Coming Full Circle: Reflections on Technology and Connectivism

spiralPhoto by Jim Moran

Two years ago I went to an OTF and ECOO sponsored conference called Expanding Our Boundaries. When I attended that conference, I was relatively new to the world of web 2.0, social media, and theories of connectivism and constructivism. I know that for a fact because I have a digital record of it. Here’s my blog post from February 27, 2009.

It’s amazing to me to read how giddy I was about learning about hashtags and Twitter’s potential. I was a recent convert to Twitter, but still pretty much “new” to it. I had been blogging sporadically for about a year, but I was just starting to see what a valuable tool it was for my own reflection and professional development. (Boy do I get that NOW!) I was also particularly silly about the fact that Will Richardson had responded to two of my tweets.

Then if you go to the next post, I had to find a blog post to read and comment on in my own blog and then tweet about it. I also put in a video that I recorded that morning, and to my delight I can see people I now know like Zoe Branigan-Pipe! How amazing is that?

So today, because I’ve been lucky enough to form great connections with people like Doug Peterson, Cyndie Jacobs, and Brenda Sherry, I’m back at the very same conference with Will Richardson, but this time I was a panelist on last night’s discussion about social media in the classroom. I’ve been able to help other teachers who are newbies like I was, and I’ve been able to connect with people who I follow on Twitter.

Today’s most amazing moment came when Will was showing everyone how people shared links in Twitter and found that George Siemens was about to start an Elluminate session with his class so Will just clicked the link and had George talk to the entire room about Connectivism. I tried to record it on my iPhone, but it didn’t turn out very well. It was a pretty incredible moment for teaching the power of the network. It was also pretty fun when George tweeted some hellos to us.

It’s astounding how much can change in two years. Truly astounding. It’s hard to imagine a time where I didn’t have a network of brilliant and talented people who help me solve problems and provide me with inspiration. It’s equally hard to imagine a time when I didn’t actively reflect and question my own pedagogy. I feel very lucky to be where I am right now. I’m can’t wait to see where I’ll be two years from now.

“Coming Full Circle” is probably not an accurate title for this blog post, because nothing is being brought to a close here. It’s more like a spiral. You get the idea.


Deep breath.

Let’s keep learning!

Reflections on ECOO 2010

The most important thing I learned was that if at all possible, attend a conference with a friend. I know I had a ton of Twitter friends at ECOO, but it was awfully nice to be able to go with my friend Wendy, both for moral support and to have someone to bounce new ideas off of.

The second most important thing I learned is to make sure your Twitter picture accurately reflects your current hairstyle, otherwise people find it very disorienting.

The third most important thing I learned is that wireless WILL cut out at a pivotal moment during your presentation, so use an ethernet cord if at all possible.

I loved the presentation by @royanlee who has become the “it” boy of technology and student engagement (Although I personally feel it’s cheating to bring your students–just kidding, Royan. Well played.). He also has absolutely, hands-down, the best delivery when it comes to dealing with difficult questions. So calm and low key. Remember me when you become the next Will Richardson, okay?

A big shout out to “Pegah the Perfect” who talked to us about her blog.

I also loved @neilstephenson’s cigar box project presentation. Talk about making history relevant! Also, he made reference to St.Thomas and Jumbo the elephant which gets him bonus points since I teach in St. Thomas.

The Pecha Kucha was something I dreaded but turned out to be one of the most positive moments of the whole weekend. I can’t wait to try this presentation style with my students. Thanks to @msjweir who asked me to present. It was great to meet @Grade1 and @peterskillen face to face, and also great to see @thecleversheep, @KimMcGill again.

It’s great to be at a conference like this because these people GET me. I’m not weird or out-there with them. People don’t look at me strangely when I talk about using Wikipedia for research and I don’t have to use my “do you ban paper because students are passing notes” analogy about cellphones. On the other hand, I have to remember that when I get back to my school, some people will wrinkle their noses when I talk about cell phones and cringe when I say Wikipedia is a good place to begin research projects. Baby steps.

And now, I give you the ECOO 2010 Pecha Kuchas, with many thanks to @colinjagoe for rockstar editing.