I keep a stack of post-its on my night table. What teacher doesn’t… right?

Often, I will get ideas in the middle of the night that rattle me out of sleep. The ideas sometimes are so random in nature that when I look at the scratches with my full attention the next day, there still is no way to interpret their meaning — the moment of inspiration passed, the dream faded. There has even been once or twice when my imagination came back to an idea over several evenings. Usually, then and only then do the small yellow squares with obscure scribbles and words form a clear enough picture of my sleepy intentions to do something cool with them.

I have tried to focus in those twilighty sessions, but that ultimately leads to being fully awake — and when an idea gets a hold of me at 2:00 AM, guaranteed I am not getting a decent night’s rest. So in the end, scribbles, a shape, or a vague word is what I go on.

The other day I looked at a note from the night before and could not make sense of it right away. Somewhere between taking the dog out and my second cup of coffee the letters made sense, kind of. The I, Q, and b lead me to Inquiry Based … learning, well I assumed learning and went with it. It was still problematic though, connecting letters to ideas was easy, what I was thinking when I wrote it, was messing with my mind.

Mornings are pretty busy during the week and staying on track with routines is a priority, but I also knew that IQb was not going to unlock itself. So, I chose 5 members of my PLN and posted out, looking for ideas, resources, and direction. These tweeps are all rockstars in their own right, but collectively I knew that something cool would happen by reaching out to them. Within several minutes Rolland Chidiac jumped in. Soon after Jen Giffen, Will Gourley, and Derrick Schellenberg threw in their supports. Not only did they share but they riffed off of my questions and added their own spins to it. Definitely a masterclass here.

My constant curiosity has connected me with hundreds of people that I do not physically encounter in my daily stompings. Connecting to them, through Twitter and Voxer in the digi-hallways has become so ingrained in my day that as soon as my iPhone falls below 30% I get a bit nervous. Professional development and  FOMO compels me to keep my devices close and my contact list active. My sometimes-almost-hourly inquiries have become the greatest asset to my learning. This is mostly due to the fact that when I learn, I move very quickly from curiosity to trajectory, to people-connecting, to interacting, and then reflecting and writing. Along the way, I set reminders and timers for follow up. All of this is made possible with my current edtech toolkit and PLN.

…online collaboration that is “sustained over time and supported by specialists results in improvements in teachers’ attitudes and beliefs, teaching strategies used…and students’ attitudes and behaviour, and students’ achievement.”[6] Max Cooke of CEA

Since hearing George Couros’ talk at #yrdsbQUEST back in 2015, where he convinced me that everyone should have a digital learning portfolio and PLN, I have ardently pursued and posted my process. The iterations have flowed from personal paper journal, to Twitter, to public blog, and now a podcast. The shift is necessary. Our board has been moving into this modern learning frame intentionally over the last few years. And the cool thing about my PLN…it constantly and positively reminds me of the questions that I have yet to ask and it constantly and positively reminds me of the human elements necessary to learn socially.

Constant connectivity creates a really cool opportunity to change how we speak about modern learning. This dialogue it will require new words, phrases, and possibly new value systems to accredit the learning that now is at the fingertips of every teacher and student. I have been swept up in the TED Radio Hour Podcast and found an inspirational and aspirational episode on open-source sharing. As I deconstruct and reformat my fundamental understandings of modern learning, I move further into a zone where education is no longer about what you know, or even where you learned it. Instead, in our experience of learning we should be questioning:

What is my relationship to what I know? What is my relationship to the person I learned from?

What could/should I do with what I know?  [or can’t because I don’t]? What is my obligation to act with the knowledge I possess?

Where will I openly share my experiences? Can I be comfortable being the ‘only’ sharer?

What have I learned from the process, about the process, to add to a new process next time?

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