By Dean Shareski

One of my favourite lines from the Cisco video “The Human Network” is

Welcome to world where people subscribe to people, not magazines.

There so much about the sentence that rings true everyday for me. The ability we have to connect with each other, not simply as learners but as humans is what is so completely revolutionary that is changing the world. As we connect and share, learning often takes care of itself.

The New Jersey PLP network has been talking about the personal side of learning in a discussion called “What’s your story?” The idea was to have folks share there personal stories of technology; not necessarily as educators but as everyday people with families, friends and and interests the go way beyond school. Here are a few examples of how people have used technology to share and connect in personal ways.

We use a family Christmas wiki where we all share wish lists. It is fun to watch what my nieces add – it gives me insight into who they are becoming and their interests. My friend doesnt live near her grandchild so they use Skype for bedtime stories….Sheryl

Earlier this year, my wife and I traveled to San Francisco with her parents to attend a family wedding. Several weeks before we left, I began placemarking famous San Francisco sites in GE on my laptop, knowing that I would have my laptop there. A few days before the trip, my in laws were at our house and we began talking about our upcoming trip. I turned to my laptop, and we began planning out our day, virtually. My in laws could not get over how “virtual” GE was. We searched for restaurants near the hotel, placemarked them, and noted what other sites were close to that restaurant. Knowing that my parents were staying at my house babysitting my kids while we were on the trip, I also saved the placemarks on my home computer. I gave my dad a quick tutorial with this before we left. While we were in SF, we called home frequently to report our location. Dad ‘flew’ around SF and found our location, sharing the exacts sights with my kids. Really neat stuff!…Scott

Our families are spread out all over and rather than emailing pictures individually to each family, and writing a note we decided to create a space for all of us to share what was going on in our lives. It has been great! Not only for my husband and I, but for our children, their cousins, aunts, uncles and everyone else. It has been wonderful for all of us to share our lives, in real time, with one another, more so than we have done in years, and a wonderful way for my 83 year old mom to be connected to everyone far and near….Robin

I’m reminded of a blog post by a grandmother, (Ewan Mcintosh’s mother) who was so thrilled to be able to see her grandaughter and stay a part of her life even though she lived far away. It’s been my experience that when people begin to understand how and when to use a technology to enrich their personal lives, it’s not long before they begin to see how it will enrich the lives of their students.

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Dean Shareski

Dean Shareski is an author, educator, speaker and coach. He taught K-8 for 15 years as well as 8 years as Technology Coordinator in Canada. He has supported the PLP network at various times over the past decade. He also served supported Community Engagement and Principals for Discovery Education throughout North America. He has over 12 years of experience in online instructional design and teaching. Working, teaching, learning and living online gives Dean a unique perspective at this moment in time.
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