked to present that topic so I decided to just sit in to learn.
The presenter was a teacher who had looked at this topic for his PQP Practicum. He presented a beautiful list of look-fors and we had a discussion about some of the interesting twists this mode of instruction presented to the TPA process. He had never actually completed an online TPA, but it was presented very well. But right in that very room, listening with intent, was a principal of an online public high school who has conducted more online TPAs than anyone else in Ontario – and he shared nothing. Imagine how rich the discussion could have been if he had shared his knowledge and experience.
As I sit here in a massive spring snowstorm putting the final touches on another application to share (ECOO 2013) a journey with others, I am thankful for the many opportunities I have had to share with so many open learners.
This week, one of the conspirators of #etMOOC, Alan Levine (a.k.a. @cogdog), emailed me with a challenge – to submit a video of a time when being open and sharing online resulted in something special happening.
What could be more special than lunch with cogdog himself?
Update: More about Alan Levine right here (from Dean Shareski):
Here’s the story (told while snowshoeing with my beagle north of Lake Superior).
I have been encouraging educators I work with to engage in the #etMOOC experience (“encouraged” may be perceived by some as an understatement). You already know how I feel about this perfect/open/free opportunity to learn and connect.
Yet throughout the last three months of “talking up #etMOOC”, I thought only about how much my colleagues were going to learn about educational technology. I had not expected to learn so much about learning – on the first day!
On day 1, Jenni Scott-Marciski wrote her first blog post ever. She shared her experiences in joining Twitter, her hesitations about blogging, and here very personal thinking about connecting.
Even though I see Jenni every day, this was all new to me. Yes, I knew she was using Twitter to learn and connect, and yes, I knew she had started #etMOOC, but I was astonished at how much better I understand her learning now with just one posting.
She was making her thinking and learning visible, and it helped me to understand where we need to go next.
I had a similar experience with my #etmooc introduction. I have been trying to use iMovie for months now, sneaking in to watch and learn from students as they create videos in their classrooms, asking for help from friends. But the process of making and posting a video made my learning visible to others, and as a result I have received direct instruction on what to fix and how as I move forward in my learning.
I would not have posted that video if it was for “marks” or if it was for an evaluation. I would have kept my learning private. But the understanding that I am in a safe and supportive learning environment made me feel encouraged to share and learn.
And what does this tell us about student learning?
For some time now, I have known that there is a big hole in my knowledge about educational technology. I have absolutely no experience in working with video.
I was thrilled to see that the first assignment for #etMOOC was to make a video. I don’t have a lot of time to spend on this, so this afternoon, @colleenkr came into my office and showed me one thing – that’s all we had time for – but one thing is something.
So tonight, in a stretch of 30 spare minutes I managed to find, I made a video.
It’s awful. Honestly. But I don’t care. I learned so much in that 30 minutes!
Besides, by posting it here for all to see, I can only improve. We can all laugh at this by the end of #etMOOC.
By the way, kudos to my friend @cogdog for his intro video. Of all people, he could have made his spectacular. But we are all here to learn, and his one shot intro made me feel like it was safe to learn in this space. We are not competing. This is not for marks. It’s to make learning visible, and then share it.
Here is my learning for tonight:
This is one reason why making your learning visible is so important!
A 30 second pass in the hallway this morning, and @colleenkr has already taught me to take my iphone videos sideways to fit better on the screen, and later today I am going to learn how to make the volume the same all the way through the video. Can’t wait!