# Learning is Change

Home Posts tagged "online"

## Question 187 of 365: What is our equation?

Image via Wikipedia

I used to believe that everything equaled out in the end. That at some point, everyone would get the same amount of opportunity or talent. I used to think that we were all special in enough ways to allow for everyone to have the same chance of success. I don’t believe that anymore.

I once was talking to a very good friend about our test scores over the phone. He told me about how good his math scores were. I saw that they were better than mine, and in my need to make everything even out, I proclaimed that I had very good english scores. As it turned out, I did have good scores. He just had better ones. In both English (which I cared a great deal about) and in Math (which I didn’t care all that much about) he was better. I couldn’t reconcile this disparity. I kept on looking for a silver lining, a way in which his life overall was worse than mine or that I could feel superior so that this defeat would hurt less. I still haven’t found a way to make those kinds of stings any less potent.

Instead, I now believe that instead of an equation with an a person on either side of the equal sign, it is most likely a greater than or less than sign. This is a crude judgement, but it is in fact a much more accurate representation of the way in which we experience all people. Somewhere within our heads, we do an estimation of greater than or less than. We look for links from one person or idea to another, but we are not looking for them to be the same. We are looking for ways to categorize, to prioritize and to put them into a hierarchy. We can’t help but be a part of this lopsided equation every moment.

And yet, it is hard to tell which side of the equation we are on at times or what is really being compared. I may be really good at getting my ideas across, but utterly fail in having revolutionary ideas in the first place. These things are not equal. One is greater than the other, but it depends on who is setting up the equation.

The point is:

The greater than or less than equation is a little agreement within ourselves to treat some things and people with more respect and attention than others. And in the interest of creating a more collaborative and sharing society, I believe we owe it to one another to state our equations as loudly as we possibly can. If all bias can be boiled down to an equation with a little arrow pointing one way or the other, we can actually identify what it is that moves us and what it is that we need help with. With that in mind, here are a few equations that I believe to be true.

My children > other people’s children

Open Source > Closed Source

Community > Isolation

Publishing > Notebooks

Notebooks > Not writing/drawing/reflecting

Independent > Corporate

Corporate > Undervalued

Revision > Final Draft

Trust > Suspicion

Change > Success

Failure >= Success

Music >= Silence

Stress > Pressure

Lo-Fi > Hi-Def

Family > Career

There are lots more, but I do wonder what would happen if we all laid out our equations on the table and started talking about them. Would any of us change the directions of the arrows? Would we be able to generate our list of the most important things in our lives, our priorities of a lifetime rather than just of the moment. I feel as though that might be important.

## #hr10tech Presentation: Ready or Not- The Future of Networks and Community

Published on May 14, 2010, by in Uncategorized.

## Question 50 of 365: How do we know when we are safe?

Safety is something that we can feel. We know when it is present and when it isn’t. We can feel when others feel safe too. Those around us share their safety. We project it when we talk with one another and we receive it as we hear words of vulnerability and need. In those moments of held emotion, when we know that we are with people who love us, we can’t help but feel safe. We can’t help but be ourselves and consistently reveal more about our understanding of the world. We are hopelessly fulfilled when we feel safe. We risk, and we find hope. We wrestle with big ideas and we don’t feel self-conscious about believing in one another.

Yet, how is this replicated online? How is it that we can ever be this vulnerable and courageous online? How will we look one another in the eye and know that our shared identity actually meshes and means something?

The reciprocity of emotion in an online space is hard to measure, yet it isn’t something that can be overlooked. We must come together in a place that makes us believe it is an extension of us. If we believe that we are a part of the space, we will work to make it safe. Our shared stories within the space will create a type of comfort that breeds progressively more personal stories, more reasons to engage.

This safe place is one that I would like to create. I would like to be a part of generating the energy within an environment that allows for people to be themselves. I would like to spark people to create this space on their own as well. We will know when we find it. We will know because it will be ours. It will be the thing that we all gravitate towards because it will be the one place that we don’t have to play any games, be sarcastic or complain about what we can’t do.

