Staying Grounded While Highly Wired

While that was also the title of my recent article for the latest WOW2 newsletter, it very much captured the essence of my life in the last few weeks. Aging parents with health concerns, choices about lifestyle and a new job, and managing teenagers at various stages and milestones have all kept me grounded in the day-to-day life of “offline” activities.

In the midst of that, I have tried to keep up with my blog and online reading, as well as participation in active discussions and communities. It was my great pleasure to act as a judge recently in the FlatPlanet wiki Project, another wonderful global exchange. I missed the Second Life Best Practices Conference entirely due to other commitments and just plain need for refreshment and time off. This week’s Future of Education Conference has also kept me on my toes and I have been able to catch a few of the presentations. Cheri Toledo did a great job today at her presentation quite wittily called The Future of Teacher Education: Herding Cats and Moving Targets.

It is difficult to be leaving one job situation (esp. high school teaching) while very much preoccupied with thoughts of a very different situation that awaits me at LEARN. My headspace is in two places at once and this can result in a certain amount of cognitive overstimulation!

Many times this past year, I have felt that I was just not making a difference with influencing other educators (especially my own colleagues) in spite of all the new approaches and paradigms I was experimenting with in my teaching practices. Yes, I knew for certain my students were benefiting – and that was very gratifying, but I felt so “out there” compared to my colleagues. It can be a very lonely feeling. Early adopters are especially prone to this – I have heard this again and again from my online buddies.

So, I was especially pleased that in these last few weeks I have witnessed two of my favourite mentors take up the practice of blogging. This, to me, is big, is HUGE. Reuven Werber has been my collaborating partner faithfully for four years now and he has SO much wisdom and perspective to share. I have often told him he should be blogging his ideas, but he claims no time. It is so wonderful to see him finally sharing his important thoughts with other educators in Classroom2.0.ning. Social networks like Ning offer this important sense of community of belongingness that is necessary for so many of us.

I am particularly charmed to see my friend and new colleague, Vince Jansen, take up blogging. Vince came to my attention a few years ago when he was providing professional development to other IT teachers in the MontrĂ©al area. For the past year, we have been communicating and even collaborating on several projects. Because he has always lived in a rural setting, he has chosen an … ahem… farm theme for his blog, Views from the Haystack. It kinda works…. except that part about me and pitchfork is just NOT TRUE! I am not sure how I feel about being associated with tools with prongs at the end! He will be a great addition to the edublogosphere and I have told him many times he should be blogging his great ideas and wisdom to a global audience!

WOW2 continues to canter along a good pace (this farm theme has provided a bit of fodder, hah hah) and we welcome Chris Craft tonight and Bernie Dodge (of WebQuest fame) next week. NECC 2007 will be upon us in no time at all – this week I confirmed my intention to blog the conference again this year. With three presentations at NECC, and other such engagements, I am beginning to wonder if sleep will be at all possible, but boy! am I looking forward to meeting so many of you!

5 thoughts on “Staying Grounded While Highly Wired

  1. I read your article with great interest. Given the fact that you have made reference to my blog was an even greater, yet welcome surprise. Let me set the record straight, using the pitchfork metaphor was intended as a compliment, as your encouragement and support led me to take the risk and share my views to the world. I wish I had teachers like you when I was a classroom practitioner, however I am extremely fortunate to be joining you at LEARN and perhaps, we can provide the framework for encouraging others to do the same.

    Your energy, enthusiasm and dedication to student learning is exemplary, your involvement and contribution to the constructs and use of web2.0 learning is a model we can actively learn from. It is a fine balance between your passion and the many facets in our daily life. I wish you the best for the end of the school year and success in your transition to your new leadership role.

  2. I can feel you frustration with the uptake by teachers (I wish I could tap into your enrgyas well!). It is an even greater uphill battle at the higher ed level – especially if you are support as I am (educational technologist) and unable to diretcly drive the exemplary applications. My role is to support and sugest, but I do my share of prodding, provoking and reseraching. Sometimes I hanker going back to the classroom (taught high school in Toronto) but the years weigh heavy, and the drop in pay would kill my mortgage.

    We must have passed virtual paths at the Future of ed conference – another great community event driven by U Manitoba and Goerge S. I wish you the best as you exit the classroom for a forum that MAY give you the chance to push the envelope, heck even rip it open so that so much more can happen with social software in the classroom and beyond.

  3. Hi Sharon,

    It was so nice to have you in the presentation chat – very comforting to know someone in a virtual presentation. And thank you for the kind words.

    I want to jump on board the “am I really making a difference?” train with you. As one of only a handful of college faculty at my school who are embracing web 2.0 tools, it is a lonely place to be – always getting those wrinkled eyebrow responses to my explanations of what I’m doing with my students … and the workshops we’re provided … deep sigh. Joining in on the WOW2.0 webcasts has been a shot of adrenaline in my professional arm – it’s fun to have new friends who see things so similarly.

    I am happy to report that my masters and doctoral students are running with what I’m teaching. And I am planning on indoctrinating my undergrads next year! I will be reporting about my masters students’ projects – all based on using blogs, wikis, and/or podcasts with their K-8 students – in my blog in the next few months. Hopefully, I’ll even be able to show some examples. And last, I’m going to be interviewing them in preparation for the K-12 Online Conference … that is if my proposal is accepted. :-)

    So, Sharon, all this to say that you have had a great impact on me through WOW2.0 – thank you! Thanks for hanging with us outliers … we are the initial tail of that bell curve.

    I look forward to hearing about your new job and all the new teachers and administrators you are influencing.

    Thanks again,
    Cheri

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