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More Than Something to Share(ski): Make a Mark

Dean is talking again about sharing. Heck it’s in his name so its perfect, and worth listening when he says/tweets “I have something to share(ski)”. Take 25 minutes and watch his video Sharing: The Moral Imperative created pre-conference keynote for the 2010 K-12 Online Conference:

The kinds of stories Dean shares ought to be moving more and more from exception to norm.

But another thread stuck out for me.

Dean share(ski)-ed Dan Meyer’s path from experimenting with blogs as a form of mental outboarding (thinking out loud) to the explosion that happened around Dan’s sharing of his math graphing videos — Graphing Stories. George Couros, an elementary school principle, wrote an entry in his own blog about an activity his school put on, one that he in fact borrowed from elsewhere, but others were moved by the outcomes George shared about Identity Day so that schools from far away took it one themselves and connected over the shared power of the idea. Jabiz Raisdana who blogs in many spaces, e.g. Intrepid Teacher, decided when his daughter was born to create a blog to document her life from the start. Noting her interest in photography, he began posting Kaia’s photos and then they posted a video on her blog of a story they created as a video– on sending it out on twitter, her post was flooded with comments and colleagues elsewhere had their kids create video stories in response (argh, help me Jabiz, I cannot locate that first story to add a link! Thanks, added it above!).

Do you see the thread? These three stories all shared different things, but they were all shared in a blog.

When you blog, you leave a mark, a permanent link (if you keep up those hosting fees), but it can last forever (or as long as the internet does). Yes twitter and facebook enable connections, but they are ephemeral. Twitter and facebook can amplify and spread a message, but without a blog reference to hang onto, they will fade into the scroll pile. Just try and find a twitter message you said a few months ago. I’ve seen tweets fade from twitter search in a matter of weeks.

It’s not one versus the other, but these stories that Dean share(ski)s still pounds the message to me, that despite the claims of blogging being dead, that it is as vital and important as ever as making your mark, as your own personal think monitor.

From Dean’s videos were Dan Meyer’s words that the gaps in his blogging correlated to the same periods where he felt his teaching was perhaps more flatlined.

You cannot build and maintain a history in twitter. Yes I know there are tools to do this, but its not the same as having something more meatier and built out as a blog post, where you work out the ideas like kneading bread. And own them. Forever (or as long as….).

Call me old skool, but I will say til my last death grip post, the blog is where its at.

I also have to commend Dean on the multi-camera style he did for his video, very pro. I was curious where the clips where going showing him set up equipment, and that sly Shareski was share(ski)-ing subtly how he did his video, down to the iPad as teleprompter.

But do yourself a favor and watch the video and of course, share(ski) it and more…

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Dean, you did an excellent job on this presentation and message.

    There is one thing that I struggle with, though, and that is – are there only two choices? Sharing and hoarding? Is there not the issue of, as you point out with Dan, finding (and investing in) the time to share? And, is there not the issue of finding the time to learn the new technologies that facilitate the sharing? I’m not releasing folks from the professional responsibility of learning new tools and recognizing the value in sharing, as you point out so well. I’m just thinking that many who are not sharing in these new ways are not doing so because they are “hoarders”.

    I think your message is really helpful in making folks think of the potential benefits of their sharing in these new ways, not to mention the benefits THEY receive because others were willing to share in these highly public and easily accessible spaces. I think this is the message we need to promote over and over as the “non-hoarders” realize the impact they can have by learning how to share their ideas and work in these new ways… and committing time to do so. Thanks for your message.

  2. I absolutely agree that the blog is what holds “it” all together. I like to call it homebase for all my social network wanderings. Where ever I go I will always bring people back to my blogs, becasue that is where I have set up shop for the long haul!

    So much so that I think teachers who want a foot in the door of what this sharing could look like, should start by blogging. We created this:

    Anyway, thanks for sharing this story.

    Original post btw:

  3. @Steve- I don’t think Dean said or suggested it was “sharers” vs “hoarders” – in fact he said by nature teachers generally share offline.

    There are many reasons why people don’t share online in the manner Dean describes, lack of awareness, fear of “not being worthy”, concerns over time, fear of taking on something new, etc.

    The “not having time” I find an empty argument. If you look at the stories, Dan did invest a lot of time in his videos, but he was going to do that anyhow. George simply described something he did. Jabiz posted something he did out his personal time devoted to his daughter. The *sharing* part, writing a blog post, take little time- it is essentially the same task many of us do daily in writing email- open the computer, type into a box, attach documents or images, and click a button.

