Tag Archives: CCK08

CCK08: The Role of the Teacher

Alright, so I’m in my Saturday morning yoga class and, doubtless due to the CCK08 influence, my mind wanders to noticing the structure of the class and the role played by my yoga teacher.  This is a class of, roughly, 25 adults, who come together for a 75-minute class once a week.  This instructor (Cheryl) is in her early 50’s – a very experienced yoga teacher – with a regular and devoted following.  

For those of you who’ve never been in a yoga class, here’s how it works.  You arrive on time (it is a serious etiquette breach to enter a class already in progress), put your yoga mat down on a spot on the floor, and then the instructor leads you through a series of movements (poses) designed to give you a full work out that, if you work hard, will lead to better body alignment, greater overall health, relaxation, and a scad of other benefits (both physical and spiritual).  

Yoga classes vary widely – different practices and traditions – but they also vary with the personality of the instructor. I like Cheryl very much.  She’s efficient, clear, and no nonsense.  Some instructors are ridiculously hard – asking students to contort their bodies into these impossible poses way beyond the level of the possible.  Others are way too easy and lax, taking forever to work through the simplest of things. And, to my supreme annoyance, some instructors give you little mini lectures at the beginning – about their auras or their diet or their mantras (whatever…) – which is waaay more information than I need on Saturday morning.

So, today, I paid more attention to my instructor – what did she say and do to make the class flow so logically and expertly from beginning to end?  What is it, exactly, about this class (and about her) that works so well?

So here’s what I noticed. I was very taken by the instructor’s precisely decriptive language.  Some of the yoga poses are quite difficult, requiring steady concentration and continual adjustment to make them work for you.  I became aware of the way that Cheryl’s descriptions really helped me hone in on a mental picture of what I was supposed to be doing.  For instance, in a lunge pose she described how my back leg should work like the rear leg of an easel, supporting the front and taking all of the weight.  That image worked for me – and my lunge improved.  

Later she described how we could use the centerline of our mat to adjust the centerline of our body and how to fous on a distant object in order to achieve a more comfortable balance.  She used a number of useful analogies during the class – think of your breath as a colored fog, use your thigh muscles like a lever, let your head hang down like a rag doll.  Each analogy, each verbal description moved the physical along a path closer to her goals for us.

Yes, I can do yoga on my own.  I can read about it in books, get online and study photos and videos of the poses, I could even join a yoga social network to deepend my practice.  All of that will work for me but I can also see the extraordinary value of the teacher.  She had a plan for that class this morning, she lead us through it briskly and efficiently, she guided me when I slipped off target, she clarified with her words when something was muddy, she answered questions as they came up, and she sent all of us off, right on time, in a better place than we’d been when we started.

How satisfying.


Filed under CCKO8

CCK08: Qualities of Connected People


Girl Mailing a Letter

Originally uploaded by Smithsonian Institution

After reading Jenny Mackness’s blog entry about her 82-year old mother (loved it), I started thinking more about what human qualities help to insure our connectedness. And are these qualitie that can be nurtured, developed, enhanced? Surely, indentifying the qualities of well-connected people would be step #1 in coming closer to being a more well-connected person myself?

So, after reading about Jenny’s mum and her church, golf, and dog-walking friends, I began to complie my own list of well-connected individuals.

I had to start with my friend Liz Dorland. Many of you may already know Liz…that’s just how well connected she is. I only met Liz a few years ago at a Gordon Conference on visualization. But since that initial meeting, Liz has introduced me to more people (and more interesting people) than many whom I’ve know my entire life. Liz is a faculty member at Washington University, she is a scientist (chemist), she is a teacher, a mother, an active citizen of Second Life, and a member of many (including this one) online communities. But membership is just opening the door. Liz walks in the room and begins to work it . The room is brighter and more interesting when she’s there.

Next up on my list: Chalon Bridges, a publishing editor that I’ve had the pleasure of working with for four years. Like Liz, Chalon knows many people and adroitly connects them to each other. She seems to have boundless energy and applies it prodigiously to the task of moving through her network and expanding it. I am always struck by her openness to new information; she’s like a sponge, eager to soak it up.

Giving us a tidy triplet, I have to add my father. His profession, through many phases and faces, was sales. Primarily working in the medical field, he networked among health care professionals. He remembered names, interests, and preferences as if they were his own. Key to his success was his ability to make people feel comfortable and, in their comfort, see the advantages that were so perfectly clear to him.

Reflecting on my observations, as I watch these three people network, here is my first stab at the qualities of a connected person:

– They move adroitly between groups

– They remember people’s key interests/areas of expertise and then connect the dots when they encounter someone else with those interests

– They regularly give sincere credit/compliments to people for the things they do well

– They don’t waste words or time – each encounter is action-packed

– They are articulate – making connections and the advantages within those connections clear to everyone

– They are good listeners

– They understand the dynamics of social interaction…the give and take

– In most interactions, they lead with the “give” instead of the “take”

– They have their eye fixed on the long-term (as in, this may not pay off right now, but over the long-haul, it will)

– They have a way of making people feel comfortable and open to new experiences/people/processes

What would you add to this list?


Filed under CCKO8, Technology Trends

How Connected Am I?


79 emails at 6:00 a.m. this morning.  Another 20 by 7:00 a.m.  And then 100 when I checked again at noon. They’re streaming in – ack!  And all of them sporting the tell-tale “CCKO8” tag.  These are the participants in George Siemen’s and Stephen Downes‘ Connectivism and Connective Knowledge course (CCK).  

The participants (1,000 + of ’em) are from all over the world (see the Google Map, showing locations thus far. Above a shot of it, as of today) –  Israel, Brazil, Wales, the Netherlands, Texas, Arkansas, Austarlia, New Zealand – good grief, there’s someone from Iceland!   

The course is a twelve week adventure designed to explore the concepts of connectivism and connected knowledge and their application as a framework for theories of teaching and learning.  In the course, we will all be walking our talk by making use of social networking tools – blogs, page flakes, twitter, UStream, and Elluminate.  There’s even a group meeting place for the course in Second Life (on Chilbo Island).  

Each week will begin with a series of short readings, podcasts, or video recordings by both instructors. Participants will receive daily emails, summarizing the existing conversation.  There is a course blog.  The Elluminate session will happen on Wednesday and Friday will be the weekly concluding event – a live debate/discussion with the authors on UStream. 

We, the participants will be asked to post weekly reflections on our own blogs, participate in moodle forums, comment on the blogs of others, write short reflective papers, and give a final presentation on the topic:  “What is the quality of my learning networks:  diversity, depth. How connected am I?”  

And that’s the heart of it for me.  How connected am I?  I will be asking myself that for twelve weeks – and I fully expect to be waaaay more connected 12 weeks from now than I am now.

So, my first impressions?  Sound FABULOUS!  This is just the kind of immersion that I needed – the kick in the pants to read all of these articles, posts, and blogs that I always mean to read but never seem to have (make?) time for.  

Add to that my overall impression of George Siemen’s work (another FABULOUS) and then there’s my observations of the participants themselves – such range, such diversity, such energy!  I just love reading the cavalcade of short bios they’ve posted on the course moodle thus far, bristling with excitement and verve.  Programmers,  IT professionals, curriculum designers, teachers of all stripes and backgrounds, technology mentors, writers, editors – the list goes on and on. But regardless of profession or training, there is one vital, common thread – a desire to think more deeply and effectively about learning and to connect to others that do. 

Boyhowdy, this is going to be great.

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Filed under Technology Trends