Thursday, 9 October 2014

Networking with Alan Levine

As part of my quest to become a connected educator, I attended the recent session with Alan Levine at the University of Waikato about Networked Teachers - A story of open, connected educators.
Alan presented at the University as part of a nine-day research tour around NZ, and his Friday morning session came soon after his presentations at Shar-e-fest.

Alan, aka @cogdog is a web pioneer, a blogger and an inventor, with current interests in narratives and photography. Check out his work at:

The session on networked teachers revolved around open attitudes, sharing stories, improvising and considering options for connected courses. We recorded some stories about times when we opened up teaching and learning opportunities beyond the classroom, lecture theatre or LMS, to find that something unexpected could happen – here’s mine: recounting a time when a student tweeted a blogpost to our class hashtag, only to have the blogger join us in an informal twitter exchange about social media, beginning teachers, and learning philosophies.

We also discussed barriers to openness, in the form of institutional patterns, student expectations, and even twitter trolls masquerading as conference delegates. Sharing can be discouraged when there is a fear of theft, when colleagues are predatory rather than supportive, and when the culture encourages competition and ruthless self-promotion at the expense of collaboration.

We played with the wonderful which involved us selecting ‘teaching’ as a keyword, then speaking for a few seconds each on a series of random images. This was a fun, impromptu exercise, good for surfacing assumptions and for finding common ground.
Check out Alan Levine’s PechaFlickr. If familiar with PechaKucha, you will recognise the idea of 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide, as a way of promoting concise presentations. Similar improvised presentation ideas are BattleDecks and PowerPoint Karaoke.

The session concluded with a whirlwind tour of open connected courses, where students each maintain their own blog as a personalised space, and tag to aggregate these to a source site (syndication). For example, is an open course on how to run open courses.

Thank you to Alan for his openness, sharing, innovative ideas and energy.
And thanks to the other attendees who came along to share, critique, engage and record their stories, contributing to our Pechaflickr fun too.

The key ideas stemming from Alan’s session are, for me:
  • Open up and share
  • Tell stories, listen and collaborate
  • Improvise to improve
  • Connect for active co-learning

Do these ideas resonate with you?
Did you also work with Alan during his kiwi visit?
How did the afternoon workshop session go and what can you share?


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  2. Alan has loaded some of his resources from sessions around NZ for people to access and use