by Pinelopi Zaka (email@example.com, @paz11uc)
If we look into a learning organization such as a school, teachers are often encouraged to collaborate with each other to improve their practices, support one another and further develop their professional knowledge. At the next level is sharing these learning experiences that the teachers are developing within their own contexts with teachers outside their own school. The benefits are priceless, including thinking outside our little box.
As part of my M.Ed. on e-learning and digital technologies in education at the University of Canterbury, I had the opportunity to collaborate online with many teachers and other professionals that were coming from various and different contexts, sharing our ideas, experiences and reflections and of course supporting each other in our learning journey. Experiencing the value of sharing in the ‘safe’ online environment of my courses, I was further motivated and encouraged to start using other social media to extend my learning experience, connecting with even more people.
This is where I realized the important role of social media in today’s world. It’s all about sharing our knowledge, our practice, our experiences with other teachers, other professionals, in other contexts; using blogs, wikis, videos, tweets and so many other ways, depending on what better suits the individual, this is what helps us to think outside our own silos and move our thinking and practice lots of steps further.
There are countless examples of teachers and other education professionals in New Zealand and elsewhere that share their educational practices, ideas, research and other resources through blogs, wikis, twitter, podcasts etc, not concerned about keeping their materials for themselves. Acknowledging the value of sharing, they consider other professionals that can be inspired from their own practices, engage in constructive dialogue, reflect on their own contexts from different points of view, experiment with new tools and approaches.
This plays an important role in changing what it means to be a good educator. In a society where knowledge itself has lost its previous ‘glory’, as the web enables instant access to what was previously held by the experts, teachers and schools have to offer more than teaching materials; it’s not about the resources, but about inspiring others and be inspired – moving beyond knowing the facts and creating new knowledge through collaboration. Isn’t this what we want for our students? Why not for us as well then? Practicing what we preach... so keep sharing!
- Margaret Riel video interview on teacher/leadership and its relation to ICT in education. EduSummIT 2009, Hague
- Blogs and podcasts by NZ teachers and educators
- New Zealand Educational “Twits” to follow (via http://traintheteacher.wordpress.com/)
- Australian Tweechers PLN (via http://traintheteacher.wordpress.com/