Saturday 1 November 2014

Connected & Connecting People... Reflection on #CENZ14

Participating in Connected Educator Month NZ has provoked a lot of sharing, learning and wondering! 

During the month of October, I have made visible contributions online  and shared my learning in the following ways (not all relevant to 'pledged events'):

Through @vanschaijik virtual TeachMeetNZ presentation:

Presentations at ULearn14
Notice, both of these presentations have further links to shared google docs. The SOLO one was VERY well utilised & contributed to during the presentation and attended by Pam Hook @arti_choke

This is a collection of the tweets shared by the wonderful group of educators who joined the breakout at #ULearn14. Thanks Pam for collating.

Pam's SOLO Taxonomy Early Years Pinterest Board has had a few extra pins contributed by my learners and I during October

The #EdbookNZ project, I contributed to as a critical / 'kind and helpful' friend for @vanschaijik. _ The result - an awesome collection of wonderings by warm, connected, knowledgeable people.

And, then there is Twitter; 'Hi, I'm @bridgetcasse and I love being connected online'! 

But being 'Connected' to me isn't black and white - it's quite a grey area - I see connections in so many ways! 

To my learning and wondering...
There is no possible way we can really think 'big', without considering small. It is indeed all the small steps especially when taken together that can lead to something quite remarkable. Slow IS ok - and yes, this is completely the opposite to what I was told at a large corporate conference I attended earlier in the year, where I must say, as connected as we all were - I felt a disconnect. But the defining moments of that conference for me were:
1.Over lunch with Mahsa @Mahsabanoo discussing how she is actively working to encourage young women to engage in computer science and technology. I still hope to attend her workshop later this year. 
2.Listening to Karen @virtuallykaren feeling excited by her effort and energy with her planning for CENZ14. These two inspiring people were thinking big, and 'making it happen' one step at a time. 

I've had great intrigue in that term 'Connected'. It's a fascinating label I think. 
Labels can help us feel connected, they generate excitement as we strive to belong and identify. Large gestures might be made, buying flash new furniture, knocking down walls, building new ones, securing access to 1:1 devices... I once got a buzz cut... Didn't need to - know that now!  ;)

I wonder... Connected Educator, Modern Learner in a Modern Learning Environment, Flipped Educator, 21C Learner... Is any one of these as important as being a kind, thoughtful citizen of our global family? Is that the greatest kind of 'connected'? 

After a few short, 'kindly disruptive' ;) words from Pam (and a really good coffee) early in October, I made a personal resolve. I sought to make these virtual connections more real during the valuable face to face time at ULearn14. Look up, say "Hi" and smile! And yep - as the saying goes, the world (well mostly!) is smiling back. :-) Reflection for ULearn14 

AND I still tried to tweet a lot of my learning, because I know how much I appreciated attending virtually as I was laid up in bed last year recovering from an accident. My PLN, though many won't know it, helped me remain and feel connected, and that is something I can pay back by paying forward. Connecting with self is also hugely important.

I observed with interest, early in Connected Ed Month, as a large part of this wonderful city I reside in was forced to 'disconnect' - the power went out. When stories emerged of people needing to take 'refuge' in hotels, or who were faced with the challenge of not being able to navigate their way around electric gates, I wondered, is it time that we need to make being able to connect with, through AND beyond the screens equally visible? I appreciated a tweet from @vanschaijik during this power outage of her cooking a full breakfast for her family over a small gas cooker. I thought, to me, that encapsulated 'connected' so well. Technology and tools - traditional and modern - check, people who care about each other - check, nourishment - check. Knowing how to combine all elements - priceless. Sonya - very deserving of the 'Queen of Connected' title! :-)

I really enjoy that at Edendale Primary School, learning from, for and with our land is such an important part of our curriculum; teaching and recognising Kaitiakitanga - I think this is connected too. We proudly identify as the first Eco-School in NZ and as a Garden To Table school and we are looking forward to contributing towards the One Planet Picnic Project soon. 

