Over the past two years, I have been inspired by the creative activities, sharing, and reflective feedback of members of an important learning community. Digital Storytelling (or DS106) is a free, open online course hosted at the University of Mary Washington. It is an unique learning environment. One may join and leave whenever one wants while becoming engaged in learning to “tell digital stories” through more than 400 creative assignments and related components.
For example, today’s “Daily Create” #541 challenged participants to “Draw something abstract out of straight lines.”
My creation below, requires one to “read between the lines”:
This design reflects, in many ways, the actions of my personal learning network or PLN. Like the straight-line components, my network and support team works in the background with little fanfare. In fact, “They make me look good!” Through a variety of social networking apps (including old-fashioned email), they recommend and reflect on new ideas while renewing my passion for learning and sharing in K-12 education.
As Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” To all my PLN “giants”, be they students, teachers, family, or friends, I thank you all for caring and sharing.
Although this tale has already been documented in my earlier posts, this powerful, inspirational story needs to be regularly shared with educators and their students.
Alan Levine (aka @cogdog) has challenged DS106 and ETMOOC participants to share “True Stories of Open Sharing … examples of times when there was an unexpected positive outcome after sharing something openly online.”
My inspiring story starts with a serendipitous visit to 10-year old Laura Stockman’s blog entitled “25 Days to Make a Difference”. Through a blog post, I shared Laura’s passionate quest “to make the world a little better”. In turn, two amazing educators Chris Harbeck (of Winnipeg, Manitoba) and Karl Fisch (of Centennial, Colorado) challenged their students to contribute funds in December to be shared with different charities. I have tried to capture this story of concern, caring, and connection in the following “Sharing Is Caring” YouTube video:
I have included resource slides at the end of this video which list the 10 respective Internet addresses of important components of this inspirational story. However, I am also including them below, as active hyperlinks, to make it easier for readers to examine this story in depth:
We would like you to introduce yourself to #etmooc. Declaring your identity, through letting us know a bit about who you are, will help participants better relate to and connect with you.
To try and be more economical with my usual long-winded writing style, I have included an image since we all know that “a picture is worth 1000 words”.
As a retired K-12 Educational Technology Consultant and teacher, I consider myself to be a life-long-learner. My gravatar (Globally Recognized Avatar) creation illustrates the three stages in our human development – child, adolescent, and adult. More importantly, the logo portrays that through communicating, collaborating, and “putting our heads together”, each individual can benefit from the ideas that others share.
I believe that sharing educational ideas and resources is just like tossing a pebble into a quiet pond. We have no idea how far the ripples will travel and we have no idea how other educators, and more importantly, how other students will benefit.
The motto “Ancora Imparo!” was uttered by Michelangelo at the age of 87 and translates to “Still, I am learning” or I am still learning”. Imagine such a profound statement being admitted by this artistic genius who recognized that, even in his latter years, there was still much more to learn. As such, “Ancora Imparo!” seemed to be a very fitting motto for my blog and a mantra for all “Life-Long-Learners”.
The vast majority of the participants in the #etmooc learning environment will use gravatar images that are pictures of themselves. However, I have been actively engaged in using and teaching about the Internet since its first introduction to K-12 students and staff. As educators, we were always concerned with protecting the identity of students. We were diligent in preventing student faces, together with corresponding names, from appearing on our web pages to be viewed by a global audience. As such, I felt it was important, at that time, to model discretion and chose a graphic image to represent my identity. Furthermore, if, the extremely knowledgeable educational blogger, Alan Levine can use a “dog” as his gravatar, I feel quite content to utilize my “putting our heads together” image to represent me in the social networking and MOOC environment.
I believe in serendipitous learning. For those educators who are connected online, or consider themselves to be part of a professional learning network or PLN, such learning opportunities present themselves with regular frequency. Readers who have followed my blog for the past year know how excited I was when Darren Kuropatwa sent me an email suggesting that I might like to participate in a free, “massive open online course” or MOCC called Digital Storytelling – DS106. Those wishing to learn more about my amazing adventure, need only click on the DS106 category link on the right-side menu to filter out more than three dozen posts that share my excitement as I became engaged in this free, online learning environment.
I was so excited about the learning and networking opportunities that were afforded me through my initial DS106 exposure last Spring, that I again enrolled in DS106 this January. This action exposed me to Ben Rimes and his informative blog called “The Tech Savvy Educator” where he announced in early January that he had “also signed up for #ETMOOC”. I was intrigued and searched out this Educational Technology & Media MOOC. Like DS106, participants choose their own learning goals, engage in dialogue with other educators, share ideas and resources, and reflect through their individual blogs posts. All tweets with the hashtag #ETMOOC and blog posts with the tag or category ETMOOC will be aggregated centrally thanks to the dedication and hard work of Alan Levine (aka cogdog) and his team. Needless to say, I was intrigued, so I signed up for ETMOOC and officially start this unique learning adventure tomorrow with over 1200 participants representing 67 countries around the world. Future blog posts relating to this unique endeavour will be classified and listed under the newly created ETMOOC category found in the right-hand menu.
