Making Ourselves Smarter

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?

5 thoughts on “Making Ourselves Smarter

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Making Ourselves Smarter | PCHSdirectorBLOG -- Topsy.com

  2. Dave, this post reminds me of the points made in The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion by John Seely Brown. I’ve began reading this great book a short while ago, and I love the ideas that making connections, building relationships, and harnessing the power of a network of people focused on shared passions can yield success in an organization. The people that are willing to put themselves “out there” (on the edge) to establish these connections and share and create lead the way in producing and sustaining meaningful change in their organizations (and their lives!)

    Love these quotes:
    “Since much of the most relevant knowledge on the edge is tacit knowledge, edge participants naturally place a heavy emphasis on building diverse networks of relationships that will help them to collaborate more effectively with others in the creation of new
    knowledge.”

    “Tacit knowledge is held by individuals, so if firms want to enhance their participation in tacit knowledge flows, they must find ways to expand and enrich the social networks of their employees, helping them to connect with other individuals on relevant edge.”

    I think it’s so amazing that Connected Principals, for example, is something so personally meaningful to all of its participants (and hopefully the readers!), and is so seemingly simplistic in its organization. Yet, we connect, work together and share ideas in a way that helps us build new understandings from that which is shared to create for our schools, and our organizations and kids reap the benefits. Sharing is good!

  3. Lyn,

    Thanks so much for the comment! I will have to read that book. So much to be learned from each other. Whether we agree or disagree when we participate in the discussions, my point of view is challenged and stretched everyday by people that I did not know a year ago. The fact that I have gained so much from others only makes me want to grow the network I belong to more. I really think the “together we are smarter” coalition we are building is the real answer to transforming education for our kids. The more educators we can connect the faster they will get caught in this web of learning. Thanks for being part of my learning network!

  4. Dave,

    As a gamer in my younger years and still as an adult when I have time, I enjoyed reading your post. I think it is a point well made about the power of collaboration. Human beings naturally learn better in groups, regardless of the size. The simple fact of being able to bounce ideas and share perspectives is a powerful thing. I have said it before, but I learn more from my PLN through social media than I do from “real people” in my professional life. That is not to say I don’t learn with my co-workers, but there are only 70 of them. My PLN is vast and stretches the globe and offers perspectives I just can’t get at school.

    Thanks for sharing Dave!

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