My name is Brian and I am a lurker. I admit it I have a problem.  I have built up a professional learning network that I use for classroom ideas and to find out what new things are happening with technology in and out of the classroom.  As Jeff Utecht states in Reach, “As our world continues to shrink due to globalization and as online communities continue to take hold, the learning potential that the web offers continues to grow.” I do use the web and my professional learning network to improve myself and to create the best lessons for my students, however, until now I am not a “prosumer” only a consumer.

I found this TEDtalk about the power of networks and how they make people smarter. We all need to harness the collective knowledge of those around us to make all of us better/smarter. I guess this means as a lurker I am getting smarter but not helping anyone else improve themselves.

What I struggle with is self promotion. How do I show off what I do well without sounding egotistical.  PLN’s are about making connections and getting my name out there so I can share the information that I have. I need to work on making myself known in the big wide world of the internet but also in my school, which is very keen on developing talent from within and giving people opportunities to explore their interests. I need to make it known what I am good at and also what I am interested in doing. Utecht states, “The more active you are within a community the more visible you become to other members. The more visible you become, the more potential connections are created.

Activity = Visibility = Connection opportunity.”

The lesson I am learning is that I need to make myself visible.

While reading Living and Learning with New Media Report, I realized that teenagers haven’t changed over the years. It has always been “the kids these days” whether it was listening to Elvis or the Beatles or MTV. Kids will always rebel against their parents in some way.  It is expected, and that is how they learn to become the adults they will grow into. But it might not always be “rebellion.” Perhaps kids are the innovators and are willing to adapt and learn, as opposed to parents and teachers who resist change. We, as teachers, need to keep pace and teach students how to evaluate, create and use media responsibly. We don’t need to teach the students how to use technology per se, as they can learn that on their own. I just need to watch my almost 3 year old successfully navigate an iPad without any help to know that is true. I agree with Utecht when he writes, “Content that we, as educators, need to teach our students how to consume, remix and produce. Whether we like it or not, or agree with it or not, the Internet is becoming the place we turn to for information. Yet, very few of our classrooms are teaching students how to consume and produce information in this new medium.”

The Living and Learning with New Media Report helped me realize how teaching students to become responsible creators really encompasses best-practices in education: “Messing around is often a transitional stage between hanging out and more interest-driven participation. It involves experimentation and exploration with relatively low investment, where there are few consequences to trial, error, and even failure.” My classroom is inquiry-based, which allows learning to be based on interests that connect with bigger concepts and relies on a low-risk, collaborative environment where mistakes are learning opportunities and we build our understanding together. I always introduce new technology with a “messing around” phase that I later connect to their learning. This allows students to gain confidence in the technology, which they ultimately use as active participants who create content and demonstrate their understanding in a way that is best for them.