What do we do with all this connectivity?

Is the Internet a mass of content or a mass of connections

I want to respond quickly and say that it’s a mass of connected content, but I think that the content remains disconnected without its users. So the users are the key players in the game and they are the mass of importance. So, if the internet is a mass of connections what can we do with it?

Reading Will Richardson’s World Without Walls: Learning Well with Others I think about how our jobs as educators are changing. No, they have already changed (just some are taking their time with the transition). If my job started out with the purpose of teaching the core standards of maths to teenagers, it very quickly morphed into something more like “Opportunity Maker” with a splash and a hint of mathematical focus. OK, massive oversimplification but Richardson was right back in 2008 and he is still right. I don’t always need to directly teach pages and pages of content to my students. I need to allow for moments of connected learning, where students are engaging in my topic with experts and learners from all over the world.

I started maths blogs with my 9th graders this year and so far it’s been a mostly one way process of individual reflection for each of them. To harness the mass of connections I need to help my students take a leap and get their blogs out there and connected to others. We have already signed up with Mathlete Blogs which is great, but we haven’t created a habit of posting or commenting yet. Jeff Utecht talks about lurking in his book Reach and I think that my students and I are certainly just lurking at the moment. We are watching and learning but we need to be more active to help the community grow and for us to learn too.

For my own professional growth I can see how I need to harness the mass of connections and put myself out there. This is certainly not the first blog that I have created but it is sure to be my most active. It is time to stop lurking behind the screen (does that mean no more facebook stalking?) and put my thoughts and ideas into words, open myself up to discussions, new ideas and potential criticisms.

It’s funny, I tell my students to be risk-takers everyday and not to be worried about making mistakes or voicing their opinions. Time to take my own advice.

8 comments to “What do we do with all this connectivity?”
8 comments to “What do we do with all this connectivity?”
  1. Hi Ange, I enjoyed this post, it made me wonder if I take my own advice! Your thoughts make me think of David Weinberger and his book “Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts are not the Facts, Experts are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room is the Room” It sounds like you do an awesome job of harnessing the power of the ‘room’ and of accessing ‘experts everywhere’.


    • Louise! Thanks so much for the article. The idea of letting go of the hard and trusted facts and allowing our students to see knowledge as something that is somewhat ever changing and evolving (and open for argument and discussion) is both frightening and exciting. But I agree with Weinberger when he says that it’s a “more accurate reflection of our condition as imperfect social creatures trying to understand a world that is too big and too complex for even the biggest-headed expert.”

  2. Hi Ange…Welcome to COETAIL!
    I will be interested in hearing how your 9th graders’ math blogs grow and develop. I’m also teaching 9th grade math (as well as IB Math SL). My school has just adopted google apps this year, and I’ve contemplated having my students keep blogs to better practice reflection and communication. So I’ll be lurking for a while to see what you do with your blogs.

    • Hi Wendy, thanks for the welcome message. It’s all a bit overwhelming at the moment!

      Some of my students really enjoy blogging in maths and are developing great communication skills. They are getting better at explaining why/how they know answers or why they chose particular strategies. I think that incorporating the blogging also helps me prepare better class activities. There isn’t much to blog about if I set 100 questions from the textbook so it keeps me focused on assigning tasks that are more inquiry based and open ended.

      I use the Teacher Dashboard from Hapara to keep track of blogs which has been a life saver (it’s works wonders with monitoring drive folders too!) The school needs to buy into it, but I think that it’s definitely worth it.

      I’ve added your blog to my list of math/s educators, thanks again for dropping by!

  3. Hi Ange,

    Welcome to COETAIL. With the hundreds of active users on the site, I’m sure you won’t have any problems with starting your mass of connections! Thanks for sharing Mathlete Blogs. It’s a nice resource for any math teacher/student.

    An alternative to blogging is to set up a Google+ community for your class. There are quite a few COETAILers playing around with this idea to facilitate discussion and sharing between students.

    • Hi Clint, thanks for the welcome.

      We have added Google+ to our Google Apps at school but I haven’t really given it a go yet. I’ve tried to but I don’t have a good understanding of the privacy settings and how the circles work and I felt so alone in there! 🙂

      I am a total Google nerd and need to get over this last hurdle. I got a fright over the weekend when my Nexus told me it uploaded all of the photos from my phone to my Google+ account! Luckily, they weren’t made public!

  4. Thanks Ange for telling us about the math blog site. Would would’ve thought there would be a site for math blogging?! (You can tell I’m a primary school teacher 😉 )

    Putting yourself out there is also easier if you Tweet people each time you make a new blogpost. Put the hashtag #coetail in the Tweet.

    Great to have you in Coetail


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