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More tech PD: Sharing in the internet era, and how do we make it better?

June 29, 2011

Today I helped to lead a professional development session on technology on the theme: Harnessing the Wisdom of the Crowd, Sharing in the Internet Era.

We started our session by differentiating our users into two groups, and used the following powerpoint to help attendees decide which group was best for them, and told each participant that they should feel free to switch between groups as they saw fit.

This turned out to be a great idea, as we had members from each group praise the fast/slow pace as perfect for them.

As is common now with most intro to twitter professional development sessions, we had a hashtag (#wmshtc), and got a some great participation from teachers at our school who weren’t in our session, and even others across the country.

Here’s the handout from the session:

View this document on Scribd

In the session I taught, we moved from twitter to talking about google docs (and its awesome new commenting features) and blogging, while trying to emphasize the overall point of the workshop—sharing your ideas with the world pays huge dividends.

But I keep coming back to a haunting comment thread from Dan Meyer’s recent blog post highlighting my recent Mushy Love Ode to my Online PLC.

There are, undoubtedly, benefits to blogging that are completely independent of the size of your audience. And you can participate in the conversation by commenting on the blogs of the big boys and gals. But I think it’s a mistake to sell blogging on the feedback you can get for your ideas. Because to get that kind of feedback, blogging isn’t enough. You have to be a really, really good blogger.

Followed up by @gasstationwithoutpumps

5 gasstationwithoutpumps
@MBP, the big-name bloggers get the most feedback, but even small bloggers get some, as long as they make some effort to let other people know about their blog. But it is true that few readers comment—my estimate is about 2% of page views result in comments—so having a large readership is a prerequisite to having a conversation in the comments.

and then Dan’s wise and pithy observation:

gasstation: so having a large readership is a prerequisite to having a conversation in the comments.
Everyone starts with zero, right?

Dan is right, and I have always felt that one of the main benefits I get from blogging is simply in writing down my ideas, shepherding them through the editing process, and then reflecting back on them days, months or years later, even if you don’t get a single comment.

But I still think of the teachers in my workshop today, or the physics teachers New Physics Modeler spoke to today about the benefits of twitter and blogging. What happens when they leap out into the world of blogging and twitter and don’t necessarily get the instant rush of connecting with a community extraordinary colleagues? And what are my obligations as a member of that community to help prevent this?

I think it requires more than just giving another rah-rah Twitter presentation and expecting that to somehow make everyone adopt it as wonder-tron PLN generator.

This makes me think back to what pulled me into the conversation, and I think it must have been Frank Noschese. I think he must have been one of the 134 people in august to view my blog back in the month it started and invite me into the conversation by tweeting out recommendations of my posts, adding me to his twitter lists, and generally welcoming me as a colleague. This is something I want to try to do more.

A quick technical note and question: The Kodak Zi-8 with a 16 GB card totally rocks these long recording sessions—and it uploads the full files to vimeo in under an hour, so I can have a blog post up about the session that afternoon. My only problem is the mic on the camera isn’t the greatest, but I have a 1/8in mic jack to work with, so I’m thinking about getting a Lavalier Mic, as well as an external mic that could pic up the whole room. Any suggestions?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 29, 2011 8:39 pm

    I totally agree. I don’t blog to start a conversation. Mainly to share cool things I found or reflect on me teaching. I find I learn a lot about myself when I do a reflective blog post. I really need to do them more often.

    On a technical note. You might try the Yeti microphone by Blue. I’ve not tried it, but I’ve heard good things about it. It’s usb, so you’d have to sync it with the video, but it is omnidirectional. You could also try Levelator It tries to bring all the audio to the same level. You’d have to extract the audio, then process it and put it back in to the video though.

  2. July 2, 2011 5:00 pm

    I’ll second Steve here. It wasn’t until I started writing for myself that I began to enjoy the process. Just writing down my ideas is a helpful way to work through them, plus it establishes a record of my progress as a teacher. I’m looking forward to reviewing early posts in five years or so. Thanks for the encouragement with the retweets and comments.


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