Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What I've learnt so far: the meaning of 'sharing'

‘…Sharing… it really starts with two

‘Sharing… there’s no comparing with give and take… you can share too!
‘… Sharing… it helps teachers grow
‘Sharing is really caring… ‘cause who you know… is what you know!
‘… Sharing… PLNs start with two
‘… Sharing… is just preparing, so that teachers can learn… with “their crew”
‘Sharing… it’s up to me and you
‘Sharing… now that’s the real clue
‘Sharing… is real daring, but I hope… I can count… on YOU!’ (Metcalfe, B. 2011. My PLN: A Teacher's Treasure)

To tell you the truth, when I got the meaning of the lyrics on this fantastic video posted on this blog, I didn’t like the idea of so much sharing at all. Why? Well, basically, I’d been educated in a competitive environment in which you don’t show your weaknesses at college, university or the workplace. That’s valuable information that can be used against you.

In my country, among other controversies, you’ll find out that, as a teacher, you’re trained through very traditional methods but then you’re expected to teach your students through the latest ones. For instance, you spend your academic life mostly attending lectures but then you’ve got to foster highly interactive, collaborative work among your students.

Anyway, I’ve learnt that when something upsets me, I must pay attention to it and try to find out the reason. The chances are that what upsets me is actually pushing me away from my comfort zone.

So far, I’ve been using OneNote and Evernote to keep my reflections and other stuff. I’ve never felt like sharing my weaknesses with people other than my mentors. Let alone on a blog like this one (this blog was initially just the visible part of my e-portfolio).

But then if you take part in a cMOOC, you’ll have to share the whole learning experience with others including your weaknesses. That’s precisely, I believe, what’s really daring. In a sense, it’s like being naked. So it takes some courage to show the world your erroneous zones. That is, in order to keep improving, you need to be aware of your own flaws. But that’s not enough along the lines of connectivism; you’ve got to share them. Otherwise, how can you expect others to help you move on? It’s all give and take; you create knowledge as you´re working collaboratively with others.

But in my case, I’ll have to find a way of giving more and taking less. I’ve recently gone through information overload (Thanks to Sue Waters’ tips I managed to stop the email notifications flooding my inbox this morning).

So in a way, I rediscovered the meaning of sharing. Brian Metcalfe couldn’t be more right. In a fun and inspiring way, he summarises what I think is the main tenet of connectivism; connecting with others through sharing; sharing not only resources, but also what you are. To do so, you need to learn to rely on others as they rely on you.


  1. I loved this quote: ". The chances are that what upsets me is actually pushing me away from my comfort zone."

    I've come to know that the best learning comes when you aren't in your comfort zone ,and you and I are both searching for ways to give back to the community in which we've gained so much from. This is an incredible, yet time consuming process. It is time to share my journey... with the world, including my students!

    1. Hello Jessica! Thanks for reading my post and writing a comment. What you wrote is exactly what I meant. I’m glad to see that I’m not travelling alone and that, among other people, I can share this journey with you. It’s time consuming and cognitively demanding, but it’s also rewarding, isn’t it?

      I suppose we’re not only travelling; we’re also growing as people. You see when I was at secondary school, an English language teacher, who was kind of snappy but really inspiring, used to tell us: “Boys, growing old is compulsory but growing up is optional. You’d better make the right decision in time; life’s shorter than what you think.” So I think we are here because we decided to keep growing up. I think that lifelong learning involves a never ending process of growing up and we’re part of that process.

      Don’t get me wrong; I’m really curious. I just can’t help it. I’d like to know what set off your journey? What made you start your search?

      By the way, I don’t know whether you realised how much you expanded my PLN when you were helping me out on the Twitter chatroom. Thanks again.

  2. Fantastic post, Max! I think you get right down to what is the biggest surprise - and greatest strength! - of PLNs: the generous and unquestioned sharing of time, resources, and support. I've been amazed by the depth of thoughtfulness in responses to my blog, or to follow up emails from people I dont know outside of this shared online experience. It's inspiring. I'm glad to hear you're reevaluating the level of your sharing; I'm doing the same. :)

    1. Hi, David. Thanks for spending your time reading my post and writing a comment. You’re right; I’m re-assessing my level of sharing. In fact, I’m re-assessing myself as a teacher and as an individual.

      To tell you the truth, when I interact with other professionals like you or Jessica, I become rather self-conscious. I’m not the outgoing guy, you see. So for me this first reflective post was sort of a quantum leap, do you see what I mean?

      I´m quite surprised at the positive comments I got. I didn’t expect to get any.

      I’ve been blogging before as an assignment for an in-service teacher training course. In that course (about 4 months long), though I was posting comments here and there, I got no comments from my peers and the tutor only replied to our comments on her blog or gave us oral feedback in the f2f meetings. She never wrote a comment on our blog. Besides, very few teachers wrote comments on her blog.

      Maybe, the issue was that blogging was compulsory but posting was optional. Maybe, my peers thought it inappropriate to write comments on another teacher’s blog. After all, blogging occurs within the social cultural context which the bloggers belongs in. I mean, when you’re writing you’re likely to make choices in terms of content (i.e. the topic and how you express it, the audience you’re addressing, etc) that in a way are determined by the society and culture you live in.

      In Latin America, despite all that is being said and done, hierarchies are respected and very few students would openly disagree with a teacher at tertiary level (i.e. higher education or university). I think this is quite an interesting topic to explore. I mean, how the context of culture affects our PLNs. It wouldn’t be an easy task because we should define first what it’s meant by ‘context’, ‘culture’, ‘context of culture’ and ‘PLN’…

      So coming back, your comment to my post in this second attempt at blogging triggered off lots of ideas… Ideas that I’m afraid I’ll have to leave momentarily unexplored because I’ve got to stay focussed on my initial aims.

