The Visibility of Learning

The ETMOOC orientation was really cool. Not because there was some grand proposition or revolutionary breakthrough. It was cool because it was honest and spontaneous. A bunch of people who signed up because of some mix of curiosity and interest in edtech. Most seemed to be MOOC first timers (myself included) and jumped into Blackboard Collaborate, writing all over Alec Couros’ slides.

At some point, two questions were proposed during the session. The first was, “how are you making your learning visible?”  And the second was, “how are you contributing to the learning of others?” I had to think long and hard on this. It may seem like an easy question, but it’s actually pretty loaded. Hence this post is a week after the orientation session. I hope it makes sense!

Making learning visible is sharing. Not just sharing what you learned, but how you learned it, what barriers you encountered, and the successes you had. Learning is a process, and when you can share your learning process with others, it in turn might help them with their learning processes. We stand on the shoulders of giants. We can get to new heights because someone had done legwork previous to us. But how do I make my learning visible? Twitter, Instagram, blogging, and good ol’ fashioned conversation.

I firmly believe I am contributing to the learning of others. I don’t just mean my students either. I think that I help inspire other teachers to some degree. I want to do this because I’m inspired by others. When there’s a teacher at my school who’s doing something interesting, I’ll pick their brain and ask questions about it. In turn, when I come across something that I think they’ll like and use, I’ll share it with them. The great thing is that they’re much more receptive of my input because I’ve initiated the relationship of sharing by asking for their input first. Sometimes teachers feel like their teaching style/method/integrity is being attacked when someone makes a recommendation or suggestion to them. And sometimes we’re too eager to tell someone how we think we can help them. To combat this, ask about them and their teaching first! Take that pressure off. Show them that you’re a learner and want help. I guarantee in the future they’ll be more receptive towards your input.

I’ll close this post with two final thoughts. First, I believe learning is infectious. It must come by as an intrinsically motivated thing causing others to want to learn as well. So make your learning visible! Show yourself as a learner, and not always a teacher. Foster a culture and relationship of learning, not telling, because individually we don’t have all the answers. Secondly, making learning visible is about forging relationships. When we have a relationship then we must communicate. When there’s a relationship there’s a sort of tangible two-way communication line via text, speech, or video/audio. If this is done in a PLN, your audience, and influence, might reach more than you know and forge new relationships. When these communications are made visible, the more people are able to jump in and learn with you.

PS  I’m very interested in trying a Google+ hangout. Never done one before, so if you’re interested comment, tweet, or email me. Hopefully we can learn something from each other.

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4 thoughts on “The Visibility of Learning

  1. I needed this excellent advice: “The great thing is that they’re much more receptive of my input because I’ve initiated the relationship of sharing by asking for their input first. Sometimes teachers feel like their teaching style/method/integrity is being attacked when someone makes a recommendation or suggestion to them. And sometimes we’re too eager to tell someone how we think we can help them.”

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Brent, love your blog and the message…”When there’s a teacher at my school who’s doing something interesting, I’ll pick their brain and ask questions about it. In turn, when I come across something that I think they’ll like and use, I’ll share it with them. The great thing is that they’re much more receptive of my input because I’ve initiated the relationship of sharing by asking for their input first.” Thanks for reminding me that forging relationships is the critical starting point for building a culture of learning in any organization. I work in a widely dispersed org in Nunavut, Arctic College and am struggling to foster interest in online learning and continuing PD with our staff. I am beginning to realize that most of my efforts have been telling. Somehow I need to turn that around and and start asking and listening more. My evangelical attitude towards ed tech and open learning is not helping, its hindering.! I am going to spend some time today thinking about how I can build relationships with our staff who are scattered all over the territory. as for google hangout I’d love to learn how, and learning by doing is the best. just let me know when.

    1. Agreed. Sometimes we get caught up with how good an idea is and how everyone has to use it, but in the process we offend and alienate those we are trying to share it with. Nobody like having new things forced on them, even if they are good ideas. Lots of tact and relationship building required.

      Thanks for the comment!

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