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Standing on the Shoulder of My Network

In honor of Connected Educator Month, I wanted to pay tribute to educators who inspire me and I learn from daily, virtually and in person. They feed my professional soul, they are conversation partners and they keep me excited about being a teacher. I am standing on the shoulders of giants, aka my network. My work is a direct result of their curation effort, their ability to trigger my imagination, their contribution to help me make sense of things I never thought or dreamed about and the pool of past experiences each one brings as an educator.

I am not an original, I am a remixer of the collaborative experience and knowledge building network, that technology allows us to access, connect with, learn from, reflect about and then continue to share.

Thank you all.

network-standing on shoulders of giants

Just in case you want to play detective and grow your network, I have added the following members of my network (in no particular order of importance) to this list for you to consider.

Workflow and Learnflow

I have been using the words workflow and learnflow in conjunction with learning in the modern world.

Workflow is defined by Wikipedia as:

The sequence of industrial, administrative, or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion.

In an iPad classroom environment, a workflow takes on the shape of having a strategically selected toolkit of apps available and knowing what app to use for specific purposes. When a workflow exists, students and teachers know what steps to take to

  1. receive information
  2. edit, format, remix and create information (sometimes using several apps to obtain the desired results)
  3. save information
  4. share, send and disseminate information

For example a screencasting workflow on the iPad  using and app, such as Explain Everything, would look as follows:

  1. import selected images needed
  2. add annotations (text, arrows, shapes) as well as audio recordings to explain concept
  3. save the movie
  4. share the movie by emailing it or uploading it to video sharing site


A learnflow is when the individual steps of a workflow are not viewed as individual steps, but are rendered unconsciously, smoothly and effortlessly.
The learnflow is part of the fluency, the iPad user has attained in order to not see using individual apps as a goal, but their use have become merely a tool in the pedagogical aim of learning.


The path of learning takes me smoothly from reading information to evaluating then curating to effortlessly manage the information. As I learn, I unconsciously reflect, share and amplify my thoughts. My learning is intrinsically connected to a cycle of connecting, communicating, collaborating and publishing. It has become my learnflow.



Connected Educators, Leaders and Schools

Connected students need connected teachers. Connected teachers need backing from connected administrators. Connected administrators create and support connected schools!

What do I mean by connected?

I am looking beyond the traditional meaning of being connected. It is not as simple as looking at traditional networking… belonging to a Rotary Club…going to educational conferences… knowing your colleagues and staff… attending the local area school network days… I mean being connected to people (who you most likely will never meet) who inspire, support and amplify your LEARNING.

It is an intentional connection for specific purposes not merely a passive “knowing the right people”. Being connected means reaching out for diverse perspective, conversation partners, collaborative or crowdsourcing opportunities  as part of your everyday work and learn flow. The following short video shares what being connected means to several educators who are living the “connected life” as a professional educator.

What are some next steps for administrators to become connected leaders and learners? connected-leader

Next Steps:

  1. Dedicate time: minimum 15 minutes a day
  2. Grow your PLN: read blogs and Twitter
  3. Tell a story: Go beyond marketing for your school, but see sharing as part of the mechanism of your network.
  4. Bring connected learning to the consciousness of your learning community
  5. Participate actively: Seek out online conference, Twitter chats or follow Twitter hashtags around an interesting conversation

As a connected learner, I look to my network to:

  1. gather resources I had not seen (see 1 below)
  2. have a conversation about the topic I am exploring or wrapping my mind around  (see 2)
  3. listen to points of view I had not considered (see 3)
  4. get inspiration (and sometimes a laugh)  from people who are so much more creative than I am :) (see 4)
  5. be part of a crowdsourcing experience (see 5)

1) Using the #ce13 hashtag or reading customized magazine style RSS readers,  I am connected to a constant flow of resources and conversations going on. I came across the following blog post by George Couros- Isolation is Now a Choice Educators Make.

2) By tweeting the link, @cmtmalvern responded with an intriguing statement and a short, spontaneous and instantaneous conversation had started.


3) I also had a face2face conversation with my Director of Technology, Mike Dunlop, who was questioning (as I was developing the image of the Connected Leader above) that I was heavily leaning towards Twitter and Blogging as the preferred platform FOR connecting. I am guilty as charged. I am biased towards twitting and blogging, since these are the platforms that I am most familiar with and primarily use for connecting. I DO agree with him though that they are NOT the only choices for becoming a connected administrator or leader.


Take a look at The American School of Bombay  and their statement on LinkedIn.

“Aligned with our Mission, Core Values, and Strategic Objectives, ASB uses LinkedIn to support and develop:

  1. Professional connections within the ASB Community

  2. Connections to potential speakers for the classroom, division, or at the school-wide level

  3. Associations and partnerships with organizations in support of school initiatives

  4. Relationships with local, national, and international governmental and education institutions”



Pinterest is quickly developing into a viable source for inspiration and connections to other educators I found the Singapore American School’s presence on Pinterest  visually connecting and “” Celebrating all things SAS!” pinterest-sas


3) & 4) My friend and colleague, Mike Fisher, responded to a question (What to say when an administrator asks WHY do I need to be connected?)  I posted on Twitter (but which gets automatically posted to my  Facebook page.

“Anything that is unplugged won’t work. Want to be electric? Bright? Productive? Plug in!”


5) I am extremely intrigued by the transformational learning experience of crowdsourcing. Transformational… because it simply would not have been possible to create and learn in this amplified way before the existence of technology and our connections and network.

Sheryl Nussbaum Beach asked her network to contribute to a document as she wondered  where to best begin to authentically build the connected school? Take a look… what do you wonder about?

This is a collective wondering by educational leaders in Northern Ontario. Feel free to help us build collective intelligence by adding your ideas to their questions. Just start by typing below the question with your resources, blog, experiences, answers or suggestions. Maybe extend the wondering with questions of your own. Be sure and include your Twitter name so they can follow you and follow up.

Not only do we learn from people who otherwise we would never have been in contact with, but  as Joan Young points out in her blog post 7 Ways My Classroom is Better Because I Connect

I learn from the collective wisdom of the crowd. We promote the idea that students should develop skills by observing others as they learn and make mistakes. Surely it makes sense for us to connect and learn vicariously through the lives and work of other teachers.  If another teacher has used a process or tool and has shared what worked or didn’t work, this can save enormous time and energy. My students then have a teacher who is not as exhausted, but continuously inspired by stories of “what really works.”

How do you interpret the shift of what a connected educator means? How is it different? Are we talking at cross purposes when we think of being connected?

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