TOP 10 – #6: Advantages of Becoming Networked

•November 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

TOP 10 COUNTDOWN – Summary of ECI831 Learnings

It is with this post, I continue my TOP 10 Countdown as a summary of learnings in our ECI831 class.  This Top 10 inspired the creation of my “Future of education?” video for our final reflection project.  And the countdown continues…

AT #6:  Advantages of Becoming Networked



 (I appreciated the sharing of this original work and of the various ‘remixes’ it inspired)

Zoe Brannigan-Pipe spoke to us about the life of a networked teacher.   She challenged us to think about our networks both face-to-face and those made possible through technology.  Tech tools such as Ning, Flickr, Twitter, Elluminate, Skype, Text, Email, Virtual Environments, Second Life, Wikispaces, Blogs, YouTube, VoiceThread, GoogleDocs, RSS Feeds, etc. expand our traditional networks.  There are so many tools available that it can be overwhelming. 

Important to Zoe is the ability, as a teacher to help students “…to think critically, to engage in discussion, to see the potential of the Internet as a hub for collaboration, and to provide a platform for them to develop their own learning communities that are authentic, safe and supportive.”  (Zoe Brannigan-Pipe, Blogging-for-real-reform, 2010) 

Zoe was a stellar example of a teacher who has incorporated technology into the classroom in very practical ways to help her students expand their boundaries and explore concepts in authentic and meaningful ways.  Her thoughts and practical classroom ideas are great for reflection purposes.  Our evening session with her got me thinking about myself as an educator.  I certainly have many ‘traditional’ tendancies, but I am beginning to see a need to venture beyond the walls of a traditional classroom and appreciate that, in the right circumstances, technology can support this notion.  I have much growing and learning to do around this concept and plan to take things one step at a time.  I must experiment with tech tools myself, explore them with others, and determine how they might fit within my life and work.

This is new territory for me, and I find myself sharing the thoughts included in a blogpost by fellow classmate, Mike Weisgarber, who mentions, “it has become very clear that you can’t dabble in online learning environments.  It feels like I need to be online and in our professional learning environment everyday or I am out of the loop.”  It does seem as though if you aren’t actively participating in online environments on a regular basis, it is difficult to keep up.  I think my strategy will be to set aside some time on an ongoing basis to work at it.  Like anything else, a little big of effort goes a long way.  I look forward to the continued learning ahead and hope to stay connected with a number of classmates long after our class has ended.


TOP 10 – #7: Need for broad definition of “Literacy” in preparing students for the 21st Century

•November 29, 2010 • 1 Comment

 TOP 10 COUNTDOWN – Summary of ECI831 Learnings

It is with this post, I continue my TOP 10 Countdown as a summary of learnings in our ECI831 class.  This Top 10 inspired the creation of my “Future of education?” video for our final reflection project.  And the countdown continues…

AT #7:  Need for a broad definition of “Literacy” in preparing students for the 21st Century
In relation to curriculum, instruction, and assessment, it is necessary to rethink traditional practices and consider the skills necessary for 21st century learners especially in relation to the concept of “literacy”.  In Saskatchewan, our new curriculum documents are focussing on the importance of inclusion of multiple literacies involving a “continuum of interrelated skills, strategies, and knowledge that contribute to the development of an individual’s ability to pariticipate in a variety of roles and situations – in the school, home, and community.  Multiple literacies provide a variety of ways, including the use of language and technology, to interpret the world and express understanding of it through words, numbers, images, sounds, movements, or other representations.”  (Career Education 9, 2008)

In our ECI831 class readings, we were introduced to the NCTE Framework for 21st Century Curriclum and Assessment which highlights litereacies necessary for the 21st century in relation to English Language Arts.  It extends traditional thinking about the concept of literacy and expands it to include such competencies as the ability to:

  • Develop proficiency with the tools of tehnology
  • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes.
  • Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information.
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts.
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments.

The document suggests teachers need to reflect on traditional teaching and assessment practices as well as on possible new forms of each in order to address the shift in the concept of literacy skills.  To me, this is food for thought for us as educators, particularly in the province of Saskatchewan as we are beginning to embrace a new understanding of “literacy”.

