Week 5 – The Journey to Becoming a Networked Learner & Educator


I would like to start this post off a little different. I absolutely loved the readings this week and want to list a few of my favorite one-liners.

“do-it-yourself professional development (DIYPD)” (Richardson 33)

“what we learn about how to interact with others online is just as important as what we learn about the topics at hand” (Richardson 35)

“Without sharing, there is no education.” [quoted from Brigham Young professor David Wiley, 2008] (Richardson 35)

“The people, conversations, and content that you’ll be immersing yourself in are distributed all over the web, glued together with the judicious use of links by the people you connect with.” (Richardson 36)

“serendipitous learning” (Richardson 37)

“planet-scale sharing” [as author Clay Shirkey (2010) calls it] (Richardson 38)

“What if you thought of Twitter as a place to share not just your life but the conversations and content that really make you think about whatever your passions are?” (Richardson 39)

“it’s not a race; no one is grading you, and everyone will travel a different path.” (Richardson 54)

“To teach is to model and to demonstrate. To learn is to practice and to reflect.” (Siemens [in quoting Stephen])

“An educator needs a point of existence online – a place to express herself and be discovered” (Siemens)

“Persistent presence in the learning network is needed for the teacher to amplify, curate, aggregate, and filter content and to model critical thinking and cognitive attributes that reflect the needs of a discipline.” (Siemens)

Honorable Mentions: “link love” (39); “digital footprint” (41); “The weblog, or ‘blog,’ is the granddaddy of social media” (50); “Facebook is the eight-hundred-pound gorilla of social networking” (52)

Now that I have that out of my system, let’s take a look at what I see as the most important areas of professional development for educators to become 21st century educators. I believe one of the most important areas for educators will be the development of their own DIYPD, or do-it-yourself professional development, as mentioned in Richardson and Mancabelli’s Personal Learning Networks book. This term fascinated me and I wasn’t sure why at first, and then I realized that I have always been a “DIPYD-er”, at least in the sense that Richardson and Mancabelli talk about it. I grew up connected. From an early age, I remember sitting at the computer desk with my dad, waiting for the dial-up connection to stop buzzing and making weird noises. I wasn’t really sure what that meant, but I didn’t really care either. All I knew was that when it finished, I could log onto AIM with my super-old, cheesy screen-name, zboarderxl1. I think I was 7 or 8 at the time. That is when I began building my network of connections. That is when I became infatuated with the digital world. I consider AIM my gateway drug. I then got hooked on Xanga and MySpace, and eventually Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogger, and just about every other social media networking application out there. It is a crazy world of connections, and I believe the first step in 21st century DIYPD is being connected and building a vast network of quality connections.

Being connected is just the tip of the iceberg. Richardson and Mancabelli provide an awesome blueprint to maximizing your potential out of your “networked learning environment” (35).

  • Passion to learn
  • Sharing
  • Quality, not quantity
  • Well-developed sense of self-direction
  • Balance
  • Reflection
  • Face-to-face networks

Start with your passion. Whatever your passion is, there is someone else out there that shares it. It doesn’t matter if your passion isn’t your profession, start with it, and then go from there. And don’t forget to share along the way. A link here, a quote there, maybe a video or personal opinion, work your way up to blog posts! An important rule to remember when you began making connections is quality, not quantity. It’s all about the type of connections you make, now how many. Once you get started, you may find yourself lost in world of links and unlimited resources. SocialMediaThis is where a “well-developed sense of self-direction” come into play. You must learn how to navigate this ridiculous, confusing, dangerous, and endless digital world. That may sound daunting, but once you catch the hang of it, don’t forget balance. Balance is key. Turn everything off. Don’t let your smartphone become handcuffs. I know for me, I sometimes find myself held captive by those tiny, little red bubbles on my iPhone that tell me I have a notification. It won’t hurt “going dark” every now and then and enjoying grass and trees, and this thing called the outdoors! Next is reflection. Pretty basic, reflect on what you are learning. Are you learning? And last but not least, the digital world is nothing without your face-to-face networks. What’s the point of being connected to someone on the other side of the world if you can’t share that information with your co-workers or next door neighbors? That’s it. That’s Richardson and Mancabelli’s blueprint to networked learning environments.

For educators, I feel building a personal networked learning environment through DIPPY is absolute necessary to becoming an efficient 21st century educator. While building this networked learning environment, you will come across and use so many tools, you will start to lose track of user names and passwords. I would recommend mastering a select few of these tools. Pick out 2-3 tools and really dive into the nitty-gritty and understand exactly how they work. Understanding this will not only help you to develop a richer network, but it will also allow you to better understand your students, as they have already mastered most of these tools. networked-teacher1Before I move on, I want to reiterate Richardson and Mancabelli’s point that they mention several times. Do not jump right into using these tools in your classroom. Become familiar with them. This is so important because if you don’t necessarily understand key terms or functions, your students may leave you in the dust during assignments or even worst, students may become disengaged because of the lack of usability by their teacher leading the assignment.

