It’s Not about Raising My Average

“We are each the average of the people we hang out with and the experiences we choose.”

Seth Godin, June 13, 2016. (Seth’s Blog)

When I really think about it, my average is, well …., it’s average. It’s not in the realm of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. I’m admittedly and certainly not astronaut material. Topics of conversation in my average day aren’t about rocket science or black holes. But I enjoy reading and experiencing stuff that challenges my thinking. I enjoy connecting to people who talk about difficult topics where I’ll mostly listen to learn. But raising my average isn’t why I do what I do. I’m not consciously choosing experiences that will improve my average. I’m not connecting to smart people to make myself appear smart. I risk and push myself into open spaces to raise my awareness, to learn something new. I step out of my comfort zone to show others it’s OK to risk when learning new things by reaching out and talking to smart people.

Seth Godin talks about the courage it takes to raise your average, as an individual or organization. It takes guts to seek out and engage with people who express ideas and sharing information that you know nothing about – it’ll show your averageness. It’s a risk! Agreed! To seek out and actively engage with smart people and challenging ideas is daunting, but in the end, it will make a difference. It’s not about raising my average, it’s about getting in the game! It starts by taking that first step! It starts by reaching out to others!

Over the past year, I’ve had to dig deep into my courage bank to talk to smart people about challenging topics. I keep reminding myself that this is my choice. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone! It’s a necessary risk to improve my practice as a teacher and learner.

  • When attending the  New Media Consortium Summer Conference, sharing experiences as a conference correspondent and talking to leaders in educational technology were risks with the inevitable outcome of raising my thinking. I raised my game by attending conference sessions, town hall meetings and participating in hallway chats.
  • Participating with Virtually Connecting, in conferences of interest, as a virtual or on-site buddy, I continue to push myself out of comfortable spaces to expand my thinking. Participating at NMC2016 as a Virtually Connecting onsite buddy, I engaged in rich conversations with Autumm Caines, A. Michael Berman, Bryan Alexander, Maya GeorgievaGardner Campbell, and Dr. Ruben Puentedura. Virtual buddies also share challenging ideas and creative thinking that improves my understanding.
  • With the Digital Pedagogy Lab in Prince Edward Island and Virginia, I stepped into virtually spaces with smart people that made my mind work really hard. I turned to video annotation to clarify my understanding. This resulted in a collaboration with Rebecca Hogue and Britni Brown O’Donnell (Transcription as Deep Listening) that raised awareness by going deeper into an exploration of listening in virtual spaces. That’s why I keep risking and stepping into the open. It’s a conscious decision to risk and work hard at engaging in deep thinking.
  • Collaborating and co-constructing in CLMOOC this past summer raised my creativity. Sharing time and space with participants kept me on my toes, virtually speaking. Humour, insights, honesty, support and understanding were shared in good measure and resulted in an  experience in unbounded creativity and media production.

As I begin a new academic year, joining together with students I’m just getting to know, I’ll continue to step out of my comfort zone and risk going deeper. I’ll support students as they step out of their comfort zones by learning something new in digital and media spaces, many who will be blogging for the first time.

Together we’ll deepen our thinking through rich conversations about difficult topics when teaching with media and digital literacies. Ideas and challenges will continue to spark new directions of thinking for us. Collectively, we’ll seek out and connect to smart people who will share ideas we’ve never thought of before.

It’s not about raising our average. Our understanding and awareness will raise up and go deeper when talking openly about topics that challenge our perceptions, biases and beliefs.

It’s not about raising your average. It’s about improving yourself and understanding your part in our collective humanity.

It’s not about raising my average. It’s about being the best I can be to make a difference for others. That’s the risk worth the reward.

How will you raise your understanding? Who will you reach out to? How will you do this? Where will you risk yourself to gain inspirational rewards?


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Conductive Threads: A #CLMOOC #DailyConnect


Conductive Threads

My conductive thread this week connected Virtually Connecting from the Digital Pedagogy Lab in Prince Edward Island to the CLMOOC community. I wasn’t the only one weaving these threads together. There were others weaving with me. It created a colourful intertwining of ideas and conversations about digital teaching and learning. Today, I’m formally anchoring these two groups together and linking through  my work in digital spaces over the past few days.

