My son has become a WWII and Vietnam War era weapons expert. He can recognize and describe the capabilities of weapons I have never seen or heard of (and I am a history teacher!). He has learned a lot about World War II and Vietnam because of his interest in video games set in those historical eras. He has done research outside of the games because he simply enjoys learning about the two conflicts and because he has a group of online friends that gets together regularly to play those games. Because the games are social in nature, he and his friends work together to compete with other similar groups. I watched (and listened) to them one night as they differentiated what they were doing in order to take on another group of online players. It was really fascinating as they talked each other through the “contest”, each with different types of expertise at playing the game. Together they were really good at taking out their opposition. If they had not been so good at collaborating, sharing each others’ expertise, the other group would have stood a chance. What a wonderful example of how we are smarter together!
I have developed a PLN (professional or personal learning network) that makes me smarter too (no snickering now). I have connected with teachers in the classroom, groups of Connected Principals, and scores of educational resources that write a network of blogs and share a ton of ideas and assets on Twitter. The effect of this on my practice as an educator has been huge, but there are holes in my PLN. There are people out there that I have not connected with who could help me be more effective if not smarter. We, the networked educators, have to pledge to grow the group. To exponentially expand our ability to affect positive changes in the lives of students everywhere, we need to take time every week to try to grow the PLN and add experts that have just not connected yet. So many of the individuals in the network are spreading the news, but they need help! THEY NEED YOU. What can you do to help make us all get smarter?