Navigating through openness…where will networking on and offline take me?!

As an active participant in social media, meaning I facebook, I twitter, I instagram, I snapchat, I stalk (sadly, yes) and I network! The world wide web is a fun, exciting and more importantly resourceful tool for everyone! Yes, everyone, from my own toddler children, to my middle school-aged students, to me and to my grandmother! The internet is the perfect example of an open network. All users, including the contributors to the webinar called, Classrooms as Community Hubs: Developing Open Digital Networks, discuss the benefits of becoming openly networked and share their personal experiences. For example, several students express their interest and eagerness to participate online because they are learning beyond the four walls. They are contributing to platforms, with an abundant amount of time. They are finding learners just like them across the world. They are navigating this idea of openness and utilizing their background knowledge of things to make their learning even more open. We find what we are looking for there. We have access to it. It’s a public space FILLED with ideas, questions, concerns, documentation and so much more. There are no barriers. It’s open. And it’s for us!  But, I do raise one question…how do we encourage our students to jump in to the world of openness and make it relevant to their learning and not just for social reasons?

Danah Boyd, the author of It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, mentions that teens are passionate about finding their place in society (p. 8). I have to agree. My students have opinions, relevant and important opinions. They have ideas, creative and innovative ideas. They are also children and struggle to make their opinions matter. Social media is a fantastic outlet for these issues as long as it is used in a safe way. Facebook and Twitter give our students their outlet, these services promote youth to become members of the public. Boyd mentions four contributions to open networks that create new opportunities and challenges: persistence, visibility, spreadability and searchability (p. 11). By staying persistent and making our opinions and voices visible on the internet, we are creating opportunities to reach learners and teachers just like us across the world and then become a part of their networks that can eventually answer our inquiries and help us create!

Reflection has always been a big part of my career. I have always aimed to create what is best for my students. I am able to adapt and reinvent because I reflect. I observe what is and is not working for them and for me. Becoming openly-networked helps me find our teachers that are just like me, reflectors. Just like Bud Hunt, from Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom, I have improved as a teacher and as a learner by reading  about and writing to teachers who are posting about what is happening in the classroom and what they want to be happening in the classroom (p. 71). I am constantly seeking resources for teaching, mothering, graduate school and hobbies. My searches are endless because there is so much to connect to. And my searches are done in school and at home and basically anywhere I go!

I have been teaching for eight years. Throughout my educational journey, I have met teachers who are willing to collaborate and share and reflect together and at the same time I have encountered some who are not open to being open. “To be open isn’t necessarily to reveal everything to everyone. Open classrooms aren’t places where every moment of activity is shared with anyone who wants to see it. There aren’t video cameras recording and distributing every moment of the learning experience. Thoughtful teachers choose intentionally what, when, and how they share what they are curious about and what demands their students’ attention” (p.72). I think this is so important. If we share what truly challenges us and pushes us to create for our students then we are destined to find answers or ideas from others with similar experiences.

“Openly networked experiences are about how and where and when we can find each other and connect. While certainly the technology of our age makes it easier than ever before to connect, connected learning experiences do not require the Internet or digital media to be pure and true connected learning experiences: (p. 72)

“How, I ask, can you help others to see into your conversations and work? To be an openly networked teacher, you must create spaces, opportunities, and experiences for others to follow along in your process” (p. 73).

These two quotes lead me once again to my original inquiry question, Which one (or some) of my colleague(s) would be the most beneficial to connect with? While I am evolving with technology, I also consider myself to be traditional. I am drawn to these two quotes because while I do follow some colleagues online, there are also so many that I want to connect and network with offline. This drive to connect with colleagues (on and offline) brings me to my “small move,” which I explain here in my iMovie!

Boyd, D. (2014). It’s Complicated. The Social Lives of Networked Teens. Yale University Press. Retrieved from: http://www.danah.org/books/ItsComplicated.pdf.

Hunt, B. (2014). Openly Networked. In A. Garcia (Ed.), Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom (pp. 71-86). Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. Retrieved from http://dmlhub.net/wp-content/uploads/files/teaching-in-the-CL-classroom.pdf

 

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