First CLMOOC – meet Virtually Connecting (@VConnecting). Their presence at DigPed PEI has brought me here to our shared space. I’d like you both to know what it means to be connected in relationships and deeply passionate conversations (with lots of laughter involved). Here’s one of many conversations we’ve had this week that will shift and shape your thinking about going digital with students and colleagues.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 1.51.28 PM

Image created during CLMOOC Make With Me Hangout

Virtually Connecting – meet CLMOOC. I’m happy to connect you together because of the playful, fun, creative, amazingly diverse group of people that have come together, and will continue to share digital space and time together over the next four weeks, and into the coming year. There are many Virtual Connecting people who have and are participating in the @CLMOOC experience so I’m not the only one making this connection. #CLMOOC voices are sharing and making connections that will transform the way I teach and how I engage students in the digital spaces in which we tinker and play.

14442561574_49812a5fd3_mHappy to be a conductive thread today. Planting some seeds of connection. Go on. Get to know each other. Talk amongst yourselves. You have lots in common (you both talked about Pokemon Go this week)! I know you’ll continue to share and play nicely together.

Please comment if you weave together in some way – I’d love to see the threads that bind and bring us together.

Photo Credits

Threads: flickr photo by zimpenfish shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Seeds and threads: flickr photo by *Psyche Delia* shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

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What’s my number? ~ A #CLMOOC intro

pay-530338_640I’ve been taking my time. I’m dipping into the waters of #CLMOOC this week but it’s been a focus for interesting collaborations over the past few weeks. I wrote about bios (The True You: Iterations of a Bio) that shaped my thoughts. Now it’s time to present my introduction to the community. Who am I? What’s my number?

I connected to Sarah’s introduction – Who Am I Today? – where she shared a Thinglink that revealed interesting nuggets of information about her past and present. I’ve connected with Sarah before, but these facts uncovered intriguing ‘kenning’. Then I dipped into Deanna’s introduction – Who Am I? #CLMOOC Make Cycle #1 – where she reveals her superpower. This engaging way of introducing yourself caught me eye and made me smile. Diving into her introduction uncovered some gems that I’m going to take into my teaching in the coming months. The six-word-story posters and the Me Museum are engaging ways to get to know students. Then Christina shared her Intro for #clmooc2016 where her image of work-life balance had me thinking about my actions and where there is balance between what I do for work or play. Glad that #CLMOOC is a chance to play, tinker, explore and share – that can’t be work when it’s so much fun!

stingy-fiery-numbersSo …. introducing myself by sharing nuggets of information, revealing secret superpowers and uncover who I am.

My number is up! Time to share!

I am ONE. Uniquely me in what I do, how I do it, and why I do it! There’s no one quite like me. Not in a conceited, all about me kind of way. Just humbly ME. Willing to share my talents and gifts to engage, support and encourage others. I am one life long learner who teaches others along my one life’s journey.

I am TWO. My husband and I make a great team of two. We balance each other. We’ve been married almost 35 years now so our highs and lows are shared over time. My sister and I were the original dynamic duo in the family, fearlessly challenging the world when we stood together through thick and thin.

I am THREE. My three children have shaped my self as mother. They continue to share my joys and sorrows. Our frictions have never been abrasive, more like sandpaper softening my edges. These three continue to be my link to a changing world where anything can happen.

I am FOUR. Growing up as the oldest of ‘the four little ones’, we were always off on adventures together when we weren’t called into work detail. Growing up on a dairy farm there was always something that needed doing but our escapes from reality lifted the four of us into magical realms of make believe. Hidden forts in the forest or trekking through corn fields shaped my love of fantasy and science fiction. I am one of four sisters who still share time and space, like we used to share one bedroom in our farmhouse. We do not always agree, but we can connect and understand each other.

I am FIVE. With my husband and three children, our lives continue to be shaped by ‘car-talk-time’. Since we lived a distance from extended family, every winter, spring and summer involved driving somewhere to see someone or engage in some family event. Car talk time is still an occasion to engage in deeper discussions, playing games or sharing favourite tunes.

I am SIX. I am one of six siblings, born within six years. I am a middle child. Six children in a family can be complicated. Our family frequently travelled in smaller groups since six children didn’t fit into a car easily. We each had our assigned places at the dinner table to minimize conflict. Roles and work was divided to ensure all six shared in the load of managing the family tasks. My ethos of work and sharing results from being one of six.

I am SEVEN and EIGHT. Within my work as an educator, I have been blessed to be part of special group of friends and colleagues (MAG 7) that has shaped who I am and what I do. We were seven but now are eight. We continue to share our life journeys together in laughter and tears. Our semi-annual get togethers are moments carved out of busy lives that have become sacred spaces where pain, challenges, honours and celebrations are shared.

Reveal your numbers. Where are you on the number line? Remix this to remake your own numbers in time. It’s a #CLMOOC thing to do.

