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Achieving Sleep/Network Balance

Achieving Sleep/Network Balance
Time and space are probably the two notions that have been disrupted to the core in our networked learning scenario.

Today I read these three posts intertwined in a conversation. They create a space of their own.

Graham Wegner's
Alan Levine
Three Blogger Dinner in Adelaide
Russel Montgomery
I'm loving this

My comments and rants

I'm loving this too, Russel. About teachers not catching up with this... well, probably that is not the main point. If any of us stopped syncing with the network (via blogs, readers, Twitter, you name it) for a week, we would start feeling rather old, slow and badly in need of updating. But that is not the point. Teachers do not need a crash course in tools, they need to learn to think outside the box and realise it is worth checking a few blogs or run a Google search to find a better, social and networked way of doing simple things. With a difference.

I'm also wondering about sleep/network balance. Networking takes up working time, family time, no matter how seamlessly integrated blogging is in your daily activities. It is one more thing you do. Sleep is essential to have an alert mind to process so much information coming in so many new forms. So we are talking about life/work balance, which is something worrying every employer who finds his life has been hijacked by office work -making them findable and on duty anywhere, anytime. It's an aching working scenario many of our students will plunge into one day.

Social networking needs tweaking. This is another instance of learning. Please do not hurry to call this a literacy -we'll see. For the time being, it is vital to learn how to make decisions of when to connect, how to connect and perhaps, most importantly, who to connect. Is that an art? Maybe.
It is the art of planning for serendipity to happen. It is a way of ensuring meaningful conversations for you and your network.

Graham says,
"Build your network with care"
So true. But networks have to be as organic as possible. The nature of knowledge is distributed and so should be the network that allows us to make a reading of it all.
Knowledge is constructed in conversations taking place with ever changing nodes in the network. Talking to the same experts for years forms groups and sustainable communities of practice. Not bad; it's simply not enough. Networks to me are about expanding your learning possibilities. It is interesting to note that most edubloggers would agree that the wider your network, the more you can learn or know. But if you look at their RSS feeds, they are certainly reducing the number of subscriptions to the 'essential' sources. Paradoxical; yet natural. There is simply limited time to deal with all that.

Alan says,

"In my years of doing this stuff, pre-blog, even pre-web, there is nothing like having a face to face meeting with people who have known only online; and I have been saying on this trip, I have never been disappointed, surprised because I already know them."

To a certain extent, I agree. I have met a few Argentinean bloggers and I have certainly not been disappointed. If you know how to read their blogs (this is a literacy), you already know them. But it is necessary to observe their distributed presence. Go further into how they manage the "being there-ness". Some people change a lot once they start emailing what they dare not publish (for fear of jeopardizing their jobs, for instance). On the other hand, some awe-inspiring blog writers, make poor presenters of their own ideas. I'd rather read their blogs!

It does make a difference to know how a blogger creates a presence for a distant reader. It makes a difference to me to read Alan's tweets when he is worried about the rain and his trees - I can understand those feelings. I have lost an irreplaceable orange tree. It makes a difference when he is humourous about people not getting it. It certainly made a difference to me when he quoted one of my posts and took my mind further into the conversation. In a sense, I know Alan.

There is probably nothing like the thrill of a face to face meeting. Yet, the more I browse, the more I understand what a network means -as different from a group- it is clear to me that the things we may need to read the most are going to come from people who, perhaps, will never ever meet face to face. It will be more of what Alan calls being-there-ness. Making a web scenario a here and now for a meaningful conversation.

With a bit of luck -and quite a few extra dollars to afford any ticket from Buenos Aires, I will meet you
one day. Hope so, really. But I seriously wonder. Sadly.

The blogger's time management is instrumental when we want to talk other teachers into the conversation. The first perception people have about publishing your thoughts is the amount of time it all must take. So true. I cannot say my blogging (by which I mean, reading, updating, tagging, commenting, analysing and synthesizing in posts) is an activity that can be done in, say, one hour a day. And there is family and health to take care of. And jobs. And why not a totally unrelated hobby (like dancing tango) that can make us feel good about being playful. People immediately feel their time going away and the old adage ..."I like what you do. Actually I would if I could, but..." closes possibilities.

