Expanding Our Boundaries….by Sitting on the Edge

The edge of my ZPD that is…

I’ve just returned from a fabulous two days with Will Richardson in Toronto, at the Expanding Our Boundaries Conference. I was invited to be part of a tech team helping the 100 people or so with a hands-on BYOL event.

I LOVE watching people teach and learn. It’s the exhilarating (and sometimes exhausting) part of my teaching journey…that I can be 20 years or so into it, and still be learning so much in order to hone my craft! Will did a great job of providing a lot of options to many different learners and the two days supported what I believe about the co-learning that can go on whenever experts and novices engage together in the learning process.

He had us all on the edge of our ZPD in one way or another:

-many folks were trying out Web 2.0 tools like blogs and wikis for the first time, and were led through step-by-step demo-style and with help as needed from the tech team
-a mix of expertise at tables allowed the novices to watch and use the expertise of those right beside them

-dialogue was encouraged in the form of collaboration at tables or in the online chat that went on throughout the day and was archived here
-many of the ‘experts’ in the room spent their time branching off on tangents and networking to push their learning

So for me, I spent my time engaged in the presentation while continually dropping out to help others and then jumping back in to catch up. I actually really loved that, as it was a good blend for me as a learner and I was definitely in “my element” as Sir Ken Robinson might say.
I’m sure that there was a lot that I missed, but now I’ve got that chat archive to go back to whenever I want and my new network of incredible people to support me when I need something….just in time learning, basically. Check out Kent Manning’s experience where he so wonderfully captured the networking that went on over these 2 days! He mentions so many of the wonderful new people I’ve met and I really hope that my PLN continues to grow with these folks! Check us out on Commun-IT, I really look forward to the future of this network.

I had some “ah ha” moments too. The biggest for me was the idea of using my network more efficiently to drive my own learning. I have been aware and participating to varying degrees in online spaces (social networks, using rss, IM, skype, email, wikis, blogs) but when Will described this “vibrant learning space that cannot be matched in the physical classroom” and provided me with a couple of new tools to leverage and integrate those networks, the lightbulb went on. I didn’t ‘get’ Twitter before I think I might have a new addiction…but what the heck!

So, I stayed up way too late last night, got my TweetDeck going, set up my igoogle page and moved my feeds from bloglines so they stream into my browser homepage along with some better connections to the things I’m working on (docs) and the people who help me learn (chat, email, social networks). I also cracked Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky which has been in my ‘to read’ pile for ages!

Other new stuff for me:

and who could forget: http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/

So, I am trying to manage my own learning in this “world where content is not scarce”, as Will mentioned this weekend, in order to help my students and my own children build their PLN in exciting f2f and online environments…an exciting challenge!

Aren’t you glad we aren’t alone in all this? I agree with Doug we need each other! ๐Ÿ™‚



  1. Hey Brenda,It was great to meet you at #expbound. I enjoyed reading your reflections. Coming from a starting point farther along the continuum than most of us, it was wonderful to hear that you also gained some value from the workshops. By the way, that ‘edge’ you are sitting on – that is the leading edge. Keep moving it forwards!Tweet with you soon!Shannon


  2. Thanks for all of the help at the conference – actually am starting step by step since my brain has cooled down a bit…twittered once, used google reader and am now storing my information on my cloud…all the best – great conference! kathrin


  3. Very interesting observations, Brenda. It sounds like you had a long night setting up your new learning environment. You've made some very good choices in the tools that you've selected. You've got a broken link on the tree octopus connection. That's a great bogus site. I've got a page of them linked from my "Internet in Your Classroom" page on my wiki http://dougpete.pbwiki.com. The bogus sites are online at: http://www.gecdsb.on.ca/d&g/iiyc/bogus.htmWhile it's entertaining to take a look at them, it's disturbing to think that less than literate folks are using and quoting the content at face value. Recently, on television, I saw a report on a fake IRS site just in time for tax season. The designers of this fake site are phishing for US Social Security numbers. This opens up a whole new world of things to become literate with. It will never end, I suspect.


  4. Shannon,Thanks for sharing! There’s always something new to learn..that’s what makes it so much FUN! Learned to zoom in my screen on the mac…even that makes my day! ๐Ÿ™‚Glad to have met you and will keep on twittering. ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. Hey Kathrin,Great progress! Just take what seems to make sense for you and the rest will begin to come along.What’s your twitter name?Brenda


  6. Great to meet you and discuss future plans for Digital Storytelling. Thanks for sharing your experiences, and wiki.Barbara


  7. Brenda,I can’t remember a time when I’ve been so connected and excited after a conference. I’m still waking up and thinking about the many amazing PLN’ers I’ve connected with.Now some would say, “Kent, get a life” but I really think the Expanding Our Boundaries “meetup” was the one conference I’ve been waiting for. Since the conference my learning connections been so intense and satisfying. I’m glad you are a part in my learning…See you on Twitter…Kent


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