      By the way, I watched your introduction and thought it was great. I wrote a brief comment on that on Google +. I can’t help wondering what it is that you’re re-evaluating. THANKS David.

  3. Thanks for your post, Max! It's my first time participing in a cMOOC, and I'm experimenting and learning the ways to connect, share and learn with others. I like this quote: "sharing not only resources but also what you are. To do so, you need to learn to rely on others as they rely on you". In my case, sometimes I don't feel comfortable because the main difficulty for me is expresing myself in English (and understanding...), but it's being an opportunity to face and overcome my own weaknesses, sharing my own process (no sé si me expresado bien...) :)

    1. Hello Gemma! Thanks for your comment. Gemma, this is my first time in a MOOC too! Please, don’t feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. Feel free to speak up your mind and make all the mistakes you need to make. We’re all learners here.

      I think that the quantity and quality of knowledge (‘knowledge’ in very broad sense) determine in a way the difference between a student and a teacher.

      Have you ever heard of this: “Teaching others teaches yourself?” Some people might think this is just another cliché, but I still think it’s true. In other words, when you, as a student, start teaching others, you further develop as a learner.

      Now, can you imagine how much learning is likely to happen if you substitute “sharing with others” for “teaching others”?

      “Sharing with others teaches yourself”

      So, if you need a hand with English, don’t hesitate and contact me. I’ll do my best to help you. I’ll share with you what I tell the students I teach: “I’m not a walking dictionary. I’m not your speaking grammar book. I don’t even know all the answers to your questions. I’m just a teacher, a lifelong learner. If you ask me something I don’t know, I’ll help you find out the answer and we’ll learn it together.”

      I hope to keep sharing this learning experience with you.
      Ah, me olvidaba. Si, te expresaste… ¡muy bien!:)

  4. Thanks for this post! It really got me thinking on what the meaning of sharing is. I love that there is a community of educators out there that is so willing to share and collaborate with others.

    1. Hello Mary. Thanks for reading my post and commenting on it. You know, I’m still a bit surprised. I’ve never thought I’d get comments.

      Anyway, I’m very curious and I’d like to know what ideas this post triggered off in you. Would you share those ideas with me? Hope to hear from you soon.

  5. Hi Max ... I want to thank you so very much for extracting the lyrics from my post "My PLN: A Teacher’s Treasure' at: and writing about your reservations on "sharing". I admit that teaching in Canada is far different than teaching in Argentina however I strongly believe that when one shares ideas and resources, one will eventually receive much more in return. Most educators I know are passionate about teaching and are more than willing to share. The Internet has facilitated this sharing process world-wide. Furthermore, I can see that your post and reflection about sharing has resonated with many of our #ETMOOC colleagues who are being so supportive by commenting. Who knows, in time, such individuals may evolve into your PLN so that you can continue sharing after the #ETMOOC is formally finished.

    I want to apologize to you and all the interested educators who have commented on my original "Teacher's Treasure" post. I'm delighted that it was a catalyst that encouraged discussion. However, I am brand new to Google Plus (and do not have a Facebook account) and, as such, have been struggling to understand the difference between "friends" and "followers", etc. I am slowly finding out that colleagues, like you, have posted reactions and supportive comments to their own blogs that I have yet to discover and to acknowledge. I am also quite involved in the Digital Storytelling DS106 MOOC at: which also demands my time. Although I am a retired educator, I find that there is not sufficient time to do everything to the best of my ability in both MOOC forums.

    However I want to thank you and the rest of this amazing "fraternity of friends" for the support and understanding as I continue on my learning journey.

    Thanks for caring and sharing!

    Take care & keep smiling :-) Brian

  6. Hi Brian. Thanks for reading my post and writing your comment on it. You don’t need to apologise at all. I can appreciate your commitment to the ETMOOC community.

    It is me who should apologise for not writing a comment directly on your blog. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t make up my mind at that moment. Your blog is so impressive… I believe that your whole life is there. Your blog’s like a living thing. I felt that when I visited it. I don’t know why I felt it was not appropriate to write down my ideas in your space – you see, old habits die hard…

    Now, I realise I was kind of reluctant to collaborate due to ‘old’ misconceptions or prejudices.

    I’ve just made an appointment to go back to your blog. I’m also interested in storytelling, you see. So I’ll be visiting you soon.

    As regards your video, I watched it several times since it really moved me. As I was watching it the first time, something happened somewhere in my mind. I’d been reading about connectivism; basically, Downes [] & Simens’ [] seminal papers, Should I call them like that?

    Anyway, I’d found it rather hard to understand some aspects of the theory as they put it forward in those papers. Then, your video made everything clear to me. What I couldn’t - and still can’t - accept is this question that knowledge resides in connexions.

    I’ve got a gut feeling that the human element in those connexions is the key ingredient. Yet, since I’m still reading and processing the tenets of this theory, I can’t advance any definite point of view.

    Besides, ‘sharing’ and ‘openness’ are two very important issues in my teaching context. I think I´ll deal with them in a new post, most probably after covering topic 4 (The Open Movement). I need to get familiar with Creative Commons and all that stuff. I haven’t got a clue where or how to start.

    In other words, your video helped me realise which aspects of connectivism I don’t quite agree with and how relevant some other aspects of the theory (sharing & openness) are for my teaching context.

    THANKS for spending your time sharing your expertise and ideas with me.

    … and I’ll keep smiling ;-)