The Wisdom in the Room

It used to be so easy to be smart.  Seriously, all you had to do was learn lots of trivia, know how to do a variety of things, be able to quickly recall information, facts, and figures, and people figured you iStock_000020019232XSmallknew it all.  Well folks, the world has changed.  The Internet knows a lot more stuff than you or I do or ever will and it’s doubling every 18 months or so.  We must learn together to become wise!  Why then is it that a lot of learning continues to be isolated and static? How can individuals possibly compete with Youtube, TED, Twitter, Google, Wolfram Alpha, and many other sources that we can now hold in our hands to access whenever we need or want to?

I participated in a conference led by George Couros with about 100 principals/vice principals (#cpvpa) from #sd43.  Some of the deep thinking and resources shared can be seen here.  I’ve worked with quite a number of these folks over the years supporting their learning and progress with technology and social media.  But, I’ve never seen as many of them dive in, join twitter, and make the switch from lurker to contributor.  This may have been a tipping point. One principal Karen said…

How can I start and put myself out there, so I can embrace risk-taking on global media?

It was amazing to sit back and watch the risk taking unfold.  Congratulations #sd43 #cpvpa on taking the leap.  I tweeted earlier today “We talk about making student learning visible, now #cpvpa we need to make our learning visible”.  That’s what this is really about and modeling this new way for teachers and them for their students.  It really changes what “showing one’s work” actually means when it’s on a public stage.  Whether using text via a tweet, writing through a blog, or some combination with pictures and video, it’s a powerful way to communicate, share, and learn from one another.  Think about students sharing their learning in this way.  What impact might 1000’s or 1000000’s of views with comments have on their learning?  How can feedback from teachers or parents compete with the global room?

The room has grown in size.  When I went to school, it fit about 32 people comfortably and there wasn’t always a lot of wisdom to be found.  Now that the walls of classrooms have largely disappeared… I’m getting ahead of myself, most classrooms do not allow for full iStock_000016399116XSmallengagement in learning in public, because we don’t let them.  Perhaps there are privacy concerns, fears, no time to change practices, lack of knowledge, lack of understanding of the value of learning different.  The message this weekend for district and school leaders is they need to model the changes that are important for learners and clear the way for others to do the same.  I love this video that George shared to encourage people to overcome their fears and to take that first step…

The reward that one experiences after trying something new, especially something scary, is amazing.  Having been a downhill sort-of extreme mountain biker for years (recently switched to something safer given my age…), I understand what this is like when facing some new crazy stunt.  Apply this to beginning to Tweet or to start a Blog, and the feeling can be similar.  This happened like a wave this weekend with many new principals hurtling themselves into Twitter and committing to starting a blog – it was exciting to see!

So, about the wisdom in the room.  The idea here is that together we’re better, together we can solve our own problems, we can teacher one another, learn from each other, and experience a collective wisdom not ordinarily possible alone.  Those that don’t tap into the room are left out.  Alison shared…

I like the idea of getting more people sharing. We will all become better if we work together and collaborate.

She is right, “we will all become better”.  About the room, I’m not referring to a physical room but rather the global space you tap into through Twitter, Blogging, Google Plus, Youtube, etc.  If we don’t social networkparticipate in these spaces, we miss out, and we will increasingly become irrelevant.  Contributing only in spaces where you are physically present, won’t serve you well.  You can’t connect with 1000’s of people at once in person – you likely don’t know 1000’s of people that well even if you had the time!  You need to create your digital identity and start to connect, share, and contribute online, or you may just go unnoticed in the future and you won’t be a participant in the room.

Part of going public like this is being a real person.  I love the statement George made about people who sign up on Twitter and don’t add a profile picture.  He said “If you’re an egg, I won’t connect with you!”.  For the illiterate, an egg is what Twitter shows for your account if you don’t add a picture.  This might seem trivial but it’s super important to be yourself and show your true self so that people can engage with you, a real person.  Don’t be an egg!

So what’s holding you back?  Take the leap like the girl in the video above.  Find a friend or colleague who knows more about this than you do.  As Frank said in his “Putting the Plan into Action” referring to help he might need…

It's in the room and in my PLN on twitter.

Ask your local room and PLN to help you get started. Then just do it! Redefine yourself, join the global room, tap into and contribute to the wisdom.  Soon after, you won’t understand how you lived without this!  See you on twitter (you can find me @bkuhn).


  1. Hey Brian,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments and actually providing the "pressure and support" in this one post. From what I saw this past weekend, I know that your group has amazing things to share, but now it is a matter of whether I will be able to see it and grow from it as well. I am thinking that I saw the "tipping point" as well.

    Thanks for the post!

    1. It's pretty interesting to be leaving SD43 at this time. I think there's enough inertia now with my CPVPA colleagues to start to really change things up. I will watch and listen with excitement to how things unfold in the future. Thanks for the energy you added to the mix, it got people moving... look forward to connecting with you again soon. We really should talk about Vancouver once I get a sense of the things there.

      Thanks George!

  2. Brian,

    Thanks for the synthesis of our weekend. It was a great motivator for me and has me off on another journey already. Thankfully my PLN got a good boost this weekend, as I know I will need the support in the coming years!


    1. It was tough to synthesize - there was so much to connect with hey. You really get it Frank - your PLN is your greatest source of knowledge, help, and ideas. I look forward to learning from you in the future buddy.

  3. Sounds like a fantastic learning experience...
    I agree with your comments about the excitement and satisfaction that you can experience by leaping into the world of social media for learning. Whilst daunting at first, those who have taken the plunge rarely turn back. The big challenge is to inspire the rest of the education community to join the conversation.
    I think having an online identity is really important in developing a positive digital footprint. I'm often amused that people create cartoon avatars or use pictures of their pets when they are online for work purposes, yet they post photos of themselves online showing them engaging in social pursuits. It's almost like these people are shy and embarrassed by their professional selves.

    1. Hi Shane. It was a rich experience. I'm seeing far more participation post conference from our principals/VPs than ever before on twitter, blogging, etc. I think the conference really impacted their perspective on the value of social media for learning, sharing, developing. I think this has a leveling up or magnifying effect - more people in, more will see the value, and so on.

      Ya, I was hassling a colleague this week who had an "egg" for his twitter account... :-)

      thanks for contributing here!


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