Circles, Spaces and Ripples


On Twitter, global connections are common certainly between educators (think PLN) and increasingly between classrooms.  Social media is making such connections possible and from most accounts, desirable.

At my school, however, the stance is still to be wary of the outside world.  Connections via Video Conference are de rigueur but connecting widely through other means or even events are less common.  Collegiality and social media (via Microsoft Sharepoint) are promoted within the school.

I questioned this…of course.  My ‘conclusion’ is that the school has a point.

When I worked with an English teacher on a Blended learning approach (see related posts here and here), I was reminded yet again that learners have to feel safe for optimised learning.  This doesn’t mean not taking risks but rather, perhaps in a Vygotskian Zone of Proximal Development fashion, the leap cannot be too far away from one’s comfort zone.  The class didn’t want anyone else in until they were comfortable enough with blogging themselves.  Their teacher also new to blogging but certainly keen, wanted an even smaller circle – just her and me.

I use Twitter and this blog for my professional networking.  I use facebook mostly for family, nearly all are overseas. I’ve got another blog for my crafting hobby.  I once set up a Weebly site to connect with my class parents. I’ve also got a few emails all serving different purposes.  And yes, more than once I’ve seen these circles overlap and the separation sometimes does not make sense.

My point here is this. This is not a case of isolation vs. globalisation.  Connection is a spectrum. Or maybe, a universe as spectrum sounds linear and connections and networking are far from linear.  We need our own space as well as spaces we can comfortably share with the different circles we belong in, reflecting the relationships we have.  There is logic in Google+ Circles and Posterous Spaces (and yes, I’ve got those too).

So then, it makes sense to have something just within the school. BUT, it also makes sense to connect more broadly and even globally.   AND, it also makes sense to allow the individual student his/her space to call her own – the centre of a circle (Concentric circles of learning).  All these must be facilitated and enabled.

As shown in the photo above, circles ripple out, connect and overlap, each with a middle. Foster communities, for sure but also foster the individual so the individual does not get lost in the sea of connections.

Does this make sense? What do you think?

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4 thoughts on “Circles, Spaces and Ripples

  1. Jeannette James says:

    Stunning image btw! I endorse your concept of ripples; rather like 6 degrees of separation really. Not only do students have a right to be safe but I guess parents too, have a right to expect the school learning environment to actively assist this. I’m talking about primary and junior students here. F2F and within the wider community. I feel this analogy rings true here: when teaching kids to cross the road safely, one does not remove the cars. Equally though, we are concious of the cars. We guide and support for a time while practicing on “quite and safer” streets. We don’t ask a 3 year old to cross a highway alone.

    • malyn says:

      What a great analogy. The stepping up, the differentiation – taking into consideration what is age-appropriate as well. thanks much.

      And yes the rippling effect. In Twitter, sometimes we wonder whether or not it’s worth RTing those with thousands of followers – ditto in blogs – but really, that’s part of the rippling…reaching further and wider yet again. And when we do this for little fish (like moi), it’s just plain awesome. Thank you for your support, Jeannette.

  2. onepercentyellow says:

    I struggle with this closed/open circles as well. On the one hand I can certainly understand the desire to have one’s mistakes made in a testing ground. This is why we practice our craft at home before we take it out on the street. The lesson in preparation, patience, and refining our ability is valid and very important, but I fear that much of school sets itself up to be practice for a show that never comes. I’m loving ECI831 and the utter openness of the whole thing. It’s scary to be out there for anyone to see, but at the same time it pushes me to acknowledge my imperfections and shows me that there are forgiving people in the world! With the encouragement to continue to share, I want to share something better and it becomes a motivation to improve.
    Those close and closed circles are important, but so is the pushing outward of those circles. I think you’ve hit a nice balance here. 🙂

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