Which came first, the chicken or the egg? A Model for Change

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©Debra Solomon granted permission to use image on this blog. Original found here.

When I first started the ETMOOC adventure, one question I was asking was, “Can I have some new glasses, please?”  I knew I wanted to expose myself to new ways of thinking and grow in my ability to communicate, share, and learn from others online. I had also been thinking a lot about how to help others transform the way they view the importance of connecting with others and building relationships, both online and face-to-face. ETMOOC has helped me to see and experience the power of my online connections and how social media can play an important role in developing/fostering them. The recent webinars and blog posts by those in the ETMOOC community begged the question, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” Huh? Where did that come from? Let me explain.

It’s the classic question referring to the circular cause and effect relationship between at least two different things. This is important as we look to promote change in not only how we SEE (paradigm shift), but how we BEHAVE (actions) and SPEAK (language).  So the question is, what comes first, the paradigm shift or actions or words? Most would say we have to change the way we see things before our behavior or speech will change. But is that really the case?

While educational leader/consultant George Couros (@gcouros) was speaking about networked educational leadership (see presentation here) in a recent webinar for ETMOOC, he focused on the role social media can play in leadership and developing relationships/culture in the school setting. He addressed how we can lead/influence others and create change, and the role character and credibility (trust, integrity) play in that process. As he shared his ideas and experiences, he made a couple of statements that grabbed my attention.

The first statement was “Covey (Stephen) says that great leaders have great character and credibility.” I’m a huge fan of both Stephen R. Covey (Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) and his son Stephen M. Covey (The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Change Everything). When I was working for a nonprofit doing social work/counseling, our staff read and practiced the principles in the Seven Habits book. Our focus was on strengthening relationships through character and credibility. We developed core values and a mission statement that we worked to live out as an organization. And our mission wasn’t about serving ourselves. It was sharing ourselves. We experienced not only a lot of growth personally, but also in our organization and our connections with those we served.  It connected us together in new ways as we shared a new paradigm, new behaviors, and new words. As George C. was speaking, I was remembering back to those experiences.

Next, George C. went on to say that these qualities of character (integrity) and credibility (trust) can be amplified through social media. How we speak in social media says something about who we are, what we know, and what we care about. It’s not just about pushing out information. That’s not where community or influence comes from. Being involved in the social media environment gives us a place to reveal ourselves in relationship. Sharing what we’re doing, what we know and think about (authentically), what we’re passionate about, can have a powerful influence on those around us.  We have the opportunity to authentically share ourselves with others in a way that would not have been possible just a few years ago.

“Social media wasn’t growing like gangbusters simply because Mark Zuckerberg built a better widget. It was growing because as human beings, we all have a deep connection to openness and authenticity.” (Notter and Grant, 2011). We all want trust in our relationships. We all desire to be heard and valued. And that has been the experience for many of us during these first few weeks as we’ve joined together in community and developed some beginning bonds and a voice. But speaking/showing ourselves through social media is only one dimension. If it doesn’t translate to our face-to-face relationships, something is missing. George shared how his life online spurred him on to better face-to-face relationships, which in turn influences his online relationships.

I’m sure that one of the goals of those leading ETMOOC is that we would experience some paradigm shifts, that is, see things differently than before. But George C., his brother Alec Couros (@courosa), and the other ETMOOC leaders have clearly shared a desire to see us BEHAVE and SPEAK in a way that will help us build strong, trusting, connected relationships with students, colleagues, and other members in our sphere of influence. But where does it start for us? Stephen M. Covey, in his book, “The Speed of Trust,” helps us answer the question, “What comes first?”

The paradigm shift is only ONE of three important dimensions. “Clearly, the three dimensions are interdependent, and whenever you effect a change in one dimension, you effect change in all three.”  For this reason, Covey believes that we must focus on all three dimensions – seeing, speaking, and behaving, so that we have not only the paradigms, but also the words (language) and behaviors (actions) that establish and grow trust.” (Speed of Trust, 2006)

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Covey continues by saying that “…I am equally convinced that speaking and behaving differently can also have an enormous impact on the way you see and the results you get. The very act of serving someone, for example, can quickly cause you to see that person differently—even to feel love and compassion which you have not felt before. I call this a behavior shift— a shift in which our behaviors ultimately bring about a shift in the way we see the world. I am also convinced of the power of a language shift. The way we talk about things can create a shift in how we see and how we behave, as well as in how others see us.”

So as we continue this journey together, remember that our ETMOOC experience isn’t just about seeing things in a new way as we take in what others share. It is the words of encouragement to others as they share an idea. It builds trust and confidence in others. It is taking a risk to reveal ourselves authentically for others, so that they in turn will have the courage to do so. It builds credibility. In the process, we are changed and others benefit. We have the opportunity to influence others by our example and watch to see how they respond. That’s one of the things I appreciate about our ETMOOC. We are all at a different place in this journey. Change and connections to the community of learners may start with our thinking, our words, or our actions. It’s really how we connect to the experience.