When I arrived home from ULearn14, I came across this amazing connected project happening in Bangladesh through my connection with @EcoSchoolsInt 
So I wondered... What if we streamed these fabulous people into our auditoriums? Keynotes? No need to fly them over - they are connected...
Later in the month, a young teenager was killed on the train tracks in Te Kuiti. I wonder, why wasn't the breakout presented by Newmarket School@ginnynz01 presenting a new Tracksafe resource more widely attended? Trains, roads, air and sea connect people. They are also spaces where our global family members are killed. 

I wonder, what might result from a 'trade hall' space if it were filled (ok - next step, just one corner?) with questions about, and images that represent the wicked problems existent in this country, and in this world of ours and simply invited discussion about the kids we teach? How are we making big problems accessible and visible for our learners? How are we enabling them with the tools necessary for them to solve what we cannot solve ourselves nor even predict? What if the focus remained on people instead of products - claiming to 'revolutionise and redefine' while offering 'free' lollies in exchange for my contact details? Connecting? I guess it still is... But what if I assess it using my 'grey' understanding of what it might be and with SOLO Taxonomy...? 

Taking part in connected educator month has allowed me to create more virtual connections and move beyond virtual with some of those I already had. I love that. From talking with and listening to many of my 'virtual' friends at ULearn14, conversing with people in GHOs, engaging in chats with people and listening to them sharing their learning, I know a little more about these people and many of them know a little more about me. It is the relationships between the people who have participated in #CENZ14 that has made October so meaningful. I can't wait to learn more from and with these wonderful people. October was but a beginning.

So Connected Educator... Am I one? Let's see...

Educator - my 21 five year old learners will surely attest to this. 
Connected - I still honestly am not sure what this means for me. It's ok - questions are more important than having all the answers. Maybe I will ask those little learners of mine what they think...

There are so many labels that I could identify with. But my favourite one - and the only one I am completely comfortable with, is learner. 


  1. Hey Bridget, great to see your visible thinking via your blog. I think one of the challenges too with connected is which tool to use. I love twitter but think I need to make a better effort too with other social media to ensure I am connecting with a diverse range of educators. I know from my travels that twitter is not the only platform that educators use.

    1. Thank you - I shall be continuing to learn from your very knowledgeable lead with this, Sonya! :)

  2. I share your ambivalence and even distrust of these terms like "connected" that privilege the machine over what it is to be human (machine metaphors) - imputing human qualities to things that are not human (bring on George Lakoff and "Metaphors we live by")

    The MACHINE metaphor gives us a conception of the mind as have an on-off state, a level of efficiency, a productive capacity, an internal mechanism, a source of energy, and an operating condition. (p.28 Lakoff and Johnson 1980)

    How do I (educator) connect with the other (another complex human person)?

    The dictionary suggests I might connect with you as: A hose connects to the sprinkler / A cable connects to the battery. / A hallway connects the two rooms./ A major highway connects the two towns./ A common theme connects the stories./ The two bones connect at the elbow. / The hose connects easily to the sprinkler./ The bedroom connects to the kitchen./ I connected you with that group of people/ Evidence connects the company directly to the scandal.

    It seems the word "connect" is a metaphor that betrays what it is to be human

    I commented on something similar on a post by Dr Wendy Kofoed - it is is also relevant here

    1. My learners and I had a moment that triggered further consideration of this too, just last week as we were analysing hexagons, one boy said - 'but they all connect because they're all about learning'. I couldn't disagree! :-)
      I think I am beginning to have a love/loathe relationship with the word.
      Your comment on Dr Wendy Kofoed's post about 'meeting' resonates. A 'meeting' might be a brief encounter in a shop, on the street, preceded, succeeded or solely through an online tool; meeting of minds and hearts can happen in many ways and some stick - some don't. Perhaps more important, is being present,mindful and aware, wherever you choose to be, or find yourself at a particular moment... I don't want to 'silence through collaborating and connecting', I want to ask questions and really listen to those who answer.

  3. Making and creating meaning with silence - in my experience often deeper and more meaningful than a froth of text, an inundation of voices or a torrent of visual images