    The difference becomes when, as Dan clearly describes, is when sharing online becomes the natural reflex, like “why wouldn’t I do it?” And they key is the ways we can help more teachers (and students, and doctors, architects, plumbers) have this reflex. The gateway is that magic inflection point when someone else finds, uses, and notifies the creator of a use of their shared content. It never, ever fails to ignite a spark.

    1. Quite true. Dean did state that very clearly. But the message does become mixed when not sharing in these new spaces is intertwined with hoarding at the end. I’m not trying to find fault at all… just something that struck me and that I think is important to clarify.

      I think your points re: not sharing online are very valid. My own students often struggle with this idea of their content not being good enough, or “worthy”, as you put it.

      I think the “time” argument largely goes away when the technology is no longer a mystery or struggle and the value of sharing is understood. But honestly, it does require additional time to take one’s ideas and work in the analog world and digitize it in a meaningful, sharable format… especially when things like wording and expression become so important in an asynchronous medium like blogging.

      That natural reflex part is key, for sure. And, if one thinks one’s work isn’t “worthy” to share, then perhaps it’s time to create more worthy work 😉

      Thanks for the pushback here.

  4. i am all for sharing. completely all in on this. but i still think we have to be mindful of the person who blogs and has no readers as this is where everyone starts. to build an audience, you have to really work the ropes to get known or get lucky. you have to use Twitter, almost certainly. you have to follow a lot of people hoping they’ll follow you back and it helps to be active enough to be interesting so that folks will want to follow you (or pay attention to your tweets leading to your blog, for example). this isn’t stuff that the typical teacher will do even if they like using technology in general. i push my students to join this community, but most teachers don’t even know about this world. and i realize that all of us can point to some teachers who are building a network quite well. but the best examples of using the Twitter and blogging worlds come from well known figures who blog something and get a huge reaction or a small time player who is retweeted by a big time player; not from the typical teacher starting in this endeavor. teachers in my classes regularly blog and i rarely see a comment on their blogs beyond what i leave. i try and show them the possibilities, but those possibilities are only reached through hard work and dedication to this work flow. there’s a pretty large digital divide between what a person with 4000 followers and 200 followers and 0 followers can do. i really try and play up the notion of using Twitter to grow professionally by learning from others and following key people and doing targeted searches as i think that’s a great use of Twitter. however, the typical teacher who poses a question on Twitter will likely see that question go unanswered and it’s hard to stay enthused if you are ignored too long when sharing. hopefully, just following interesting folks will keep teachers and educators involved long enough to start building a PLN of their own.

    1. @sean dont forgot the 10,000 hours rule of thumb- this does not come immediately. To get good at something you have to work at it.

      First, the reason for blogging out to be firstly NOT to get an audience reaction, but to be one’s own audience first. I continue to write primarily for me, and to have that SEARCH box I can use to find my ideas and thoughts from months, years back. It’s journaling.

      Second, blogging and twitter is more than what you create and broadcast, it is the whole participatory layer of activity that feeds back.

      But I do realize the challeneg you describe, how to convince someone to try this when in the beginning they will likely get zero feedback. The answer there seems to be not to ask people to do it in isolation, check out the effects Alec Couros does in his teacher ed class where he use his own stature to help lift that of the students in his class. Or the stuff Will Richardson et al are doing with their PLP communities. Doing it alone is tough indeed. Travel with a net.

      1. yeah, Alec Couros is exactly who i am thinking of when think of when i mentioned “big time player” above. he can do incredible things for his students, which i cannot do for my students. and most teachers or future teachers are being taught by professors who have an even smaller PLN than i do (if at all). that’s the divide i am thinking about. i think it’s great that Alec can make a request for mentors and feedback and get it; that’s awesome! seriously. but if we think about the millions of teachers out there, we’re talking about an extremely small percentage (less than 1%) who have the benefit of having an instant “in” like Alec can provide.

        but i agree that this whole effort shouldn’t be just about being able to get feedback from your PLN; rather, we can share and have an audience of 1 — ourselves. for example, i started my blog more than 5 years ago and i still think it’s largely just for me and my students as i doubt i get much readership beyond that. perhaps a person finds something i wrote about Moodle or Drupal 2 years ago with a Google search. great! in the end, my small world model is fine with me and i learn by being able to see my progression through the years.

