Posts Tagged ‘blogosphere’

Connectivity and conversation

July 1st, 2009

I’m writing this blog from the Rydges hotel in Rotorua, where I’m perched in this lovely open restaurant concentrating on a keynote I’m about to give to the School Support Services Hui here.  The work of preparing for this presentation has brought me to think quite a lot about communities and how we find them and how we build them.

I had resisted doing another keynote here in this season of speaking at multiple conferences. After all, a ninety-minute talk about transformation gets overly ironic after a while. Here we get back into questions about information and transformation, about knowledge and capacity. I think learning about adult development and transformation is potentially vital information to help people craft a map of their own lives and move more deliberately toward some desired future. And at the same time, talking for 90 minutes about transformation is hardly going to help anyone begin to transform. The best that can happen is a tiny beginning—and then the question is, what have we begun? Where is the community which supports this emerging transformation into the future?

The reason I’m so excited about this particular hui and this particular keynote is that from the very beginning, the organisers here were interested in deep exploration instead of a touch of this and a dash of that.  And so we have crafted this day together, building together on what our hopes might be for the people here, how we might all become a community of thinkers all trying to do this difficult thing of changing the way we think, work, teach, be in the world. And the big hope of this website is that we will all collaborate in becoming a community of thinkers together here too.

See, I believe the issues we face will never be solved by great minds thinking alone. We need minds and hearts and experience and theory and practice and passion from all of us working together, each of us pushing the thinking of the group a little, each of us contributing what we can to make us all bigger, to make us all a little more able to handle the complexities of the problems which face our world, to make us all a little safer as we are supported in our risktaking by the gathering community around us. That’s why I’m hoping that long after I’m done talking today, after the planes and cars have taken us away from this lovely hotel, we’ll meet again here on this blogspace, and we’ll talk together and learn from and alongside each other. And we’ll shift thinking and shift practice and shift schools and schooling. And ultimately, we’ll shift communities and environments and ecosystems. I do not think big because I am so idealistic and optimistic. I think big because thinking big is the only option available to us anymore.  We are on the threshold of a new world. A leader, facing a perilous time, once said,
“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate for the stormy present.  The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion.  As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.”
Abraham Lincoln could not at that time have imagined what the storms the present would bring when he talked to the US Congress in 1862. Neither do we know what these storms might bring. But we do know that the increase in both connectivity and mutual peril in our world is bigger than any one person, community, or nation. And it is only in this gathering space—in huis like this one today, in virtual communities like—that we will be able to reach beyond our individual limitations and really “think anew and act anew”. Come, readers, and think with us. Let’s build a new set of ideas and practices and connections to move us beyond this stormy present.

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changelearning and the e-learning research network

May 22nd, 2009

This posting continues an ongoing thread designed to bring to your attention other blogs or websites I think are worth checking out.


I recently met one of the directors of the Canadian Council on Learning, and whilst having a good look around their website, I found my way onto a wonderful related site called changelearning.

changelearning has exciting (and uncanny) parallels to, and I couldn’t be more happy to have found it!  It’s based on the work of The 21st Century Learning Initiative, an international network of academics, researchers, policy makers and educators who (like us) are encouraging people to re-think our current systems of education. The development of the site was funded by the Canadian Council on Learning, and created by an organisation called Classroom Connections (find out more about them here)

The site is well laid out, and content-rich – but obviously (like us) still in development. There are videos, research summaries, and it looks like eventually there will be places to post book reviews, blogs, discussion forums, and so forth. If anyone from is reading this – let’s talk about cross-postings and/or collaboration!

The e-learning research network

This site is a little closer to home, based right here in New Zealand. The e-learning research network is a place for teachers, educators and researchers to share the evidence about the impact of e-learning on teaching and learning (The Network’s byline: “From research to practice: transforming New Zealand education through e-learning”).  Last night I realised I ought to spend a bit more time reading or participating in some of the discussions happening in this network, as I dipped in and out of conversation threads that mused on the real meaning of “lifelong learning”, and read about some of the ideas around elearning that people were exploring in their  research and/or classrooms.

