Why would we want to exclude other educators from our professional learning network?
Stephen Katz, in his book Intentional Interruptions, discusses the problem of confirmation bias when it comes to professional learning. It is our tendency to “only look for things that confirm rather than challenge our beliefs and practices“.
We need to make sure that we are not looking for our professional learning in echo chambers. We need to find the people who will challenge our thinking.
When we hear, “Let’s build an online community so we can share our learning”, it sounds like a fantastic idea. It is a fantastic idea.
But when designing how that community will work, ask who you want to exclude, because as soon as you put your sharing behind a password protected site, you are excluding other thinkers who might contribute to your conversation and challenge your thinking – exactly what professional learning needs to include.
It is easy to share your learning and thinking openly.
Consider, for example, the Inquiry-Based Learning Project in Ontario, and their conversations on Twitter under the #ontsshg hashtag.
They have discussions, vote on topics, document their learning on a blog, and keep it in the open for anyone else to join in the conversation, make comments, search, read, and remix.
While the conversations focus on Ontario topics, anyone is welcome to join, to share, to learn.
Similarly, Lakehead Public Schools chose to share their collaborative inquiry work with the world on an open blog rather than excluding readers who might learn from their work.
Before choosing to participate in an online community that excludes learners, think about what you are able to share openly with other educators.
There is a need for protected spaces to share private information about student learning, but if your purpose is to share your own professional learning and to grow as an educator, why would you exclude others from the conversation?
Why not make your thinking and learning visible to all, and model that learning for our students?
Related: Just Make It Public! by Mark W. Carbone: http://blog.markwcarbone.ca/2014/08/05/just-make-it-public/