Wednesday, 15 April 2015

My EdTech Team GAFE Summit Ah Ha Moment!

I used to picture my learning journey as a race. I run to keep up, feeling the need to learn as much as I can to get closer and closer to my finish line. I know I’ll never reach it and that’s fine because I enjoy learning. My issue is that I always feel that the only way to move forward in my race is to have all the answers. That is the only way to get closer to the ribbon at the end.

This morning, I was reflecting on all the inspiring educators who shared their knowledge over the weekend at EdTech Team’s Ontario GAFE Summit and it hit me! I’m not racing to a finish line. My analogy is founded in isolation. This weekend was all about true and powerful collaboration.

My single-lane race transformed into a giant puzzle.  

I bring a piece, maybe more than one piece, but so does every educator I have the fortune to meet and learn from.  

I’m not yet an expert on how to use IFTTT but someone else is so they bring that piece to my puzzle.

I’m not yet an expert on how to sketchnote but someone else is so they bring that piece to my puzzle.

I’m not yet an expert on how to integrate a green screen or Google Maps or Twitter but others are and they will bring those pieces to my puzzle.

Together, a picture is formed and that is how I will become a better educator.

This isn't to say that I won't one day be able to contribute other pieces of my own but until then, I can feel supported by shared knowledge of my peers who are building my puzzle collaboratively.

For a long time, I was trying to help myself understand that I just had to be patient on my race and that one day, I'd know everything I needed to know.

Now I get it. I don't have to know everything! (I know this isn't a revolutionary concept and I'm sure I always knew this but there is a difference between knowing it and really believing it to the point where the belief gives you confidence.)

What I do have to know is that learning is a collaborative effort.

I will continue to bring pieces to my puzzle and seek out other inspiring educators for their pieces too.

Friday, 10 April 2015

The Importance of Researching a Hashtag: A Lesson Learned

Well, I certainly learned a lesson today! I made a series of mistakes and in the spirit of a growth mindset, I feel the need to share what I learned right away.  

Earlier today I completed a post for my other blog, Inquire and Inspire, that I'd been working on for just over a week.  I was proud of it and eager share it.  I've done this many times before and this wasn't going to be any different.

I tweeted it out and included my usual hashtags: #edchat and #edtech.

This time though, since my post explained how educators can use backchannels like TodaysMeet and Twitter for increased opportunities for student voice, I decided to include the hashtag "backchannel".  Why wouldn't I? As I typed it in, it appeared in the autofill drop down so naturally it was okay to include. I was even proud of myself for working it into the body of the tweet instead of tacking it on at the end.
Within about an hour, I received a tweet stating that I should research hashtags and avoid promoting my blog post with one (backchannel) that is already in use.

Gasp! I had been called out in public for a naive error. What thread had I tied my tweet to?!? Fortunately, it wasn't anything inappropriate but still, I made a silly error that was completely avoidable.

I replied to the gentleman and thanked him for pointing out my mistake and proceeded to delete my tweet. Then I decided to delete my thank you tweet because I thought that would call more attention to my error. Finally I contacted the one person who had retweeted my tweet and requested that she delete her retweet. (I apologize for the repetitive language but it seems to be unavoidable).

Now a few hours later, I am having trouble keeping track of all the mistakes I made today; the biggest being I should never have used a hashtag that I wasn't familiar with. I should always do my due diligence and research a hashtag before connecting a tweet to it. I've heard the horror stories of people who have tied their tweets to hashtags that are irrelevant or inappropriate for a larger audience.  Of course, that wasn't my intention but naivety is no excuse.

Here is what I'm still questioning.  

Did I do the right thing by deleting the original tweet? I think that was okay. It didn't belong in that thread and I was correcting an honest error.

Did I do the right thing by deleting my reply tweet to the man who pointed out my error? I don't think so. I made the mistake and I should not have been afraid that people would find out. I explain to my students all the time that making mistakes is part of the learning process and without them, we'd never grow. We need to appreciate our blunders and not be afraid to share them so others won't be afraid to take risks. What did I do? I tried to hide my mistake. That's taking a step backwards in my own journey to become a responsible digital citizen. 

Although one of my instincts was to forget this ever happened, I decided to fight that fear and write this post instead. I will share the story with my students next week and use it as a lesson to help them understand the power of social media. 

In the end, I'm relieved no one was hurt and no major damage was done but I realize what could happen if I'm not thinking. The funny thing is, I thought I knew what I was doing! I know the stories of people who make these mistakes and I thought I was digitally responsible.  I still have lots to learn.  Sharing this story is part of my learning.