Local Over Global Network Building

I’ve been thinking more and more about the networks/communities we build using technology. My experience at Educon had me thinking even more about it as several of the attendees discussed building global networks vs. local networks. Reading about the Science Leadership Academy’s culture you’ll see that local communities of learners (educators included) without the focus on making global connections can be extremely powerful for learning.

As I read more I’m finding that there is power in the using all these tools available to us on the web for connecting with those in our areas. A recent article in Wired Magazine states (substitute educational words where appropriate):

One day, perhaps, virtual communication will become so good we’ll no longer feel the need to shake hands with a new collaborator or brainstorm in the same room. But for now, the world seems to be changing in a way that actually demands more meetings. Business is more innovative, and its processes more complex. That demands tacit knowledge, collaboration, and trust — all things that seem to follow best from person-to-person meetings. “Ideas are more important than ever,” Glaeser says, “and the most important ideas are communicated face-to-face.”

I’ve always hailed the power of having global connections and I will continue to do so, but I now believe a lot more time and energy should be put towards building our local connections and sharing the power of these tools to collaborate locally or regionally. Connecting with folks from places around the country or world is powerful for sure, but what of the immediate connections here at home? It’s one thing to show a nay-sayer administrator or colleague how a classroom is connecting with another in a remote location, but another to show how several local classrooms are collaborating to take on an authentic environmental or cultural issue in their local area. Wouldn’t we all benefit from building stronger connections that add value to what we are doing locally?

In terms of professional networks, I like the concept of the regional PLP. This is an opportunity for us to connect with each other, share thoughts and ideas, build blogs to share information/projects to join, ask questions and lend support for each other. It’s our chance to really set an example for the rest of our region and local districts to take a look at what is possible in the new learning environments that we are exploring here.

Photo Credit: Nebraska Library Commission

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Multi-task with a Purpose

I’m not the strongest blogger. I honestly struggle with writing posts. Most times they just seem, to me, to be so thin and inconsequential. I’ve been told that some of my best posts/comments take place in a few Ning networks that are supporting some local initiatives that I am a part of. So, I decided to share a snippet of one comment I wrote in response to the topic “Learning 2.0”. The following was in response to a colleagues comment on how students have the ability to multi-task.

I think we have to really look at what purposeful multitasking looks like. If the student is using SMS, IM, MySpace, etc. while doing homework, are they using them to accomplish the work before them or are they just distractions to make it more enjoyable? I would argue this is a very common thing. Is this good? I guess the skill of dividing attention is okay, but not when the tasks are disparate.

Without learning how to construct and synergize information into meaningful knowledge, hypothesis or questions are students simply a feather in the wind? I think there are those that are more effective multi-taskers and those that are simply distracted. Understanding the difference is important.

Take Twitter, once someone gets an understanding of how it works and how to leverage it, they can use it during the day to solicit information from their network, while they accomplish another task. That’s multitasking, but it has a purpose. We had a saying when I was coaching… move with purpose. Maybe we should “multi-task with a purpose.”

So this is where I ask what your take is… how do you multi-task? What ways have you seen purposeful multi-tasking by students?

Photo Credit: http://flickr.com/photos/samhines/465688758/

Welcome to Blogging

Welcome to my new friends and colleagues in the Western New York – Powerful Learning Practices (WNY-PLP) group!

Undoubtedly, Web 2.0 tools, including the infamous blog, may be completely new to many of you. This post is designed to give you a sense for the blogging experience. I’d like you (both WNY-PLP participants and you other readers out there in the blogosphere) to comment on the following:

  • What was your first perception of blogs or bloggers?
  • Do you currently read blogs?
  • Do you have a blog?
  • Other thoughts/feelings? (it’s okay, let it out)
  • What are your suggestions for those new to blogging and looking to get started soon? (For those already blogging.)

Thanks for your input folks. I’ll hope to be seeing you in the blogosphere (a mystical place where conversations go to be connected).

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