My second serendipitous learning opportunity occurred last night while I was scanning some of the aggregated tweets from ETMOOC participants. One individual (who I unfortunately cannot remember, so as to give credit) commented about the creativity of the educational posters created by Krissy Venosdale. As luck would have it, I searched through Krissy’s posters and thought that the image that I included above represented well my love of learning. Thanks Krissy for caring and sharing.
Jess McCulloch is an innovative educator from Melbourne Australia. Through her creative Rhyming for Teacher Learning endeavour, Jess used crowd-funding to help raise travel funding to attend this past summer’s UnPlug’d educational summit in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park.
I am lucky to have close friends who, as educational change agents, attended the initial 2011 UnPlug’d summit. Their enthusiasm and passion for teaching was magnified through interaction with like-minded colleagues. They willingly shared their powerful experience through blogging, presentations, and their free, downloadable resource “What Matters Most in Education”. Their K-12 vision and stories continue to have a tremendous world-wide impact on other teachers and ultimately their students.
So when Jess McCulloch, decided she wanted to travel from Australia to Canada to participate in this year’s UnPlug’d, I decided to help her out with a small contribution. In return, Jess promised to write a poem on a subject of my choosing. Having benefited greatly from the willingness of others, who share educational ideas and resources, I suggested that “the importance of online sharing” might be a topic worthy of her talents.
I include both Jess’ reading as well as her creative poem below:
I share my work online because when I do
I hope I’ve added something that’s useful to you
I share my ideas online because then I know
That you adding yours will then help mine grow
I share my pictures online because then you can see
A little bit more about what makes me me
I look for your work online because I know that it could
Help me shape mine like no other would
I look for your ideas online because I want to think
About new perspectives, opinions and make my own links
I look for your pictures online because it does make me smile
To see a different side of you every once in a while.
To make the Internet such a rich space to trawl through
I share online what I can and I’m rapt you do too.
I am amazed at how Jess has captured the essence of the importance of sharing online in this creative 14 line poem. However, I’m sure there are readers who might be wondering … “Why give a contribution to an educator on the other side of the world, particularly one you have never met?”
True, I have never met Jess McCulloch face-to-face but I do feel as though I know something about her through her remarkable online sharing.
I was first introduced to her educational passion when she shared “The Black Line Mystery”, as an innovative and engaging educational activity as part of the free, K12Online Conference last year. Through the eyes of Agent 42 (in a “Carmen Sandiego” style that older educators will appreciate), Jess engaged her students as they began learning Chinese characters beginning with the most complex symbol.
My next encounter with Jess occurred when I participated in the free DS106 Digital Storytelling course this past spring. There was Jess, participating “from a distance” like me, sharing what she was learning with others. As an educator, I found her creations and comments to be quite inspiring and insightful. Her “Technology Does Not Fit” or “The Journey Not The Speed” are not only creative poems, they share powerful pedagogical messages to educators world-wide.
I must admit that one of my favourite "McCulloch moments" is Jess' inspirational "Magical Connections" keynote ...
I recommend that readers Google “Jess McCulloch”. In doing so, one will be impressed with the wealth of educational ideas that she shares through a wide variety of forums and applications. I must admit that one of my favourite “McCulloch moments” is Jess’ inspirational “Magical Connections” keynote presented in Shanghai. Jess’ focus was to engage the audience so that they would recognize “the importance of connecting with students”. Having delivered educational keynotes myself, I know how challenging it can be to share ideas that are applicable and meaningful to an audience of educators who teach a wide variety of grades and different subject areas. However, Jess demonstrated her talents and pedagogical passion to paint a powerful picture through poetry. Jess’ simple background instructions “My pictures are the ones that are in your head” helped those in the audience engage with her poetic keynote as they identified similar magical moments in their own teaching careers.
On Jess’ “The #technoLanguages Blog”, she referred to herself using the “LOTE” acronym. Not knowing what these four characters represented, I Googled them and found that as a teacher of Chinese, Jess was considered to be a teacher of “Language(s) Other Than English” or LOTE. However, I think that in Jess’ case, this LOTE acronym might equally represent “Learning on the Edge”. Jess continues to risk-take, learn, and share widely with others. This commitment was revealed in her UnPlug’d profile when Jess made the following comment when asked what her interest was in “unplugging”:
To stop, sit, and really focus on what is important to education. To take the chance to reflect on what direction I’m taking and what conversations I need to have to push my own learning.
This comment really resonated with me because Jess is, indeed, a kindred spirit and exemplifies what it is to be a life-long-learner.
Jess … on behalf of all those educators and students who have benefited from your ideas and resources, thank you for caring and sharing.
The Executive of the Manitoba Association for Computing Educators (ManACE) are to be congratulated. They have arranged for Dean Shareski and Alec Couros to present “Learning in Public” at their AGM. As outstanding educators, this “dynamic duo” from Saskatchewan plan to “look at creating & sharing digital content & online collaboration”.
Don’t miss this opportunity to learn and connect in Winnipeg with other technology-using educators on May 29th at 7:00 pm at the King’s Head Pub at 120 King Street. Additional information can be found on the ManACE Memos blog.
All our welcome to this free educational experience. All that is requested is that you please REGISTER ONLINE to help the planning committee better organize this event.
Please view and/or print this ManACE AGM Poster and share it with your staff and other educators so that all that may be interested can attend.