Getting “Connected”

There are times when I even amaze myself.  Let me explain … I have been privileged over the last 5 weeks to be involved in a course offered by Powerful Learning Practice.  The course is titled, “Connected Coaching”.  Here is the brief course description:

This course will prepare learners to become connected coaches in online communities of practice where through a strength based, appreciative inquiry approach they will work with teams and individual members helping them think deeply toward developing a shared vision for new ways of learning together in online spaces.

I enrolled in the course for a number of reasons:
– I had learned to appreciate the passion and vision of PLP the previous year as a member of a Year 1 team within our Board
– A significant aspect of my role within our Board is to coordinate and implement professional development programs.  I felt that taking the time to learn about Connected Coaching would be a real asset in my work.

At this point in time, there is one significant idea that is transforming how I view my role, how I view professional development and how I understand pedagogy.  This concept is wrapped up in the understanding of the word, ‘Connected’.  Initially, I understood connectedness on a superficial level.  The coach is connect to the learner through technology – through the discussion forums, through Elluminate, or through whatever online tool would be used.

The course is helping me to understand that the concept of ‘Connected’ goes so much deeper.  Yes, we are connected through technology but we are also connected through our shared passions, through our shared thirst for learning, and through our shared  commitments.  I am learning that the concept of connected is about being a part of a learning community.  The concept of connected illustrates that the ties between the coach and the learner can go far deeper than meeting together online via Skype.

What further energizes me is the role that technology plays in the connected community.  I have heard from many that working together using technology is never as valuable as meeting and working together face to face.  However, this idea has been challenged in my mind.  The use of technology can be a real enabler.  It allows individuals to come together within a learning community that would not otherwise be able to do so.  Technology allows the community to meet, communicate, collaborate, and create in many different ways.  This diverse approach opens the door for a greater participation of a wider group of people.

Within the PLP, I enjoy being involved in the community (aka The Hub).  I appreciate the variety of ways one can be involved and the freedom to choose what works for me.  I  appreciate the idea that I can be myself.  I am not being forced into a preset mold of what a Connected Coach should be.

Has everything that I have tried worked?  No it has not … but I am not discouraged.  Not everyone that I have tried to connect with has responded.  There are some who are likely wondering who is this guy and why is he sending messages.  We all know that building relationships will take time.  Building trust will take time.  It is perhaps a little unrealistic to think that it can be done within a week.

Still a few more weeks of the course to go.  More things to learn, more things to do … and more opportunities to deepen the relationships with those in the community.

Feeling the Wind – Harry

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Are you a social media lurker?

In the world of Web 2.0 a Lurker is one who spends time consuming content online using social media without taking the time to create content and share.

I know many self-proclaimed lurkers. You may have also admitted to spending time doing ‘a lot of lurking’.  If I am honest with myself, I also have to admit spending a lot of time as a lurker.

Why do I lurk?  I lurk as a way to filter through all of the material that is being shared.  I have found that it is impossible to share, comment or raise questions on every thing that I read.  I simply do not have the time or energy to do that.  Therefore, I lurk to help me sort through the content in order to determine what is relevant and what I find interesting.  I lurk while I am reflecting and assimilating the information presented to me.  I lurk while I consider how or what I might say in response.  I lurk while I think of the questions I have or the comments I would like to make.

I do not think any of us really think that there is anything wrong with lurking while using Social Media.  The difficulty is when a person never takes the opportunity to ask questions, make comments or shares what he/she has learned.  The potential problem is when a person is an exclusive lurker.

I think there are other challenges when participating in an online community like Twitter that also need to be raised.  I have grown in my appreciation for Twitter and the educators who are a part of it.  However, there are times when I find Twitter overwhelming.  There are so many discussions happening.  I can understand if a member of the twitterati is uncertain what to say or where to say it.  I can understand it when there are some who are uncomfortable within this online environment and do not venture beyond their safe group of personal friends and peers.

My response to those who may be intimidated … relax, and feel free to continue to lurk and learn.  I look forward to the time when I have a question that you are able and comfortable to answer.  I look forward to finding an online medium (perhaps micro blogging is not your strength) where you feel confident to be able to express yourself.

Feel The Wind … Harry