3 February 2013

Give and take

"You must leave digital footprints so people know you’re treading among them and part of the community."

The final part of Professional Learning in the Digital Age concerns contribution and how it is our duty to give as much as we take from our Personal Learning Networks (PLN), if not more. We all have something to give, we all have something to share - whether it is anecdote or expertise - and we can all learn from each other.

Kristen Swanson advocates multi-layered contribution ranging from Tweeting (or even more basically, Re-Tweeting) to speaking at conferences. I think I can narrow my contributions to:-

  • Tweeting 
  • Blogging
  • Collaborative planning at work
  • Leading or presenting PL sessions at school
  • Speaking at a conference

Tweeting is easiest - stuff just comes to me and I Tweet and ReTweet what I think might be useful to others. I also Tweet quotes from books I read via my Kindle and links I stumble across from the serendipitous pathways surfing often results in. Twitter is by far the fastest way to gain knowledge and build a PLN; just make sure you have an effective way of curating all your favourite and most useful finds; Pearltrees is a favourite of mine.

Blogging takes more time and is more involved but personally, I find the process cathartic. I can see how some people may find blogging harder but I do suggest everyone try. My post Bare your Soul: Reflecting and Sharing explores this in more detail. If you are still not ready to write full posts of your own, commenting on others' Blog posts is an easy way to contribute - use Google Reader or Flipboard to manage your subscriptions. I really recommend you try Flipboard. Google Reader, and therefore all your subscriptions, can be added to Flipboard - along with hashtag feeds, Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, or other sources you want to collect together in one easy place. Flipboard is like my morning newspaper; all the places I read regularly are delivered up to me in one easy app, with a lot of the noise of webpages removed in the process. Flipboard is available for free from the App Store and on Google Play. Start reading - start contributing.

Collaborative planning and sharing at work is probably something we all do; it is important to share and celebrate successes and failures and where possible, team up. I recently planned and delivered a really successful lesson on organising ideas in writing with a colleague in Grade 2. We team taught the lesson with my Grade 8s and then paired them up for some peer assessment. My learners wrote some great little Blog reflections about it and really got a lot out of it. Allowing them to share and contribute to the learning of others really impacted on their own learning. More links between primary and secondary is something I would like to do more of as it was highly beneficial for both teachers and learners.

The last two I personally find the most difficult; though, as is ever the case when we challenge ourselves, these are the things we become most proud of. I have an utter dread of speaking in front of my peers, but leading or presenting at PL sessions at school, as well presenting as the the Hands on Literacy Conference Singapore 2012, (see my post Hands On: Bring it On) has gone some way towards building my confidence and I am pleased that I push myself to do things that really challenge me - as this is only what I ask my learners to do everyday. The feedback I receive following my presentations really help me to see that my getting out there and setting aside my fears to share what I have experienced, learned or tried IS appreciated and IS beneficial to others. Just as I gain from hearing other people's experiences, so others appreciate hearing mine. And this is what 'contribution' is all about.

Go. Get out there. Tread softly among the others educators and leaders who are learning and sharing. Create a digital footprint and follow a path - or go off and start your own. Let the community know you are there and try to give as much as you take.

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