Sunday, November 16, 2008

Accept a Challenge and Try Something New with Your Network

The last time we bloggers at TechLearning wrote about going to dinner together was during the NECC extravaganza, where 52 of us signed up online to meet up at a restaurant in San Antonio, and we pulled it off!
Well, the big happening in the virtual online network of Personal Learning Networks just finished up the last official event on November 1, 2008. I had not planned ahead to take part in the When Night Falls Event, but by October 31, 2008, I was wishing I had, so, I checked out the schedule and found that my good, virtual friend, Vance Stevens was moderating a one hour time slot from Abu Dhabi at GMT. For me it was going to be 4 PM EDT on the east coast of the United States. Vance would be checking in from Abu Dhai and for him it was going to be 1 AM his time.It was a fascinating global hour. We talked to several people in the chat room of Elluminate, we instant messaged among ourselves, asked questions of moderators, of one another and generally had what you would imagine would be your typical coffee shop conversation about a fabulous event we had just attended.It was somewhat of a relief that the live events were done, it was also a significant let down for the faucet was turned off at the end of that 24 hours around the globe! Yet.....

I just happened to be reading a follow up blog account about a school in Florida that was holding a LAN, local area network, gathering for their teachers as they continued to participate in the conversations of the online blogs, posts and videos. I left a comment, which is a really polite thing to do when you read someone's blog post, it lets them know someone is reading their work and then lets them know if you agree or disagree. We don't want the blogosphere to be an echo chamber of comments and only agreements, we want challenges, arguments-polite of course, as we struggle to make our journey into 21st Century Learning.

I offered to SKYPE into their LAN meeting when they next met. A couple days later I heard from Silvia Tolisano, Langwitches that her group was meeting again on November 11 in the late afternoon. I jumped at the chance to join their after school conversation. So, my question is, when was the last time you were invited to dinner, 1,500 miles away and accepted the offer? At a pre-determined time, I answered my SKYPE call, and joined about 20 or so people. If I remember correctly it was the first time for 9 of them to be in a SKYPE call. YEAH, they accepted the challenge, they participated and hopefully enjoyed the conversation and found purpose for their own lives and classrooms. Yes, we need to try out these tools on our own networks before we bring our students into them. We need to make the mistakes and learn, we need to experience the success of a challenge and share that with our students.

My hope is that you accept a challenge and try something new with your own network, then find purpose for using a similar tool in your classrooms. You can still participate in the, it lives on and so do the events, just ask and someone will join you and your group.

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This is also cross-posted at

1 comment:

Beth Holmes said...

Hi, Cheryl,

I'm so glad to have a break in my work schedule!It's so good to catch up with my Reader!

You make an important point here. Our PLNs are a great source of learning. We all benefit from the rich lessons shared by our colleagues. Still, if we do not press beyond the surface communications, it is unlikely that deeper and more complex issues will be shared, discussed and resolved. Real problem-solving requires steps far beyond initial knowledge and comprehension exchanges - toward the higher levels of Bloom's. This more sophisticated type of communication moves far beyond a "tweet," beyond a blog, and into new forums that enable a different type of exchange. In the end, if serious conversations fail to become productive solutions, we risk "spinning wheels" --and who has time?

Your insight is keen, Cheryl. I'm so glad you press forward for deeper communications!

Have a Merry Christmas!