1. This past year has taught me to continue to consume like crazy AND continue to freely share, even when everything inside of me screams against it. This year has taught me that there are and will continue to be many times that others won't get it, or simply won't care about the radical ways technology is changing everything, especially education. When I feel like clutching new knowledge or insights tightly to my chest and not freely sharing, is actually the time to do the reverse. Thus my adoption of Guy Kawasaki's motto via Garr Reynold's blog, "Eat like a bird,and poop like an elephant". You've got to stop and think about this one - birds actually eat LOTS - sometimes half their body weight daily. And elephants? Well, 165 lbs. on average per day comes out the other end. As Guy puts it...
In other words, (1) get out there, meet people, press the flesh, consume knowledge like crazy, attend seminars, etc. (birds eat a lot!). And (2) spread the knowledge, information, and contacts that you gained around, share of your time and talent (elephants are good at...well you know)."(photo courtesy of yasuhisa's photostream, creative commons license - http://www.flickr.com/photos/yhassy/2580284679/)
Stephen Downes puts it this way (#4. Share) ...
When you share, people are more willing to share with you. In a networked world, this gives you access to more than you could ever produce or buy by yourself. By sharing, you increase your own capacity, which increases your marketability."2. One of my biggest achievements in 2008 was presenting two blogging webinars for ISTE. That involved just "a little stress"; after I agreed to do the presentations, I discovered David Warlick had been the presenter of the beginner's webinar the year before. A big "AHA!" moment occurred after each - the realization I did it! I felt great about the feedback received and was encouraged to step out and do more! There's something really rewarding about getting others started on their journey down the road to Web 2.0. :)
4. Here's a not-so-pleasant aha moment (unpleasant a-ha moments get only lowercase expression without the exclamation point). There are huge issues right now with finding a free, appropriate, reliable and easy to use platform for teachers/students to learn blogging on. "Free" is a relative word in the world of Web 2.0 (yes, I'm referring to the Edublogs advertising fiasco this past semester). It's crucial to get a good start with students on a solid platform that isn't going to cause you all kinds of grief along the way (hardware slowness, usability issues, login hassles , inline ads, inappropriate links (referring to Blogger here), etc). I only wish more districts would understand the need for setting up WordPress MU for teacher and student use. This dilemma is so strange to me, considering that we are 11 years into blogging. Compounding this are issues of Internet safety, filtering, district vs. teacher control and the relentless speed of change. If we have to "roll our own" doesn't this set us back a good bit (as if a decade + isn't daunting enough)? Blogging is supposed to be simple; having to create and maintain blogs for students ourselves as teachers adds considerable difficulty to the learning curve for all involved.
5. People love compiled resources in blog posts. I know I appreciate them, too. I think this speaks volumes about how hard and laborious it still is to distill/sift info on the Web.
6. Another lowercase aha moment. New ideas must be clearly marketed for quicker adoption and acceptance. I've recently rewritten my Web 2.0 course description and am excited to see if this helps; I also have a few other ideas up my sleeve but it's not time to implement or divulge. We shall soon see, as registration is just around the corner. Along with this, I've learned it's okay to be occasionally demoralized with this thing we call Web 2.0 in education. It causes some good self-reflection.
7. Embedding video in blogs is powerful. I know I've come across some very powerful clips this year that have inspired me to become a better teacher, that have made me look at life totally differently, and that have given me new insights to where we're headed with this new medium called the read/write web. Students get this, too, and enjoy using these in their posts to drive points home visually. I think we sell this medium short if we do not teach embedding to blogging students. Yes, blogging is about writing, but most importantly, about communicating, and embedded video enhances communication. Without a doubt, learning occurs in different modalities. To learn more, see this series of posts titled "Kicking It Up a Notch".
8. Discovered that my blog posts can be passionate, but can still miss the mark. In retrospect, I missed much of what Obama was doing with this new medium , and he did so brilliantly. Perhaps my own demographics caused my blindness (a confession - I'm a Republican). I think I was right about McCain not really using this tool to his advantage, but I missed Obama's stealthy use of it. That's okay, because it's caused me to respect him all the more. In the end, Friedman was right -- spot on. A political commentator I'm not, but I am intrigued by the grass roots power that technology and social networking wield.
9. Discovered at first that I really was motivated by a ClustrMap on my blog. Early this fall it quit working. Not long after I started wondering if it maybe hadn't become a "vanity widget" that I could do without, something that encouraged "sidebar envy". I still believe widgets like this have a place (especially for encouraging young blog writers), but am feeling that I'm ready to go beyond the red dots. Now to ponder whether I should keep Feedjit. I'll always have the Google Analytics, but, because it's harder to access, I don't look too often at it. Blogging motives. Now that's a whole blog unto itself, isn't it. No one ever talks much about this, but maybe there is a blogging phase we all must conquer called "Will blog for red dots." ;)
10. Drum roll, please. I have come to realize that I've grown more professionally this past year than in all my 18 years combined as a teacher. Blogging and commenting have a lot to do with it. Social networking has a lot to do with it (even though I sometimes feel like Twitter is somewhat akin to toddlers engaging in parallel play). Constructive learning and connectivity has tons to do with it. It's a great feeling to know I am in charge of my own professional learning and development. Oddly, it creates a strong craving for more. I think that's a good thing. Though I came across these lines nearly a year ago, the strong impact of David Warlick's words remains.
"I’ve claimed my own frustration at teachers who ask, “But who’s going to teach me how to do that?” Sadly, we are a generation who was taught how to be taught — not how to teach ourselves. It’s one of the many reasons why the experiences that our children have in the classroom must become much more self-directed, relevant, and rich. They/we need to learn to teach ourselves. Teachers shouldn’t need professional development. They should be saying, hey, I’m going to teach myself how to do that this weekend. It’s about life long learning. Not about a life of being taught."