Thursday, January 27, 2022

Documenting, sharing and amplifying learning

Today was my first PYPC Book club - and how lovely it was to see some familiar faces there!  Of course an hour is never really long enough, but it was the motivation I needed to read further in the book A Guide to Documenting Learning.  After the book club, I started to read chapter 5 and to think about sharing and amplifying and how this can link to action research.  

I thought back to when I started writing a blog in 2009 - I also reflected on the "whys" of this.  I know at the time this was not a popular decision in my school for a number of reasons:  blogging was new so lots of people were wondering why I wanted to do this; also as I reflected on my practice I shared not just my successes but also my struggles - this wasn't seen in too good a light by the school admin who felt this could reflect poorly on the school (I then went back and removed all references that might identify me and the school including the country I was living in - but of course it's hard to be completely anonymous as there are many ways people can "find" me online).  Finally I was accused of personal branding by one member of the admin, even though at that time I didn't have my own domain name and was simply blogging under the words Tech Transformation.  I'm glad I persisted though - for one thing I got to meet Silvia!

Certainly I can say that sharing led me to becoming a better educator - as the sharing involved a lot of reflection and decision making about what I wanted to share.  As Silvia writes, "sharing and amplifying is about making one's learning visible to others with purpose and meaning."  Also, as I found out when I actually did some action research with Silvia's school, it's about inviting others into the learning process.

There's a difference between sharing and amplification.  For example when I first started blogging I did it just for me.  I was the only audience of my posts.  They were online and anyone could have read them, but how on earth would they find them?  Fortunately right at the start of this process I joined a blogging alliance and committed to reading and commenting on the posts of other bloggers in the group (there were 50 of us).  This was the first time I started to interact with educators that I had never actually met.  Of course, writing for myself had its benefits as it helped me make sense of what I was doing and reading and reflecting on this took the learning out of my head.  At the start, I was also involved in a face to face professional book group across 3 local schools that met in the pub in the evenings.  That dialogue was useful as well.  Amplifying the learning goes beyond this however - it can be meeting people we don't know in a conference or using a virtual platform - and this has the ability to further stretch our thinking as we need to consider many new perspectives.  Also presenting your work to an audience that is unfamiliar means you tend to produce higher quality thinking as it's a risk to "put yourself out there".  For me, because putting yourself out there was frowned on by my school, I initially avoided Twitter and linking back to my blog.  Later on, however I was enthusiastic about joining in the #pypchat, which increased my personal learning network, and more recently I have joined several Facebook groups all associated with education.  Publishing on my blog is also a way of documenting my own learning journey, and it still amazes me that that some posts that I wrote years and years ago continue to be read over and over.

Here's the interesting thing from this chapter however:  sharing globally cannot include only sharing in one's mother tongue or with people who speak your own language or who come from your own cultural perspective.  You must do more than simply put your artefacts and learning journey online - you also have to include a purposeful global intention because deeper learning takes place when you welcome different viewpoints and perspectives.  So for me this is raising even more questions - and the most important of these is how?

Photo Credit:  Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

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