If we all see that it is possible, if we all know what we are looking for, let us pursue safety and uncertainty and passionate connection with one another. Just as I believe it matters to have these spaces in the physical world, I believe that it is just as valuable to create them within the “other” space that we all inhabit, the one that will increasingly influence our lives and livelihoods.

## Design with Forever in Mind: KCTechNet edition

Here is the slide deck for my presentation on Design with forever in Mind:

Watch it live, here:
Live TV : Ustream

And here is the chat:

And here is the social stream:

## Response to Paul (on PD must be better)

This post is in response to a comment on my last post which went something like this:

As I read your list I went back and forth agreeing with you.

Do you ever question if it is not how we do PD but the audience that we have hired and put into the “seats?”

Do you think we could stop “doing PD” if we simply hired a different caliber of professionals?

Do you worry that we have to “give(!!!) context, meaning and perspective” to teachers?

Here is my response:

I do think that it has to do with who we are talking to and what messages they will accept. However, I really do believe that if given enough reason to change, everyone will. I believe in the power of people to see something great and to become a part of it.

I also think that we could stop “doing PD” once people start thinking about networks as PD, but I still think we need to give people time away from their classroom responsibilities to actually create that network and to do their learning. We are passionate about learning what is “new”, but not everyone is. Others have to be given the time to do so, even if they are able to be a networked learner. They need to have the space to network.

All learners need to be given a space that has context, meaning and perspective. While I may create a lot of the context for what I do, I live it every day. I cannot expect people who do not blog to understand the context of blogging. I cannot expect people who do not use twitter to understand the context and meaning of a twitter conversation. And, I cannot expect people who do not use wikis and revision history to create a perspective to gain that perspective by doing anything other than actually using wikis and looking at revision histories.

When I say give, I believe that I am giving an experience. The experience is what matters to me. It is what will allow them to start creating context, meaning and perspective. Nothing else will do this and expecting them to create that experience on their own is just a little to harsh for me.

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## Communal living

Published on May 10, 2009, by in Uncategorized.

I never realized just how important community was to me until my wife
and I asked our best family friends to come and live with us while
they are saving up to buy a house.

For many years I have written about online communities as being an
essential part of authentic learning. Yet, I have never lived in such
close quarters to another family, and thus did not know how much is
learning by being a part of a close-knit real-life community.

Daily I learn what actions by my children and theirs “really mean”. I
now know why personal space has so much value. I know what to expect
from our community and what my community expects of me.

The reason for this post is that it has gotten me thinking about our
need for a nurtured real-life community that supports everything we
attempt to change in education. While I would like to think that the
twittersphere is all that I need for support and community, I need the
people that I can look straight in the eye and brainstorm the greatest
learning activity with.

I guess I will just state this idea as a challenge to myself: if I am
not cultivating my real community as hard as I am doing so for my
online community, I will never be able to accomplish all of the things
I would like.

Or, to put it another way:

The number of people you can touch with your work depends upon how you
work with the people you can literally touch. (Although, that sounds a
little creepier than I wanted.)

## New Responsibility

I was thinking about waiting until I got a little further into the
project to start blogging about it, but since I made the choice to
start blogging daily, I have really found that this forum let’s me
think through all of the things that I need to.

So the new responsibility is this: I have been put in charge of
administrating multiple moodle installations in our district. The
reason why this new charge I have been given is so strange to me is
that up until 2 months ago, the only “official” moodle installation in
our district was at a high school in parker, which I had little to do
with.

The reason for the shift is nothing short of an economic and
pedagogical perfect storm. Our district had slowly been building the
capacity for more and more teachers to start asking for a way of
teaching and engaging with their students online, and with the failure
of our bond election, the only choice for an LMS was to have someone
who was already working in open source to implement and support a
solution like moodle.

The best part is, however, that no one I have talked to thinks that we
are settling for something. From all of the initial conversations, all
stakeholders believe that professional development, online learning,
and blended learning fit well within a vision of moodle that includes
outside assessments and google apps for communication.

