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My First MOOC – CCK11 – Connectivism and Connected Knowledge

This week I began to participate in my very first MOOC.  A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course.  So, why am I doing this MOOC?  I want to  expand how I connect and network with others.  In addition,  I am interested in learning more about the theory of connectivism and networked learning with participants and the course facilitators,  Stephen Downes and George Siemens.

For me, this MOOC, CCK11 will offer me the opportunity to continue my stance in the journey of lifelong learning in a very new and different way. I will begin to negogiate and navigate my way through this course, expanding  flows of new knowledge through the use of technology in an open yet paced way.  As I begin to orient myself to the course and digest the readings, I  underline that learning is social, contextual and complex.  I was encouraged by George’s words when he suggested that “confusion is a good thing” and I’m certainly figuring out my role and how I will engage in this course.

I look forward to my learning ecosystem evolving as I network with course participants. Stephen Downes shares with us that “Knowledge is a set of connections.  A mind is a learning thing.  A computer is a learning thing and society is a learning thing.”

In today’s digital world, learning is powerful when:

  • it is open, flexible and connected
  • it builds networks of information, contacts and resources creating growth and development in the mind
  • it is participatory, networked and builds in choice and personalization
  • it maximizes the use of technology and tools

Learner control and freedom is integral to 21stCentury lifelong education and learning.  As an educator, my goal is to grow my thinking and understanding of being a connected learner.

A question I have:
How do we create responsive and connected  K-12 learning models that encourages lifelong learning in today’s networked world?

I look forward to connecting and growing over the next weeks.

Is Leadership Different in 21st Century?

I get excited about change, consider myself to be responsive and positive when change happens and truly believe that in today’s world the only constant is change.  So, after eight rewarding and amazing years as the Principal of Community & Continuing Education for  Hamilton Wentworth District School (HWDSB), I’m moving on in my leadership journey to a newly created principalship in HWDSB.  I officially began my role this September as the Principal of 21st Century Fluencies and I am humbled and honoured to be in this new role.

As I transitioned over the summer, I found myself spending  time reflecting and asking myself more and more:  How do we define leadership in the 21st Century?  Is it different?   What are the key leadership skills of today?   Are they different? What do leaders of the 21st Century do differently when it comes to:

  • inspiring a shared vision and setting direction
  • building relationships and developing together with people
  • focusing on learning and achievement for all

How do leaders in the 21st Century model the way, inspire a shared vision of learning as we move forward in the future?   How do we challenge the process and take risks empowering others to act and make a difference in the lives of our students and greater community?

For me, it starts with setting an example of  how we  learn in the 21st Century.  It is about always learning in today’s era of lifelong learning.   Also, leading  today is about connecting, collaborating and most importantly contributing in a local and global way.  And that’s part of what is different.  How do we do this?  We leverage the use of different tools such as social media to learn and collaborate real-time with others anywhere and anytime.  Our learning  reaches far beyond those we  network with in our schools.

Don’t get me wrong, we must always first focus on the staff and students who are onground learning day to day with us.  We model the way and practice collaborative inquiry with them.

A blogpost written  this week by Chris Lehmann, Principal of Science Leadership Academy  comments on his recent article in Tech & Learning Magazine, Top 3 Leadership Skills.  Chris underlines that leadership  today does not  “focus explicitly on tech skills”. He comments that it is the soft skills that are most important as you learn from your teachers and students in their classrooms.

As I go forward into the future with my team and in my new role, I will be open, flexible, optimistic,  ready to learn from and with all and practice an inquiry habit of mind.

Next Steps: Lifelong Everyday Learning

On Friday April 30th in Toronto, I was honoured to spend time sharing with my continuing education colleagues from all over Ontario re:  how building a PLN can empower you to grow as a professional each and every day.  The goal was to demonstrate how it is possible and essential to go beyond F2F networking and learning and move to everyday learning with each other through the use of web 2.0 tools such as wikis, twitter and video conferencing.

For two hours, we navigated our  Networking 2 Learn wiki  discussing these questions:

  • What are 21st century skills, and why do they matter?
  • What does it mean to be literate in the 21st Century?
  • What is a personal learning network (PLN)?
  • How can growing a PLN make me a better educator?
  • How do I use web 2.0 tools to build and maintain a PLN?

In terms of context, it must be stated that our group creates programs in adult, alternative and continuing education in Ontario and most of us have staff who are in many locations and it is very challenging to bring them together onground and often impossible due to the geographics, etc…  Also, another reality is that we as professionals have very unique roles in our own school boards and do find that we are different.   Our staff is different, our schools are different and hence, we often don’t fit  in with the K-12 learning community.  We did conclude on Friday April 30th, 2010 that creating a PLN and starting out slowly and using web 2.0 tools would not only allow us to collaborate and network but it would also keep us in tune with the many students we serve.  In fact, my colleague, Becky Howse from TVDSB debriefed at the plenary on our behalf and in her own unique and candid way stated that “it was time to tweet!”

As I reflect this weekend, I am jazzed and optimistic as my provincial colleagues did agree that it was time to be on board as a collective in using web 2.0 tools and building PLNs. YEAH!  My next steps will be to encourage, model, position and invite  my “con eddies” in Ontario to be online with me.  I promise to keep it going with our small group.  I will be there when  they tweet me for the first time or share in  #conted.  I promise to celebrate with them when they begin to contribute in our wiki.   My promise is to be open, to support, to share, to encourage, to celebrate and most of all to collaborate and to learn with them.   This is my promise to them and all others who join us!  Lifelong everyday learning in continuing education – makes sense to me.

Evolution of a Friendship

My thoughts today are about how a friend of mine shared with me for the first time this week via e-mail a suggested web 2.0 tool!  He’s a tech friend who I call ” the fixer.”  We normally only connect on the hardware /  systems front.   We also connect on the 911 front  – only when I call!   Our networking and sharing (mostly my learning from him) involves discussion re: firewalls, server design, disaster recovery plan, system integrity and so on.  I was delighted that our friendship and learning has moved to another level.  You see,  Len recommended Dropbox to me.   Yeah, Len!

Web 2.0 and collaboration does bring people together even when they have been friends already for sometime.

PLNs and HWDSB Aspiring Leaders

On March 30th, HWDSB hosted a full day of workshops for 70 aspiring leaders.  Zoe Branigan-Pipe and I had the privilege of presenting a workshop on Personal Learning Networks. Our PLNs wiki organized our time together and shared
how PLNs allow one to make connections and collaborate within HWDSB (schools and system) from around the province, country and world.

An amazing highlight to the afternoon was when Alec Couros skyped in to comment and field questions on the importance of PLNs and how they build our capacity as learners and leaders.  Our session ended with a tie back to the Ontario Leadership Framework for Principals and Vice-Principals.

As leaders, we must take the risk with our time and create our own PLN.  Note:  everyone’s PLN will be and is different.  PLNs are customized to what and how you want to learn and  become a part of  one’s everyday learning and practice.

Article: A is for App

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April 1, 2010
Article location:  A is for App
An interesting read!