Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's a small world, after all!

Globephoto © 2010 Raphi | more info (via: Wylio)
For the past three months, I have sat in my dining room and watched the world shrink around me. And no, this was not the result of global warming, or overeating! Rather this was the result of a totally new phenomenon. At least, new for me. It's called "global learning".

For you, reading my blog today, this phenomenon may not be new at all.  You may have been aware of global learning for sometime. It may have happened to you already.

For me, this phenomenon was new. 

Global learning happened slowly. So slowly that I didn't even notice at first.  Until one day, BANG, global learning was just there. Yes, as it did for me, global learning could happen to your learning space, too.  Perhaps your global learning journey may progress slower or faster, or take you to different stops along the way but you should be aware of it and know that it's happening to millions of people: from all parts of the world; among learners of all ages; from all different walks of life. 
Yes, global learning will surely happen to you.

For me, the stages of global learning progressed like this:

In week 1, I created the WeeklyEdTech. I nervously fumbled my way through the whole process, from setting up the blog, designing the space, and creating my introductory post.  I was more than a little on the edge. I looked around my dining room and felt like reinforcing the walls.

In Week 2, while exploring photo sharing, global learning unexpectedly began to creep into my dining room. I published something to the web (and not just for PD sessions either). My first real blog post, my first real audience and my first contribution to a collaborative space, Flickr. The result: a tiny hole formed in my dining room walls. Far too small to notice, this tiny hole seemed insignificant. 

Week 3... my first upload to an even larger sharing space, YouTube. Here, "people are watching 2 billion videos a day on YouTube and uploading hundreds of thousands of videos daily. In fact, every minute, 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube." (source: YouTube Fact Sheet
In week 2, global learning accelerated its pace with the creation of my first video sharing contribution: Squirrel Boogie. More than the video itself, my daughter's personal comments that "she would have been proud to have created that video", along with her subsequent actions of favouriting my video on her own Channel page created a much larger hole in my dining room walls. I smiled. I celebrated. I noticed. #highlight

Week 4:  I realized that I could learn, benefit and contribute to online collaborative learning while 'tagging' web sites that I value in my Delicious and Diigo social bookmarking libraries. I started to go to 'my community' of learners to find links. I started to actively share my own favourites with a new learning community... and didn't think twice about it. Afterward, I looked back and couldn't imagine how I had ever managed the old way!  The hole grew larger.  This time it was large enough that I was looking beyond my dining room and into others' windows, walls and learning spaces.

Week 5: I took my assignment out of my dining room and onto the street doing something I love, running, where I podcasted "on the run". It was the first time I started to think about creative and authentic purposes for publishing to the web.  It was also the first time, and only time, that I grew frustrated trying to post content to my blog. The  #lowlight of my learning, a long night, lots of learning and maybe some swearing... but I managed. The result: an even larger hole formed in my dining room. Large enough that I was stepping outside my comfortable dining room into the world outside.

Week 6:  I created a new learning community with my WikiRunClub. I connected authentically with friends and running partners.  The outside world from my prior week's learning was connecting with the outside world of someone else who shared a passion for my learning. When I posted my Wiki blog and realized how many views from other countries I received, I encountered the motivational power of a global audience #highlight. One of my walls collapsed.

Week 7-8:  Among many new tools, I created my first animated video with GoAnimate and posted it to YouTube!  The highlight wasn't the video itself, or the fact that three of my Facebook friends 'liked' it, but the fact that my 15 year old son enjoyed it so much that he shared it with his friends on Facebook. #highlight  I rejoiced! I also discovered Jog the Web and shared my Jogtheweb of Multimedia Tools for Schools on Twitter. Someone "retweeted" it! I felt like I had actually contributed to global learning (now 400 views!) A second wall had come down.

Week 9:  Throughout the previous 8 weeks, I realized how much I was enjoying reconnecting with friends and family. I started using my Facebook account more, and actually started sharing my life in a more public forum, slowly tearing down my private space. Perhaps this wasn't tearing down a new wall, but I wasn't hiding behind the other two either. I let myself become more visible.

