#learning2 Keynote

On September 9, 2011, in educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

Learning 2.011

 

Thanks to Kim Cofino for encouraging me to post the keynote text :) Kim asked for academic resources/theory on social networking.  All I know I learned from Ken Frank in CEP 991B Seminar on the Theory and Method of Social Networks.  Of particular interest to the Learning 2.011 crowd may be

Zhao, Yong, Lei, Jing and K.A. Frank. 2006.  “The Social Life of Technology: An Ecological Analysis of Technology Diffusion in Schools.  Pedagogies. Vol. 1 (2): 135-149.

Zhao, Y. and Frank, K. A., 2003. “An Ecological Analysis of Factors Affecting Technology Use in Schools.” American Educational Research Journal, 40(4): 807-840.

Additionally, make sure to follow the work of Nicole Elison and Cliff Lampe – they (literally) write the books on social media!

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I would like to thank David Larson for giving me this opportunity.  David was my student several years ago and as you all know, it’s such a joy to watch your students after they leave your nest – you continue to inspire me David and this is truly an honor.

David asked me to speak to one of the conference themes and I chose CONNECT.  So as I was starting to put together my thoughts I remembered that few months back I read Stephen Johnson’s latest book Where Good Ideas Come From.  That seemed like a great place to start the creative juices flowing when looking for good ideas, so I went back to the text.

In the book, Johnson talks about ideas being networks, not stand-alone things.  Because ideas are networks, this fosters an inclination to adapt and integrate them into your own network of good ideas.  In talking about ideas as networks he goes on to say the most consistently creative individuals have broad social networks that extend far beyond their own organizations.  If this theory is true, which I believe it is,  then I’m standing in front of some of the most creative people in the world.

You’re going to hear the word PLN over and over the next few days.  With my love of connecting it’s no coincidence that I’m a member of the Empowering Teacher Leaders & Personal Learning Networks cohort.  I’m lucky enough in my work with Michigan State to be able to connect to a global network of teachers and practitioners. It’s my job to connect. I connect my own students in our master’s program to content, help them make cross-content and continent connections with each other and help them leverage my own connections, like the ones I’m building here with you.

The power of connections and connecting is nothing new.  In the 1970’s (i.e. pre-internet) Mark Granovetter wrote a paper that talked about the strength of weak ties and social network theorists like Barry Wellman have formulas that quantify how and why information spreads.  While theory can explain how and why these connections work the way they do, I think there is a bit of magic involved. No mater what vehicle we use to connect – Facebook, twitter, instagram, text, sign language, face to face – the magic and power of a connection is still there.

We all have anecdotal evidence that exemplify the power of connection. A plea for a quick tech fix on Facebook that is answered within 2 minutes. A twitter conversation that pushes buttons and then pushes your practice.  Kind words of encouragement via a direct message during a time of loss or frustration.  The connections empower and nurture us and in turn continue to empower and nurture others.

I encourage you to harness the connective powers around us while we’re here together in Shanghai – push beyond your existing connections and continue to grow the amazing network if ideas.

 

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