For most of us, our learning communities are lagging behind in one or more of these areas in regards to connected learning. How will we respond? How will we approach influencing others to change? How can we connect with them to encourage them to change? For most of us, it will be in small ways, ways that do make a difference. Let’s use the strength of our character and credibility, with knowledge and skills, to make a difference. Because trusting relationships can change everything.

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Posted in Connected Learning, etmooc, Social Media, Teaching and Learning | 2 Comments

Scarcity in an Age of Abundance

Fruits and vegetables

http://www.flickr.com/photos/carol_moshier/3257912877/ – Carol Moshier on Flickr Some rights reserved.

This week has been characterized by an abundance of great teaching by the likes of Alec Couros (@courosa), Dean Shareski (@shareski), and Sue Waters (@suewaters). The Twitter feed has been rolling along and there has been an endless supply of blog posts to choose from. As part of the #ETMOOC community, there is no reason to expect scarcity, is there?

Let me share a story with you. It has been said that there was a travelling preacher who often began his talks with the following story, known as the “Allegory of the Long Spoons“:

“I once ascended to the firmaments. I first went to see Hell and the sight was horrifying. Row after row of tables were laden with platters of sumptuous food, yet the people seated around the tables were pale and emaciated, moaning in hunger. As I came closer, I understood their predicament.
“Every person held a full spoon, but both arms were splinted with wooden slats so he could not bend either elbow to bring the food to his mouth. It broke my heart to hear the tortured groans of these poor people as they held their food so near but could not consume it.
“Next I went to visit Heaven. I was surprised to see the same setting I had witnessed in Hell – row after row of long tables laden with food. But in contrast to Hell, the people here in Heaven were sitting contentedly talking with each other, obviously sated from their sumptuous meal.
“As I came closer, I was amazed to discover that here, too, each person had his arms splinted on wooden slats that prevented him from bending his elbows.” How, then, did they manage to eat?

Point #1: Those who ate did so by feeding each other. They saw there was plenty of food available and took the opportunity to use what they had been given (the long spoons in this allegory) to help nourish each other.  Those two things need to go together. In #ETMOOC, haven’t we felt the challenge and opportunity to feed and nourish each other’s growth and learning? The message is that learning isn’t just about us. We really do need each other. We must connect to information and others, and then construct knowledge individually and with each other as we share/partner in learning. Haven’t we seen the impact on our own learning and those around us this week through making CONNECTIONS?

Point #2: As I was listening to Alec Couros present “Introduction to Connected Learning“, the word scarcity came up. Kind of a funny word to come up in the middle of #ETMOOC, where participants are struggling to handle the abundance of information and connections available to them, don’t you think? So how does scarcity fit in here?

Alec discussed the transformations that have taken place for us to move from scarcity to abundance in information. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about it and our connectedness.  It took me back two years when I first started introducing the concept of Web 2.0 to educators in my county at a Web 2.0 Bootcamp, a partnership between CTAP and my county office of education.

A focus point was the concept that an abundance of information was available to educators and their students because of the social media revolution (presentation). A new pedagogy was evolving that included opening up this stream of information to students and students and helping them learn how to make connections with others to impact the learning process. How were we going to respond to these dynamic changes? For them, it was an eye-opening, foreign paradigm. Two and a half years later, I’m still asking the question, “How many of our students and teachers live in scarcity in spite of the abundance of information around them? Why?”

As I look at the culture of learning in our schools, it feels like not only is there scarcity in CONNECTIONS between students and teachers, but in the information available to students while at school (and I’m not just talking web filters). Why is that? Is it because many educators live in scarcity and don’t know how to leverage the world of information to create abundance in learning? Or are they not willing to open up the gates to the “food” available to students and to let them be part of that process of feeding themselves?  Maybe it’s because we are so stuck in the paradigm of testing and standards that students are put in the position of scarcity to meet arbitrary performance goals for them, regardless if it’s relevant to them or not. Certainly test scores haven’t relied on interpersonal connections or the wealth of information online to this point. No easy answers here. Just tough questions.

Alec Couros pointed out that Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown (@jseelybrown) talk about “a new culture of learning” in their book by the same title and how the environment and process of learning must change because the world we live in.  I would like to write more about that another time. I continue to see the need for a paradigm shift where students and educators learn to harvest plenty of food for all and nourish each other. Let’s throw off the bonds of scarcity and live in abundance.

Posted in Connected Learning, etmooc, Social Media | 8 Comments

Bits n’ Bytes – Putting the Pieces Together in #ETMOOC

I love doing jigsaw puzzles. I remember as a kid doing them with my grandfather and having a knack for it. I still have some in my house, you know, the ones with 1,000/1,500 pieces.  These days, I do most of them online.  Different shapes and colors and of course, subject matters/designs that only come together when the pieces are put together. This is one I did recently.

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This week in #ETMOOC, there has been a certain amount of anxiety people have had because like a jigsaw puzzle, the bits n’ bytes of #ETMOOC have been put on the table and are scattered all over the place. So many pieces, so many places to start. Most of us crave structure and the chaos of the pieces being scattered leaves us with a desire for them to come together in a meaningful way. That’s their purpose.