        1. @Sean – This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, in particular, questioning how scalable/transferable/translatable my/our networked approach to teaching really is. As you know, I am very fortunate to have connected myself to so many good people that have selflessly assisted my students in teaching, learning, and growing. I’m a bit with Allan on this that it’s not something that happens overnight, but admittedly, I’ve also had the advantage of being an early adopter with some of the technologies. As well, I’m quite sure I’ve had much luck along the way – serendipitous connections to some great people and opportunities at the right time.

          However, what you write at the end is exactly what I preach to my students. Learning networks do not need to be huge to be effective. If you’re lucky or skilled enough to have connected to those that are
          caring, responsive, passionate, perpetual learners, you’re doing well. I’m lucky, that individuals with those characteristics form the core of my network – and they help drive, support, and inform every innovation I undertake with my students.

  5. I don’t want to blog, and I don’t want to leave a mark. I like ephemera. I like that if someone thinks I’ve said something important, they have to take it and make it their own. They can’t just bookmark me for later.
    My blogging experience was not positive for me. But worse than that, is that every time I try to share that, I’m accused of being overly sensitive. I’m told “most” people have positive experiences, and I’m the outlier. It’s a horrible feeling, and I know I can’t be alone.
    I’d like to see research on educators blogging, and their thoughts on the experience. I’d like to know what they learned. How much of the shared knowledge is about how to use social media? How much of the positive energy transforms into positive action? How is this really affecting the kids? What does it mean when we say we are better teachers because of this?
    I’m anxious even writing this comment, because I know it’s different from what most people feel. Chalk it up to my sensitivity.

    1. @Jen,

      That is the beauty of this un structured net- you have a choice which path to go, to leave a mark or not. I believe it is important to leave a mark, and I do, you don’t and you don’t. And the world goes on.

      Yes you could do research. You will find results on both sides of the fence. I did mine when collecting my first sets of Amazing Stories, and I heard definite impacts on students that were not about the tech. I could talk to more people and find negative experiences. You could do this forever, trying to get an absolute empirical result, or you can do as what good teachers do, and go in the directions that give them good results in the space they know.

      Be your ephemeral self, that’s the person I like.

  6. Jen,

    I hope that everyone can define and figure out how and when to share. I’ve never been one to tell someone how they should share.

    My argument is also based on the idea that as a paid employee, you should have obligation to share. Moving beyond “I just teach the kids in my room” needs to happen. Not sharing practice is somewhat selfish. If you believe (you may not) that teaching is sharing, it just seems natural to me.

  7. Dean, I’m not critical of your presentation or the premise. In fact, I had forwarded it to a class of students before I’d even finished watching it. I agree that everyone needs to discover how and when to share. Most of my work is funded with federal dollars, which automatically puts anything I create in public domain.
    I’ve always promoted transparent professional practice, and made it a point to never be indispensable. (Don’t tell Seth Godin!) I do think it’s important to share. I just think we need to think more critically about the practices we’re establishing.
    I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to blog. That doesn’t mean I don’t share. I question power and influence, as well as quality. I question if we’re developing systems that provide emotional rewards for blogging, and no rewards for people who do other important work, like making a difference locally. Are we creating a new elite?
    As a parent, I’d rather have my kids’ teachers spend extra time getting to know the kids, than trying to build a personal audience and network of people who all share the same beliefs. I know some people find value in blogging, and that’s fine. I just think there should be more respect for the people who make an informed choice not to do it.
    I also think that when we teach sharing, we need to teach that not all sharing is equal. You can work in a soup kitchen and serve meals, or you can donate a can of expired lima beans. They both make you feel good and help people, but are they equal? When teachers new to this medium first begin reading, do they assume all sharing is positive? I can tell you that the #edchat discussions on Twitter are often disturbing and don’t get enough criticism.
    I’m not opposed to blogging, for anyone. It’s not for me, and I know there are others out there who feel similarly, though for many different reasons.

    1. Jen – you’re correct, not all sharing is equal. But not sharing something is equal to not sharing anything (whether it’s your time spent in soup kitchens, or sharing a math resource).

      As for respect for those who don’t share – I respect their right to do so, but I question the practices of those who do not share digital resources who do not have a reasonable argument. For instance, I believe professors/teachers paid by public dollars should share their work – that it’s their ethical obligation to their public. However, I sympathize with the contract writer who does not choose to put her book under a CC license. I also sympathize who do not want to put their lives online (e.g., lifecasting) as these are very personal choices made by individuals, parents, families.

      Your choice not to blog is yours and yours alone as an individual. However, complicate that with a particular profession (e.g., public educator), then I do think the (ethical) choice becomes more complex.