Picture Credits

Nine – Pixabay

Stingy Fiery Numbers from

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The True You: Iterations of a ‘bio’

“Today you are you! That is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is you-er than you.”
Dr. Seuss

Who is the ‘true you’ when you share your bio in digital spaces?  How do the words, images, events, and actions reveal and evolve as you engage in digital community places?

These questions came up in a conversation with some intrepid connectors who are organizing the upcoming CLMOOC 2016. When we join together in groups in physical or digital places, the first activity is usually some form of introduction. There are variations in how people chose to share information about themselves. I’ve looked at considerations in choosing a name (What’s in a Name) and have created bio statements (About Me). There are iterations on this task with ‘unbio’ or ‘fun-bio’ forms of biographies that sometimes say less yet reveal more. Using a ‘third thing‘ can help shape atypical bio statements. Watch this video to understand how a poem, image or object can uncover and reveal the true-you?

When it comes to social media, your bio is part of your presence. Do you reveal who you are or what you do? Is there a way to reveal both?

bio generator

After trying out the Twitter Bio Generator and laughing about how accurate and humorous some of the options could be, I reflected on the seven key ingredients in a great twitter bio. Maybe these could help reveal the ‘true-you’. I never thought of myself as a ‘passionate zombie buff’ but could see some accuracy in the ‘lifelong web evangelist’ statement. With Twitter bios, the character constraints can heighten your sense of urgency in crafting a bio that is focused on essentials. Unlike a tombstone marker that reveals a legacy of life, these bio statements can, and often do, change with whim or new ventures. Twitter bios can combine what you do with who you are. Creating or refreshing your Twitter bio can reveal the evolution of you in this digital space – record and celebrate this growth over time.

Images in your bio also evolve over time. Mine not only began with a generic name (hjdw) but also an avatar that didn’t reveal much of anything (see photo of butterfly)butterfly. At that time in the development of my digital biography, it was more about hiding than revealing. Iterations of avatars and images attached to my bio reveal a progression of becoming visible and comfortable with a ‘true-you’. My use and management of a gravatar image attached to my blog has also evolve over time.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 4.22.05 PMOver the years, I’ve created variations and iterations of avatar images using a variety of image generators (DoppelMe, Bitstrips, PeanutizeMe, Picasso style, Van Gogh style). The evolution to using my own image as part of my bio was not a gentle shift but a conscious decision. I continue to decide where and when to share my real face or avatar image when joining connected communities. Interestingly, Bitstrips for Schools, one of my favourite ways to create an avatar and collaborative comic style conversations, has recently been bought out by Snapchat – there’s a future for cartoon versions of ‘you’.

What you include in your bio depends on where it will be used and who’s going to read it. Reflecting a media literacy perspective, it’s a process of considering audience, media text and production. Context is important. For the upcoming CLMOOC 2016 introductions, it’s about creativity, connecting and community. For Virtually Connecting, my (fun)bio should reveal my interests in the community and how I engage in relationships and conversations. For the Inclusive Learning Network Summer Book Study, my bio statement will connect to the purpose and theme – summertime, poolside, choice, serendipity.

Creating your own image, text, icons, and social media resources is a great way to reflect on the true ‘you-ness’. There will be evolutions as you design and reveal your bio. Don’t expect it to remain static. Be open to iterations. Find and re-mix bio’s created by others. Re-create your bio for purpose and audience. The more you do your bio, the more you learn about the true-you. Use a variety of digital tools and resources to craft and create in a style that suits YOU – try Canva, Google Draw, or Visualize.Me. You can clip or use parts of what you create in a visual resume as part of a bio statement.

How has your bio changed, evolved and been re-created? What does your bio reveal or leave hidden? Where did you craft your ‘best-ever-bio’?

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Shifting My Thinking from ‘IF’ to ‘WHEN’

“Change is the law of life. Those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” John F. Kennedy

It’s always been important for me to plan ahead. In my personal life, I’ve steadily organized details for family trips, scheduled appointments in advance, managed finances to save for extra expenses and worked out logistics for my children’s sports. In my work with educational technology, it’s quite challenging to plan ahead when the next trend or tool is unknown or newly designed. Over the years, I’ve searched for reliable sources for information about trends and developments. One such resource has been the Horizon Report from the New Media Consortium (NMC). These annual reports identify trends in one year, two year and five year increments. They identify challenges and developments in educational technology that will or may impact the life of teachers and learners.