Week 10:  Twitter. I didn't expect Twitter to open so many learning possibilities. I would say that the bulk of websites and blog posts I used in my learning came from through my Twitter community. Again, I allowed myself to become more visible and started to 'tweet' a little about myself and my learning. I mapped out my Twitter friends and had a big #AHA when I saw how my community of learners stretched outside of my own community. Most definitely, another wall... the third... had come down. By now, I realized that although I was still connected by one wall to my dining room, I was learning more beyond my own walls than within.

Week 11: Blogs and RSS. Wow! This week was the big #eye-opener. It was here that the last wall came down and I realized that my learning space no longer had walls. I realized that my conversations were now global ones when I looked back at how my readers stretched beyond my continent and most definitely, when I received feedback comments (see photo) on my blog from those writers who had most inspired my learning. #highlight 

Week 12:  That brings me here, today! 

I appreciated the opportunity to learn in this course through my own inquiry, blogging and classmates. I'll miss the learning community from classmates: Janet's incredible use of technology for learning in her blogs; Stacey, Brenda, Lissa and Jenn's positive comments on my blogs; discussions about books for pleasure (Mockingjay) and learning (Book Whisperer); openness to sharing websites, videos and learning with one another; conversations that brought me back to my first experiences as a computer user (and my experiences as a teacher where some of my classmates might have been my students:).  Likely for me, the biggest learning from my classmates was in our first discussion on reading in the Web 2.0 world as the readings and discussions started the reflection post.  There were so many new considerations. Pam's suggestions about teaching 'web features' stood out as one I'll use immediately.

When I look back at the past three months, I now understand that more than learning about Web 2.0 tools, this course was about becoming a learner in a Web 2.0 world. I realize that I have truly changed as a learner #AHA.  No longer do I see myself as a technologically proficient user and reader of the web. Instead, I have learned how to be a technologically proficient reader AND writer, a true learner AND contributor in the Read/Write Web. I have learned to be a 21st Century learner. The power of global learning.

Of all my learning, that is the one 'tool' I will leave and go away to share with my colleagues: the power of 'writing' in the Web 2.0 world and contributing to a much larger global understanding. In my mind, the tools to achieve this larger goal are many and varied. I see strength in writing blogs for professional or student learning, wikis for sharing and collaborating, screencasts and screencaptures for showing understanding, creating Voicethreads for assessing... (OK, if I have to choose one this would be the one. I love Voicethread and this will likely be the first thing I will try with students and colleagues on my return to work next fall. I love the simplicity of the tool. The 'faceless' entry point that contributes to the Write web in a safe way). Regardless of the tool, I learned there are powerful ways to engage our students (and teachers!) in the Read/Write web.  I felt that I developed knowledge and skill in many that will carry forward.

Going forward with my global learning journey:

"Libraries as powerful and engaging places in the lives of students do not happen by chance or force" (Todd, 2006)

I think this quote from Dr. Ross Todd rings true for many settings and learners:
  • Substitute the word 'libraries' with classrooms, staffroom or schools.
  • Substitute the word 'students' for teachers, adults
As I move forward in my global learning as a reader, writer, contributor of the Read/Write web, I will keep Dr. Todd's words in mind. 

I won't take chances: I need to stay actively involved in learning by reading, writing and contributing to the Read/Write web; I need to look beyond my four walls to learn; I need to be an engaged learner; I need to model and demonstrate the learning I desire for those I work with (adults and children); I need to establish relationships to build on teacher and student learning opportunities; I need to provide experiences for students and teachers to learn about global learning.

I also can't force. I'll look for opportunities to support learning through demonstrating, leading and teaching providing that I have knowledge myself. Not just knowledge of the tools, but of my new understanding of learning.   

 My plans are definitely to continue this blog. I plan to highlight a new web 2.0 tool every week (just in a paired down way). So stay tuned. But for now, as this course is coming to an end, I am off to see and learn in the big world... but in real life this time.  A well deserved rest aboard my parents' boat in Panama.  See you soon.  Hasta luego!


Todd, R. (2006). From learning to read to reading to learn: School libraries, literacy and guided inquiry. International Association of School Librarianship. Selected Papers from the ... Annual Conference. 1-18. Retrieved from