  8. I wonder if we’re thinking about blogging as the verb as opposed to the noun. In this case, I think we’re talking about a noun.

    I think, and Alan can correct me, is that his point here is that you need some type of personal space to share. It’s a space that can easily house “your stuff”. If you’re a photographer, flickr is the place you store and share your photos. The blog simply is the most versatile tool.

  9. Hmmm. I’m maybe not convinced we need a personal space to share our stuff. That sounds like one of those parties where every course is served at a different house 🙂 Sharing seems more like something released of ownership into a common space. Maybe identity and commons are conflicting ideals. (Or maybe I’ve had too much caffeine.)

  10. Is this a zen riddle?

    Cause you have to put it *some place* to share it, I don’t know where this “commons” is?

    I don’t give a rats fart where you share things, as long as you do.

    Stuff on my blog is openly accessible and sharable if it were anywhere else. Same for my photos on flickr, my crappy youtube videos.

    My point is, I challenge you to tell me what you shared on April 24, 2007. I cannot find anything I tweeted then, but because I have my own (open) house, I do have my marks

  11. It kinda proves my point. My post is useless. There’s zero value in it hanging around. Who cares what I shared on that particular day? Because I was sharing publicly, the post is just a passive-aggressive rant with no context. Maybe if I’d put it in a private journal, I’d be able to go back now and read why I was ranting and who caused me to feel so deflated. But if I hadn’t been able to share a post from that day, what then? Would people think less of me? Am I less important if I don’t have a place of my own to put my stuff?

    1. @jen – As I (sorta) mentioned above, I think there is a different between personal ‘stuff’ and stuff you’d share as an educator. The post was certainly personal, and would, maybe, have less value for someone else.

      However, I’d argue the post does have value (you’ve ironically proven that by posting it). And, since you’ve published it online, you’re no longer the only person that gets to decide whether or not it has value.

      1. @Alec I get a lot of requests to republish my old blog posts and to start blogging again. Most people tell me I don’t get to decide whether it has value. They say I can never tell when I’ve influenced someone. But I would have to say that there is just as much opportunity for harm as good, right? If one of the reasons for openness is that a single person may gain benefit from your sharing, isn’t it equally likely a single person could be harmed?

        @Sean I’d use caution when measuring influence based on system representations of connections. Most social media applications and services are designed on behaviorist principles, with the objective to influence consumer choice. Alec’s influence is not because of the 9000+ followers on Twitter or thousands of blog subscribers.

        If you’re looking for numbers, I’d look to the 300 or so he’s met in person who’ve had a chance to recognize his passion for what he does and his genuine interest in their work. Within that cluster, there are probably 25-50 who are equally influential and trustworthy who amplify his messages.

        You don’t need thousands of connections to have a positive sharing experience, but you do need genuine one-on-one interaction with multiple people. Simply putting your work out there, without socializing around it, as well as the work of others, won’t have a similar impact.

        1. Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten so many comments .

          @Jen I hope you know I do (and still do) respect and value your viewpoint, even parts I disagree with or don’t full understand. I think we have slightly different ideas about what it is we are talking about sharing.

          But you’ve given me some good points to reflect about because I do tend to drink the koolaid that all (appropriate) sharing is good.

          We live with the dualism of potential for good vs harm in every aspect of life; if we decided based on either end, we might run out into traffic or never leave the house.

          I do like your closing phrasing of what has made Alec’s network as potent as it is, that it is foolish to think all one has to do is post and tweet, and stand back and wait. That is the active part of “being there” I’ve tried to emphasis; that it is critical that you participate in other people’s spaces, and yes, both online and in person.

          It also brings home that we tend to think there are singular ways to do things, when really in such a complex ecosystem, there are many ways one might achieve “success”, that what works for me, may not be for you.

          Thanks everyone for the conversation.

        2. Equally likely? Definitely not. Likely? Maybe, but I don’t think so when it comes to sharing digital resources.

          Again, I’m talking about openness in terms of digital resources (which could be ‘content’), not of sharing ‘feelings’ or descriptions of emotional states. That’s a whole different kind of openness, and not something I discuss often.

  12. I completely agree we have the potential for harm or good in everything we do, or don’t do. That’s why I’m saying the potential to have a positive impact is not a strong argument for sharing. I’m sure there are lots of strong arguments, beyond koolaid.