TOP 10 – #8: Time for Change

•November 29, 2010 • 1 Comment
TOP 10 COUNTDOWN – Summary of ECI831 Learnings

It is with this post, I continue my TOP 10 Countdown as a summary of learnings in our ECI831 class.  This Top 10 inspired the creation of my “Future of education?” video for our final reflection project.  And the countdown continues…

AT #8:  Time for Change



Traditional forms of education served their purpose in the past, but now is the time for change.  Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach spoke to us about the importance of change in relation to education and technology.  In one of her articles she speaks to this need by stating,

“The speedy evolution of technology over the past 30 years has often outpaced our ability to use it to transform teaching and learning in real and meaningful ways.  Much of that time we just tried to keep up, with new technologies often simply bolted onto traditional curriculum practices.  However, today, with three decades of digital experience under our belt, the time is ripe to begin instituting true change.”  (Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, No Limits, 2008)   

Nussbaum-Beach also speaks profoundly about the fear of change…

“I used to say, “Change takes time.” I don’t say that anymore. Look around you. Change is happening at exponential rates. The challenge for educators is to adapt to the rapid pace of change—indeed, to become leaders of change—before we as an institution find ourselves irrelevant in the lives of the students we seek to help….We have to awaken ourselves collaboratively, and the Web is just the tool we need to do it.”  (Sheryl Nussbaum Beach, Creating Learning Organizations, 2009)

Reading Sheryl’s blog posts has been an incredible learning experience for me.  The quality of thought she contributes to her posts on the 21st Century Collaborative Blog challenges my thinking.  I look forward to continuing to follow her even after this course comes to a close.  Time and change have always been two common challenges in the area of education.  That being said, if we take a positive outlook towards both and consider how technology might be used to overcome these challenges, we may be on to something.  The everchanging future awaits, and time is ticking…

TOP 10 – #9: Educational Shifts and The Importance of Trust in Learning Communities

•November 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

TOP 10 COUNTDOWN – Summary of ECI831 Learnings

It is with this post, I continue my TOP 10 Countdown as a summary of learnings in our ECI831 class.  This Top 10 inspired the creation of my “Future of education?” video for our final reflection project.  And the countdown continues…

AT #9:  Educational Shifts & The Importance of Trust in Learning Communities

There is a shift taking place in terms of educational technology.  This shift involves moving away from standard drill-and-practice to more open and social connections.  Although objectivism still exists as does cognitivism and constructivism; there appears to be a movement towards connectivism in education.  (Flosse Posse, 2005)  

Just as there is a shift taking place in terms of educational technology, I am beginning to reflect on my own practices and am experiencing a shift in thinking.  In relation to technology, I believe there are many valuable tools which can enhance learning within the context of both constructivist and connectivist learning theories.  New technologies open up a world of possibilities to educators and students in adding depth to content. There is an opportunity to construct knowledge using the various technologies and to make learning authentic. For example, technologies such as Blogs, Wikis, Twitter, and other networking tools allow learners to reflect on learnings, share information, dialogue, and exchange information which can enable deep understanding. (Constructivist and also Connectivist).  That being said, I am still finding my ‘fit’ in all of this as an educator.  I am beginning to see myself as less of a traditional educator, and more of a coach, facilitator, or guide.  I no longer feel I have to be the ‘expert’ at everything.  However, what I do have to be is an individual who can help others develop essential questions and find ways to investigate their answers.     

In relation to virtual learning communities, I will leave this course richer for the experience but still finding ways to navigate my own learning communities and connect to my personal and professional practices.  Engaging in conversation this way stretched my comfort zone.  However, I was very encouraged after Rick Schwier’s presentation in which he talked about the importance of finding one’s comfort zone, level of participation, and importance of trust in online learning communities.  Rick stated, 

“…people need to feel comfortable to participate, and unless the invitation to participate is explicit, and the boundaries of acceptable behaviour are shared and understood, people will not be as likely to take risks in their communication with other members of the community…In any community, and noticeably in virtual learning communities, relatively few members conduct most communication.  Quite a number of people “lurk” on the fringes of conversations.”  (Schwier, R.A., 2009)  He goes on to say that, ““Trust appears to be the most significant single prerequisite factor in enabling vibrant communities to emerge.  At least, without trust there is very little likelihood that an authentic community will happen.  If participants share high levels of trust, they are more likely to engage deeply and take learning risks.”  (Schwier, R. A., 2009)

Much of what Rick presented in our evening session resonated with me.  Being that I am relatively new to virtual learning communities, I still have a tendancy to “lurk” as, even in face-to-face meetings, it takes me a while to figure everyone out and determine my ability to contribute.  The fact he made it clear that “lurking” is a normal process of becoming familiar with an online environment put me at ease.  By the end of our course, I found it easier to contribute via the backchannel chats, commenting on blogs, communicating with others via email, Twitter, etc. as I felt a sense of professionalism and trust and became more willing to take risks.  I did not always agree with the viewpoints of my classmates nor them with mine, however the sense of trust made it possible to share, dialogue, and grow.  I came across a ‘retweet’ on Twitter by Rick Schwier that sums of the value of differing opinions:  

RT @RickWarren: Reading only authors u agree with will weaken your mind, harden your biases, reinforce prejudices & limit your growth

There is much value in differing opinions as it forces us to reflect further on our own thoughts – sometimes requiring a shift in thinking, sometimes reinforcing our own beliefs.  Regardless, the challenge leads to deeper levels of thinking, learning, and professional growth.   