Teachers have an urge to get things done. Agendas, planning, curriculum. Teachers are used to dealing with the unexpected in the classroom. There is no time to say, "Wait, I should connect to a few people round the world and then see how we can solve this globally". Blogs are about the process; teaching -for a wide majority of people outside the "network"- is about getting things done fast. It's about resourcefulness, making do with what you've got (filters and all). We know it can be done pretty faster with a network (that takes a bit of time and patience to build!).

I like helping other teachers to get into this, but until the question of time is solved, I realise my message with be lacking in fundamental things. I can play the devil's advocate with myself. I can easily be challenged with posers such as:
  • How do we moderate the disruption this new way of learning brings along?
  • If I dedicate so much time to this, can I say I am modelling a new kind of teacher? Or am I just a representative of just one kind -which need not be the best or the model?
  • How much time do you dedicate to your networked learning?
  • Can you get things done with this network that never sleeps?

The answer is definitely not to go back to a simpler world. Cutting off does not help. The world is complex; but so much more engaging.

These are -no doubt- interesting times to be a teacher in.

Image attribution
Sleeping Bo
by joi
by paal

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More than anyone, you have convinced me that some time soon I will Twitter.
I couldn't see the merit in it because I simply wasn't interested in updating my status on Facebook, so why would I bother telling strangers what my status is? It seemed to me to be disruption in the process and 'flow' of what I was doing. Now, thanks in large part to you, I see it is a node... A valuable way to connect in a meaningful network... but ...the issue of time is killing me. 30-50+ e-mails a day; Hours of work to do for two big presentations I have in a couple weeks; A class-less program to create tracking and reflection tools for; New classroom curriculum/grade; Developing a new Grade-wide project on Ning; family; a social life (I actually got away with friends this weekend); Student Leadership retreat; Student Leadership Council meetings; Learning Team; I could go on, but the most alarming thing... no exercise and feeling like I'm in the worst shape of my life.
Then comes the online life I lead. No secret to some in Argentina, Bombay, Cairns, or Denmark... but miles away from the teachers in the rooms next to me.
And worse yet, when I help others, it is their time, not mine that is an issue... I am not alone in feeling the crunch!
I'm going to be minimalistic online for a bit... but I hope you'll welcome a new 'twit' into your network after I get through the next couple weeks:-)

You say,
"some time soon I will Twitter"
Deal! Looking forward to it.

Actually, your comment could be 'translated' into several tweets. You have just solved the riddle at the end when you say "I'm going to be minimalistic online for a bit". That could well be 140 characters. Twitter can help you create a presence when you have a slow blogging style. So between post and post, you let others know about the projects on your mind.

So far, so good. That could take a few seconds per day. But mind you, the network is active, lively, inspiring. It can give you a timely answer to one of your thoughts and save you hours of searching. It simply drags you in!

So if you are flooded with work, tweet but do not read the back-tweets. Do check the 'replies' button just in case someone addressed you directly. That's all.

About that Ning site...That's an entire other post. I do think you should tweet it.


I agree with yo entirely. Until i can solve the time puzzle I will have a minimal impact on colleagues. They simply are not prepared to put in the time that I do.

The root of the problem is that we are trying to live in two worlds. The old one that we inhabit with our colleagues and the new one that we are building.

Somehow we have have to, I think, get our colleagues to see that we are not saying "do more" but "do it differently"


Firstly Claudia - thanks for commenting on my new blog www.lietze.edublogs.org.
Secondly - you have identifed the stuggle that I believe all bloggers face (well those that have a family). We need to be wise with our time and get the sleep needed. I think we should only create a post if it is authentic, not just copied and added to from another site. It would serve us well to create a niche blog - posting about something quite special.

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