    I’m sorry I sent your post off track. I think I didn’t stick with the original intent and spirit of the post. Hopefully it didn’t cause harm. 🙂

    1. CogDog

      Now I don’t know who the moron was that made the above comment ;-), but I’m not prepared to make a more intelligent comment in this discussion. I’ve since done my homework, watched Dean’s *entire* keynote (instead of skimming past his ode to Wiley), and read the entire thread. Amazingly, it only took me 6 days to do this. Oy.

      @ Dean: Very well done. I think you’ve done an excellent job at promulgating Wiley’s message that we, as educators, have a moral responsibility to share what we have learned with others. I think Wiley, however, extends things a bit when he also distinguishes between privileged cultures, or those with means being obligated to lift those people and cultures possessing less means for education. I know that many of these discussions or opportunities simply don’t take place in less affluent cultures because greater problems occupy their minds (like hunger and war).

      Consequently, I think that the strong have an obligation to lift the weak. For what it’s worth.

      @ Jen: As one promoting the idea that “every teacher should blog”, you’ve given me a lot to think about. I’m particularly impressed with your take because I’m realizing that your argument is exactly the point I was trying to make here:

      “I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to blog. That doesn’t mean I don’t share. I question power and influence, as well as quality. I question if we’re developing systems that provide emotional rewards for blogging, and no rewards for people who do other important work, like making a difference locally. Are we creating a new elite?”


      I’m also with you, btw, on the whole #edchat thing. Like many things social media, it often feels like we’re simply shouting out to the ether. Again, I’m reminded of infinite typing monkeys.

      Nevertheless, Jen, I think that because you have such quality ideas (and you’re not afraid to call it like you see it), people really appreciate that you’re willing to put your thoughts online, in searchable form, and they’d love to be able to get their regular dose of injenuity. If I were you, I’d take that as a compliment and play the blogging/social media game however you’d like to play it. That’s one of the beauties of the current web, isn’t it?

      @ cog dog: Thanks for hosting this party. You have an enviable way of making people feel at ease while commenting on your blog.

      I’ll admit, though, that I’m puzzled by the picture of the squash at the top of your blog. Is it a flavor that dogs are particularly fond of? 😉

  13. I first saw this thread somewhere around 17 comments and have been thinking up a response all day. Now that I am here you are all at 28 and talking a bit in circles. (A problem with blogs I think. Things get convoluted after about 20 comments)

    Instead of writing a proper response, I will share my thoughts and ideas not in an objective, thought out, or systemic way, but in a free, loose, poetic, poorly punctuated, rambling way, on a smattering of things that will hopefully shed a modicum of light on this conversation.

    I share anything and everything that comes across my path in life. I think edtech is a bit dull and boring, so unless it is something exciting my students are doing in class, I seldom share things about education.

    I use a variety of tools to share my insights, my observations, and random-amateurish-mediocre talents at film making, music, photography, and writing. I like to create content that brings me closer to other people. Unlike most people who feel they have nothing “important ” to say, I feel I have nothing but “important” things to say. If my life is dull, meaningless, and unsharable, then I feel I am doing something wrong. Value, I feel, is what we add to everyday life.

    I started off wanting to meet the big players and have conversations with the big fish. Thinking that the more connections I could make with the big fish, the more authenticity my ideas and work would have. This is no comment on the Edtech “gurus” but I have found that building my network, slowly and on my terms has proven much more effective for me. My readership is small but loyal and connected. I have found several teachers on “my level” who are doing some amazing work both in and out of their classrooms. We are not worried about conferences or selling books. We are not even soley worried about education. We are worried about the world and life and art and parenting and and and… get the point. That is why we share. That is what we share.

    When I gave up the dream of a big network and worried more on authentic connections is when the magic started. I have too manny stories to share, but I can say that despite my attempt to forgo the big wigs, I have hung out with both Alan and Alec, and I have met Dean. Oh and Jim Groom dreams about me. The reason I have made these connections is because I have found these to be the big fish that would help me grow, because we share similar ideas and philosophies not because they have big networks I want to sponge credibility from. Not bad for a small fish. While Jen and I have never met, I see her as the devil on my shoulder soulmate. She has made me see so many things I take for granted in a new light. I will find you and meet you Jen, just be patient.

    All of these connections and ideas swirling around have come because I have convinced myself and apparently a few others that my world view and ideas have value, becasue I say they do damn it.

    Forget blogging or not blogging. Once again we are tied down to the tool, I just want to throw as much of myself up on the web and see what sticks. Who is digging through what? What connections am I making with the pieces of myself I share? that is what matters to me.

    Not sure if that answers anything, but I do want to end by saying I want to see as much of Jen online in whatever form that takes, because your ideas and voice mean a lot to me.

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