I’m going to end with another blueprint, one outlined by Siemens in his Connectivism blog post,  “Teaching in Social and Technological Networks“. Here he outlines what it looks like to be an educator in these networked learning environments:

  • Amplifying
  • Curating
  • Wayfinding and socially-driven sensemaking
  • Aggregating
  • Filtering
  • Modelling
  • Persistent presence

By mastering these seven fundamentals, teachers will began to transform from “controlling” a class to “influencing” a class and their learning networks. This is another essential element in bridging the gap from 20th century teaching/learning and 21st century teaching/learning.


Siemens. Connectivism. Teaching in Social and Technological NetworksWordPress, 16 Feb. 2010. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://www.connectivism.ca/?p=220&gt;.

Richardson, Will and Rob Mancabelli. Becoming a Networked Learner. Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education. Rosolina, Rachel. ed. New York. Solution Tree Press. 2011. 193554327X. pp. 33-57.


8 thoughts on “Week 5 – The Journey to Becoming a Networked Learner & Educator

  1. @Aaron, good point. If you told me two years ago, while I was still an undergraduate student, that I would be taking online graduate courses, I wouldn’t believe it. I was very connected back then, but I just couldn’t fathom taking college-level courses 100% online. I love the face-to-face connection. I like having the teacher physically in the classroom and being able to ask questions in person. I still am taken back here and there about online courses, even with being as connected as I am. There is just something about having a physical classroom community of students and a professor that will never be topped for me!


  2. Touché! Demanding does sound better in this instance. It’s funny, if you told me 20 years ago that I would be taking a graduate-level course online, I probably would have thrown my brick-size phone at you, lol.


  3. Thanks @Phil. I absolutely loved R&M’s Guideposts for Learning in Networks. The two that I really connected with were “passion to learn” and “balance”. Passion is super important to me and I feel it is such an integral part to life. Passion is energy. Without passion, life is boring! I think this plays into one of my favorite quotes, which I mentioned earlier in the course. “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” -William Butler Yeats

    I also think balance is just as important. As Sam mentioned, she noticed a picture of me playing on a slip-n-slide. Along with passion, play is just as important to me. You can always find me out and about, exploring, jumping off rocks, riding my bike, just enjoying the outdoors. I usually have my iPhone with me and document it here and there, but I stay unplugged as much as possible and find this to be very important.

    And if you haven’t already noticed, I like my honorable mentions. I feel a “well-developed sense of self-direction” deserves today’s honorable mention. This society is nuts. I just downloaded a new app made by Facebook today, called Slingshot. It’s supposed to rival the infamous, disappearing, picture-messaging service, Snapchat. Just on my iPhone alone, I have 31 social networking, messaging, and sharing apps. (I didn’t realize I had that many until I just counted. Wow!) And on each of these social media/messaging/sharing apps is its own timeline of some sort. Being able to navigate this never-ending stream of posts, pictures, and messages takes experience, patience, and a whole lot of skipping!


  4. @Zach – I like that you included R&M’s Guideposts for Learning in Networks (e.g., passion to learn) because I think that these function as valuable scaffolds especially for teachers who are uncertain about how to develop and establish their social presence via online networks. Which one or two of these resonate most with you?


  5. Aaron, I like how you say that the internet is now “commanding the respect it deserves.” I’m not sure if you meant demaning or commanding, but either way, I get the point. The internet was the underdog back in the day; it was sort-of the unknown, and people are naturally afraid of what they do not know. Now it is well known and to get by and live a life without, especially in a culture that relies so much on “being connected” – it would be quite the challenge.

    Sam, ah yes, you saw my slip-n-slide tweet! That was actually my first time ever on a slip-n-slide, and boy was that fun! And I never thought of that, as an invitation to others for networking but I can definitely see why. I’m always looking for adventure and different ways to life life and enjoy it, and I love meeting new people. I always hope that showed and apparently it does! Thanks!


  6. @Zach,
    You really did capture some of the best quotes! I also liked the “honorable mentions”. While reading the section of your blog about DIYPD I happened to notice a photo (tweet) of someone, who I think must be you, on a slip and slide? ☺ To me, this visually demonstrated (while also reading about it in your blog) that you’re still doing what you and your dad did many years ago and I think readers would also take it as an invitation/availability for networking! The text reminded me of the video Rethinking Learning, The 21st Century Learner: “Almost any kid that you look at and you say oh wow this is a great user of digital media you can trace back and there’s a parent, a program, there’s something that inspired them in developing.”

    I thought the visuals you provided in your recap of Richardson and Mancabelli’s ways to maximize your potential out of your “networked learning environment” were well chosen. I also respect that you highlighted the importance of self-direction and also finding balance between life “unplugged” and utilization of technology.


  7. You bring up a very interesting point, when you said you became hooked on the internet around 7-8 years of age. At first, it seems young to me, however I almost forgot that the internet was restricted in my house until my brother and I were significantly older (15-16 years of age).

    I don’t think I really thought of this until now, but I may have been part of the last generations that still had a choice to embrace the internet, or ignore it (and still get by). Now, I feel it is commanding the respect it deserves, as we rely on its ability to improve our lives, and enhance everything that it integrates with.

    Great interpretation on Richardson and Mancabelli’s blueprint too, btw. I feel that this is the foundation to making the jump from networked learner to networked educator.


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