Schwier, R.A. (2009).  Pursing the elusive metaphor of community in virtual learning environments.  Proceedings of EDMEDIA 2009, Association for the Advancement of Computers in Education, Honolulu, Hawaii

TOP 10 – #10: Power of Social Networking Tools

•November 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

TOP 10 COUNTDOWN – Summary of ECI831 Learnings

It is with this post, I begin my TOP 10 Countdown as a summary of learnings in our ECI831 class.  This Top 10 inspired the creation of my “Future of education?” video for our final reflection project.  And the countdown begins…

AT NUMBER 10:  Power of Social Networking Tools


Through our ECI831 weekly sychronous sessions and communications via various mediums such as email, blogs, wikis, Twitter, etc, I have come to witness the power of social networking tools.  The use of these tools can allow for unique communities to form allowing people to collaborate and communicate in new and interesting ways.  In reflecting on our course, I feel this happened throught the demonstration, modelling, experimentation, collaboration, and sharing that took place as our course progressed.

The fact that Dr. Couros was able to lead synchronous sessions from locations such as Shanghai, China and and cities in Ontario and Alberta, etc. was representative of the use of technology in making professional development and learning possible from anywhere at anytime.  We were joined by guest presenters from various parts of Canada and the US who engaged us in interactive discussions and I was fortunate to benefit from the viewpoints of classmates with various backgrounds and experiences.  It was particularly interesting to hear perspectives from classmates located in various geographic regions including California, Egypt, and Nunavut.  I found this whole concept of being able to connect with other educators from around the globe quite amazing.  I get very excited telling others about this experience as it is something that, until recently, I never imagined possible.  This course has allowed me to experience, first-hand, the concept of global connectedness. 

I appreciated the course content and structure.  In particular, I enjoyed delving further into the “Content that might be relevant to this week’s presentation” and “Media to get you thinking” sections.  These sections included links to various TedTalks, YouTube videos, printed resources, creations by teachers and students, etc.  Investigating these links provided me with additional background and context around our weekly discussions.  Adding to my experience, I spent some time ‘playing’ with web tools such as Google Reader, Delicious, Glogster, Twitter, Tweet Deck, etc.  All of these investigations expanded my knowledge-base and pushed my boundaries in terms of comfort and stage of readiness.  It was wonderful to be able to tap into such a wealth of ideas, information, and experiences from the comfort of my own home.

As much as I think web 2.0 tools are cool, I pause to reflect regularly on what Danah Boyd had to say about educators, students, and social media…

“Educators have a critical role when it comes to helping youth navigate social media. You can help them understand how to make sense of what they’re seeing. We can call this “media literacy” or “digital literacy” or simply learning to live in a modern society. Youth need to know more than just how to use the tools – they need to understand the structures around them.”    (Dana Boyd, 2009,

How do we do this?

“We start by opening up a dialogue. We start talking to youth about what they are doing and why they are doing it. We ask them to teach us about the technology while we guide them with the knowledge that we have through experience. We start co-operating and engaging with the shifting nature of everyday life…At the end of the day, the biggest disruption brought on by technology has nothing to do with the youth themselves, but with the way in which it forces us to reconsider our position of power as adults. We cannot simply tell it like it is; we need to re-learn how to learn and how to evolve with the changes all around us.”   (Dana Boyd, 2009,

Are you a leader or a follower? cont…

•November 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I saw this video on Canada AM today and it reminded me of my “Are you a leader or a follower?” post in some ways.  This scenario is certainly orchestrated, but it is interesting to watch the reactions of the mall shoppers as the event plays out.  Some join in, some stay on the sidelines…

Enjoy the festive season.

Are you a leader or follower?

•November 21, 2010 • 2 Comments

It takes guts to be both a leader and one of the first followers.  Both roles are very important in creating a movement.  See what you think… 

This video from YouTube makes me pause to think about leaders and early followers in the area of technology, social media, and open education. 

Feel free to expand on your vote or your personal thoughts on leaders and followers in the comment section.  Are you a risk taker?  Are you one who would rather remain part of the original crowd as a onlooker?  Do you see a role for leaders and followers in creating change?