Usually, when I start a puzzle, I create a framework by doing the border of the puzzle. Next, I sort pieces by color or parts of the subject matter/design. Next, I begin the work of assembling the puzzle. So, you get the metaphor, right? This week was not about putting pieces together. It was about beginning to get a sense of the subject, being introduced to the different parts of the puzzle (people, bits n’ bytes of information, applications, etc.) and thinking about how to engage the puzzle. We’ve all been exploring how to do that and many have contributed to our understanding of how to begin the work and get a little more grounded in the process.

So, don’t fret. Let there be joy in the journey as you meet people from many places and backgrounds and read/see through the lens of their experience/curation. Also, I hope, like me, you will get more comfortable in your own skin (who you are), and see yourself as one of many pieces that make up the #ETMOOC community. It’s been a pleasure for me to be a part of others joy as they’ve engaged #ETMOOC. I’ve been reminded that no matter how small my contribution, it has its place not only in my experience, but in enriching the lives of others. Being reminded of that was worth the first week alone. Here is the video by Derek Sivers that really brought that home for me. (Obvious to You, Amazing to Others)

Posted in Connected Learning, etmooc | 12 Comments

Drum Roll Please….the Introduction!

Hello, all. It took me awhile to finish what you will see as “The Introduction: Glenn Hervieux, Sisqitman“. I used Linoit, which provides a canvas to put different elements on, including text, pictures, video, etc. It will give you a quick picture of where I’ve come, what I value, and some of the reasons why I chose to participate in the #ETMOOC course, along with so many of you. I hope it will help give more of a “face” to who I am as “Sisqitman”. It’s been really fun getting to watch videos and post about who you are and also read the tremendous responses to the Open Course concept and engaging in kind of a really organic, topics and people from many walks of life. I think the thing I’m working on the most right now is being myself and letting that be enough. It’s a battle, isn’t it, to express ourselves and remember that it’s not about us, but about what we are able to give to others and the impact we can make in so many ways.

Okay, so here are some things I’ve been thinking about that I want to work on this year and that I’m using the #ETMOOC to jump start in my life. Here are some key goals as I enter into this unique learning experience:

Goal #1: Engage The Conversation – the ETMOOC is a platform that encourages open learning – kind of an organic learning experience – loose structure & dynamic conversations and sharing – one path to connected learning & one where I can gauge my own learning. It gives us a chance to tell our story and hear from others.
Goal #2: Explore different topics of interest with others and encourage others in the process
Goal #3: Work at trying and integrating different platforms for The Conversation – Twitter, Google +, Blogs, Email, etc.
Goal #4: Take in, but give out: Ask the questions – How am I making my learning visible? How am I contributing to the learning of others? Work at building more reflection into my work and interaction with others – recording my thoughts & experiences in a blog & push out on Twitter. As Joe Dillon (@onewheeljoe) said, take advantage of “Remixing participant reflections to support my own.”
Goal #5: Work at handling the challenge of information overload – engaging Web 2.0 apps is like drinking from a fire hose – and doing it with skill so that it’s not overwhelming, but stimulating takes practice and patience. Let’s help each other drink well.
Goal #6: Having fun being myself. Jenny Ankenbauer ‏@jankenb2 shared, “An #etmooc is an amusement park. What do you feel like doing this visit & what will you save for the next?” For me, the first session with Alec Couros @courosa was a veritable ocean of chaotic fun. And it’s been fun to just get into the flow of #ETMOOC. I’ve felt many different emotions and tried to be transparent in a healthy way. I’m working to keep it fun. So let’s ride this roller coaster and let go of the handle!
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The Importance of Reflection

“What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.” Meister Eckhart

This year our district added online courses (stand alone, blended) to course offerings for students. A required element for students is posting a reflection of their learning for the week in a Learning Journal. We want them to understand that reflection is an important part of learning and growing, both academically and personally. In addition, developing critical thinking skills is key to deeper learning. Students have commented on it being a helpful exercise for them. Reflecting on my own experience and learning process is a powerful way for me to grow in knowledge, practice, and character, as well.   have found that I limit my learning, growth, and practice when I don’t take the time for honest reflection.  As part of the #ETMOOC course, I will be using his blog as a place to record my reflections as I go though the course. Perhaps after that, I will either use this blog to record reflections of my own learning and practice outside of the course or start another blog.

Slowing down long enough to do it can be a challenge, but I’m trying to schedule time each week to reflect and plan (daily/weekly).  I think that journaling and/or blogging will help me to be able to keep a record of some of my reflections and to share them with others.  I have certainly benefited from the reflections of others in the blogosphere.  To guide the process, I’m sure the course will have questions for me to reflect/comment on, but here are some additional questions I’m working at asking myself each week:

  1. What are three things I learned this week? Is there a truth I can apply?
  2. What goals and tasks did I accomplish this week?
  3. What did I do this week that helped me in those efforts?
  4. What is something I didn’t understand?
  5. How did I do at fulfilling my mission statement?
  6. How did I do at living out my core values and beliefs before others? How can I improve on that?
  7. Who did I encourage and support this week?
  8. What can I do next week that will help me to improve and grow?

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