Seek, make-sense and share (then repeat)

As I’ve attempted to keep up with mass of information flowing through ETMOOC this week, my mind has turned to reflecting on the work of Harold Jarche and his writings on personal knowledge management (PKM). (I discovered his work years ago as he occasionally skewers the public education system here in New Brunswick, but that would be a whole other post).

He’s written again today on the topic and his graphics illustrate a model we can all use as we try to pull together the bits and pieces in ETMOOC.

Of particular importance to me will be the presentation aspect … for me blogging … pulling together all of my ideas and making them understandable to others, especially people not immersed in the language of edtech and learning.  Customization will also be key … finding the stories that will resonate here in New Brunswick.

I encourage you to read Harold’s work – it will be a framework to get me through the challenge of MOOCing.

“seek, make sense, share (then repeat)”

Death of Education, Dawn of Learning

The K12 Online Conference has begun with a pre-conference presentation by Stephen Heppell. This intimate presentation is summed up with the idea that we are seeing the “death of education and the dawn of learning”. A thoughful beginning to this year’s conference.

My take away thoughts are that we must continue to be as optimistic as Stephen Heppell and believe that these are indeed exciting days to be involved in public education.  The opportunities for education as community, as mutuality, as democracy are here – it is up to “us” to embrace the tools, we cannot wait for “them” to find us.

While the K12 Online Conference is mainly aimed at educators, parents might be interested in taking in Lorna Costantini and Matt Montagne’s presentation, scheduled for October 31. There are 40 presentations to access over the next 2 weeks – there is sure to be something for everyone.

Assignment: Reflections on CCK08

Sometime during the lazy days of summer I decided it was a good idea to enrol in an online course titled “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge” that was being discussed in the edtech community.  I knew when I signed up that the course would go far beyond my current intellectual curiosity, but as it was billed as something you could do as much or as little of as you wanted, and it would be a way to increase my use of some online tools, I decided to jump in anyway.

One of the first tasks was to introduce ourselves in the moodle forum. I wrote the following about my goals for the course:

I will consider myself successful if I gain the knowledge and confidence to express to those I have the ability to influence why technology is important to all of us involved in education – students, teachers, parents and administrators. I will consider this course successful if it empowers the participants through our connections, collaboration and creativity. 

Post to moodle – easy. Contribute to the google map of participants – also easy (although someone moved my pin from Hanwell to Minto…?…hmmm).  I read most of the pre-course material and felt prepared going into week 1. And then – Monday morning – OMG.  Rather than get right into the readings I decided to read some of the participant bios and discussions to try to find some people like me to connect with (a major component of a course on Connectivism is making some connections).

Two hours later (the time I had allotted to work on CCK08), and I was lost in debates about epistemology, scepticism, technorealism, communism, constructivism,…I read a lot, but I learned little. But I didn’t give up – having learned my lesson I began the next day with readings. I’m glad I did because of passages like these:

Connectivism finds its roots in the climate of abundance, rapid change, diverse information sources and perspectives, and the critical need to find a way to filter and make sense of the chaos (George Siemens, link)

Previous conceptions of learning rested heavily on information and knowledge acquisition. The fundamental need of learning in our society has changed. Due to rapid growth of knowledge, the act of learning has shifted from acquisition to assimilation, from understanding of individual elements to comprehending an entire space and, thereby, understanding how elements connect. (George Siemens, link)

 This I understand, and more importantly I believe. So on I go.

Who will bring the ham?

It has been almost two months since my last post.   Before I return to my personal learning network and exploring how parents can use web tools to connect with education, I need to write about why I’ve been quiet for so long. 

Some time ago I wrote about curiosity and being an only child who read a lot of books and newspapers.  That early love of current events, exploring opinion, and getting the facts was spurred by my father.  He taught me many things and he shaped my personality in many ways.  

And now he is gone. The loss came too soon. In less than six months a very active man with so much to give and so much to teach became very ill.  The person who could fix anything finally had to put down his tools.

While much of what happened in early May is a blur, I do know that we could not have gotten through it without the help of our friends, neighbours, and close relatives. So many acts of kindness came our way – so many brought food – enough food to feed us for days, complete meals, no fewer than four full meals centered around beautiful baked hams.   

Life does move on and so must I.  In the last few weeks I’ve been able to catch up with piles of posts in my feedreader, peak into Twitter, update my Facebook page and listen to some great podcasts that I missed while I was unplugged. But most importantly, I’ve spent time connecting with family and friends face to face. 

As much as I believe that technology can help us form new communities - groups of people who will help us learn, give us guidance and support, open our eyes to new ideas - our online network simply cannot replace our friends and neighbours.  During a time of profound grief, when you need someone to sit in a hospital room with you all night long, or you need a shoulder to cry on,  or you need a hot meal, it is those people who are close to you that will get you through.

So for all of us who are working hard to use technology to create and support online relationships – we must also remember to nurture our offline relationships.  We have to be sure to take care of and connect with those people who will be good enough to bring the ham.  

My journey from consumer to producer

Curious: marked by a desire to investigate and learn.

I’ve always been a curious person. Perhaps it stems from being an only child who found companionship in books; perhaps it stems from having parents who valued post-secondary education enough to help me earn two degrees in very different fields; perhaps it is just a matter of my genes imparting me with a high curiosity quotient.

My curious nature has led me to be a “news junkie” and the easily consumable news offered by the internet led me to spend more and more time online.  A few years ago my time online morphed into reading (and occasionally commenting on) political blogs.  

About 18 monts ago I came across a newspaper article that struck a deep cord. It was by a technology mentor (Jeff Whipple) who was so enthusiastic about the potential of 1:1 learning environments that he was driven to let the world (okay New Brunswick) know about their potential.  I began reading his blog and eventually I contacted him to learn more. Jeff made sure I was invited to the 21C Learning conference held here last August where David Warlick was the keynote speaker. After hearing David I was hooked.

My time as a pure consumer lasted about 8 months. I had accumulated so much inspiration, information, stimulation and frustration,  I needed a place to put it all together and make sense of it. Hence Tools of Engagement, my personal learning environment, was born.

Final Note to this reflection blog - this post was originally inspired by Jeff Utecht’s post of March 12 “Moving from Consumer to Producer of Information“, but it has come full-circle this evening. After reading Will Richardson’s post “On Infovores and Infofighters” I now understand I’m an “infovore” (an information junkie) just looking to create a little love!