When the opportunity was presented for me to attend the New Media Consortium Summer Conference, through the generosity of board member A. Michael Berman, and engage in face-to-face conversations with fellow Virtually Connecting participant Autumm Caines, my organizational planning kicked in. My thinking shifted from if I ever get to meet Autumm to when I get to meet Autumm. This was an exciting shift – full or possibility and potential. No longer just a wish or a dream, this shift required action and planning.IMG_1157 copy

This shift extended into the potential of meeting other people in the ed tech field, presenters listed in the New Media Consortium Conference program. I read and reread the conference booklet, planned and re-planned ~ if I would envision futures with Bryan Alexander, if I could talk about the SAMR model with Ruben Puentadura, if I could learn about virtual reality from Maya Georgieva and Emory Craig. My wishful thinking and dreaming of future events didn’t require any action, until …… Virtually Connecting shifted my thinking.

IMG_1152 copySuddenly things moved from if to when. Planning and action was required. Emails, tweets, schedules, contacts and technical details were organized through the Virtually Connecting Slack channel, with a community of support. I found myself in the midst of the excitement. My thinking adapted and shifted to when I meet these thought leaders and people who are shaping change in ed tech, what will I say, do, or need to know. I realized there was some serious learning I needed to do in order to understand and be understood. There were details that needed to be worked out. I needed to prepare myself in order to better adapt to the potential changes and challenges that would occur when I reached the moment of meeting and connecting in the conference setting. Lots of unknowns will occur, but that’s expected. These unforeseen glitches are part of living and learning in current ed tech contexts.

I couldn’t help but draw connections from my own experiences to the Horizon Report that the New Media Consortium distributes to K-12, Higher Education, Libraries, Museums and various global contexts. These reports are framed as potential possibilities and require a shift in thinking from IF to WHEN. As an educator of a future generation I can no longer think in terms of if certain tech trends and developments, such as augmented and virtual reality, will be part of my student’s world or if digital literacy should be incorporated into teaching. As an educator I need to be aware of what’s on the horizon and I need others to look to that horizon with me. It’s going to take a collective, community effort to plan, organize and prepare for the potentials of new trends in technology. When robotics is part of the everyday educational learning landscape, what will I say, do or need to know? What serious learning will I need in order to understand and be understood? What details will need to be worked out and who will work with me?

While at the conference, it was energizing to realize that I was not alone in this quest to shift from IF to WHEN. The NMC Town Hall meeting was an effort to collectively plan and envision future directions for the NMC organization. The sessions relating to the Horizon Report allowed for conversations about when new trends and developments will be realized in education. One session shared the newly released digital version of the NMC Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition shifting thinking from if there is an interactive, digital version of the report to when there is an app for that. Many conversations revealed how planning and collaboration can support the shift to WHEN. Videos of keynotes from the conference can inform your own shift in thinking. Bryan Alexander’s closing keynote is particularly informative in shifting thinking away from IF and into the realm of WHEN.

My shift in thinking after attending the NMC Summer Conference is shaped by my experiences, the people, the conversations and the events. I no longer think in if’s.

  • Not if but when I share space and time with Autumm, it’ll feel like we are lifetime friends.
  • When sharing conference experiences through Virtually Connecting hangouts, I am sure to enjoy conversations and ideas that would not have otherwise happened.
  • When I share my voice in digital spaces, interesting connections occur (thanks Aras for capturing these in time and space).

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  • Not if but when I share the experience of eating candied bacon with Bryan Alexander, the flavors, like the ideas, will burst forth.
  • Not if but when I share a car ride with Ruben Puentadura, getting to the reception for the conference, I can enjoy the journey because it’s sure to venture onto paths untraveled, no GPS required.
  • When I share laughter and a story over an IOU written on a playing card with Joe Lambert, I am sure to get more than a story to tell.
  • When I share an Ethiopian meal with Maya Georgieva and Emory Craig, it’s going to lead to discussions about more than alternate realities in real or digital spaces.
  • When I venture to try virtual reality at the Rochester Institute of Technology, I will experience new places and meet interesting people.
  • When I have to quickly leave the NMC conference due to a sudden death in my family, I can be sure of a warm hug from A. Michael Berman and Crista Copp at the door and that people in my real and virtual communities will share my sadness and care about me.

Life and thinking will continue to shift from IF to WHEN – that’s reality. No virtual or digital involved. It’s not a matter of if….. it’s a matter of when. As I’ve learned from my NMC and recent family events, it’s important to take time to think about it, plan for it and be ready for the shifts, so they don’t take you totally by surprise.

How would your thinking shift when you move from if to when? How will changes and life events, both real and virtual, potentially impact that shift?

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