I guess the only reason for this post is to ask for advice. If you
were asked to design and implement learning environments for an online
school, a professional development program, and a blended model
(online and in centers/schools) using moodle, what would you make sure
to do (or not do)?

While I have a definite vision for the way forward, I am not the
smartest person in the room (considering that I have no idea how big
this room is). I want to know more… Always more.

## 15 questions…

I was given the task recently of coming up with 15 questions to ask a
information technology director candidate during an interview. While I
missed the window during which this information would have been useful
to the person who solicited my help (moving is really hard), I would
like to provide it here. It may not be useful as a list in itself, but
I had a lot of fun coming up with it, and it may lead to more good
thinking if I ever care to answer these questions.

1. What do you see as the purpose of technology in education?
2. What is the one change that you would make to our institution that
would help students to learn in a more connected way?
3. What do you believe is the purpose for acceptable use policies?
What is your ideal AUP?
4. What should professional development look like?
5. Who is in your personal learning network?
6. What does your learning workflow look like, or how do you learn?
7. How should our institution archive, tag, and share information and
learning objects?
8. How do you plan on bringing all stakeholders to the table to make
technological decisions?
9. What role should open source software play in our institution?
10. What is your vision for mobile devices accessing our institution?
11. What does online learning mean to you?
12. What kind of technology infrastructure is essential in our institution?
13. How will you connect our institution to others in the state,
country and world?
14. How will you let our students take their learning identity with
them after they graduate?
15. What will we find if we google you?

Anyone think of any others?

Anyone want to answer these ones?

## Too busy to work on workflow

The other day I was working with the principal of our online school on
creating a workflow for contacts, email, and calendar that would allow
her to add, read, and create from anywhere, meaning more productivity
for her.

I am pretty convinced that we need to be addicted to creating a better
workflow for ourselves, but that is a longer blog post. The reason for
this one was that Chris Lehman left a comment on my last post
expressing that he had a similar idea of people who were just too
busy. His post is right here:

And here is my comment on it:
http://practicaltheory.org/serendipity/index.php?url=archives/361-Hardest-Working-Teacher-Syndrome.html

I recognize that this happens everywhere. I love that you have a
better name for it, though. (The hardest working teacher in the
building syndrome)

I know that you were talking about teachers when you wrote it, but I
really think that admin and IT need this post quite a bit.

The lack of help, support, and sharing that goes on because we are too
busy is truly troubling. Taking time to recognize that busy (or hard
working) is no excuse for not sharing what you are working on or
taking time to see what others are working on.

I think recognizing that an addiction to finding a workflow that
actually works is not optional anymore. If a teacher or admin is “too
busy”, their workflow is probably out of whack. That doesn’t get
talked about enough in our conversations. We just assume that others
aren’t duplicating efforts all over the place because we don’t.

If everything (our learning) is connected, nothing is out of place,
meaning that we don’t have to add more, we just make it flow better.

## What is it now?

There is a syndrome that I see from many of the people that I work
with, and at many times, it I can be guilty as well. It happens when
someone asks a question or has a request of you. They have a simple
thought that they would like to discuss with you, but instead of
answering, you put it off or say that you don’t have time for their
tangent. You talk about all of the other things that you have to do
and you just don’t have time for their little project.

While this may be strictly true, you are shutting any opportunity to
with the tools that are required for the request.

I know this sounds that I am advocating for dropping everything you
are working on to fix other’s problems, and I guess I kind of am.

If we have programs in schools that are called drop everything and
read for kids, I think we may as well have programs in schools called
drop everything and help for adults. I believe that if the culture
within a school or online space is based upon helping others to be
better or to know more, it is the only way to truly institutionalize
life-long learning.

When I shut people and their unique requests for help out (or put them
off indefinitely) I find that I stagnate. It take some going out to
help someone else in order to truly lean something new about what I
need to work upon.

I guess that I learn more and more that all learning is connected.
Even if I am not researching online schools when I am helping someone
to forward their email, it doesn’t mean that it won’t eventually end
up helping in the long run.

I guess all of the things in my brain really do have a long tail, and
it isn’t until it wraps around something important that I notice.