Realising the wealth of possibilities out there for people to connect, collaborate, learn and discuss ideas related to 21st century thinking in learning and education is exciting. But it’s also a little challenging. How can one find the time to read everything one wants to read, write everything one wants to write, and keep up with all the discussions one wants to be part of? I’m not sure of the answer to this one. But in any case, I’d like to keep connected…and I’d like to keep sharing the things I find with you!

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Lurkers, reveal thyselves!

April 15th, 2009

According to our “About” page,

This website is a space for theory and practice to interact, for theory to inform practice, and practice to inform theory.

We aim to support educators to talk about contemporary education, and to equip them with some analytical tools (articles, thinking objects) for doing so.

Reading the description above, it does seem to me to read a little bit one-way – i.e. this site is about “us” helping/telling/teaching/equipping “you” to be able to think about or talk about 21st century learning.

However, I personally think  of as a space for people to engage in collaborative knowledge-building, debate, discussion, questioning, etc. It’s not about “us” telling “you”, but rather, it’s about all of us thinking together, pushing and challenging our thinking, asking questions, and so on, within the general “frame” that we have established around 21st century thinking about learning and education.  However, as many bloggers know, in the absence of comment or feedback  sometimes you can really feel as though you are just talking to yourself. (I’m sure a lot of teachers and parents must feel like this sometimes!).

Thanks to the magic of google analytics, we know that we are getting visitors from around the world to, and I have also had people emailing me or telling me in the kitchen or staffroom at work that they’ve read some of the site and found it interesting.

In the interest of opening up these discussions further, I would hereby like to call on all you lurkers, readers, and passers-by – drop us a comment or two!!  (In the last week or so we’ve been getting hit by spam-bots,  so it would be nice to read some genuine comments from humans, rather than websites trying to sell us viagra!). So if you are reading this, don’t be shy – I’d love to hear:

  • Who are you?
  • What brought you to, what do you make of these ideas?
  • What are your own questions, experiences, memories, visions, and challenges with respect to thinking about education and learning for the 21st century?
  • OR – if you’ve been lurking for a while – what’s held you back from commenting to date?

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Tales from the blogosphere (part 1)

March 6th, 2009

One of the great things about the internet is how easy it is to find other people  who share your interests and passions. Of course, depending on how obscure your interests are, those people may be a little hard to find. But in most cases I’m pretty sure they’re out there somewhere, blogging away,  and just waiting and hoping that someone with shared interests wants to connect with them….

(“Hey Bob, Mike here. I’ve been reading your blog – you love Bulgarian films about the circus? Wow!  I like Bulgarian films about the circus too! Didn’t you just love Svirachat? Let’s be Facebook friends!”)

In the case of “shifting to 21st century thinking about education and learning”, it’s not at all difficult to find other people out there in the blogosphere who  are asking the kinds of questions that we’re asking, pondering the same kinds of challenges we’re pondering, and providing stimulating examples of the kinds of practices that can help us reshape teaching and schooling for the 21st century.  Over the last few days I’ve been perusing the web in search of some of these people. Here’s a quick sampling of who, and what, I’ve been reading:

  • I’ve enjoyed reading postings on The 21st Century Schoolhouse, written by Miller, a teacher from Conneticut. He describes himself (and his blog) as “A high school English teacher still trying to wrap his brain around teaching 21st century skills, digital literacy, the web 2.0, and anything else that sounds new”.  It’s fascinating to read some of Millers’ insights and struggles with questions about what it means to be a 21st century teacher, not to mention seeing how he’s been putting his ideas and working theories into practice. I recommend following some of the links related to the  21st century Journalism class he teaches.
  • Fans of Vygotsky have to love Konrad Glogowski’s blog of proximal development. There are just so many interesting ideas and stories here, such as the posting “how to avoid school talk part 1″ and The Virtual Classroom Project
  • Finally, a little gem from my own hometown of Hamilton New Zealand, Woodmonsta’s Blog, a blog created by an Intermediate (Middle School) teacher for, and with, his class.

I plan to continue scanning the Internet to see what else (and who else) I can find that I think is worth checking out…. in between writing a massive Final Report and two AERA conference papers, that is!

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