doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Learn Like Nobody’s Watching

My apologies for the blatant rip off of the text one of my daughters used to have hanging on their bedroom wall.

“Dance like nobody’s watching; love like you’ve never been hurt.
Sing like nobody’s listening; live like it’s heaven on earth.”

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably got a good idea of my learning habits.  One of the things that I do is personal reading first thing in the morning over a cup of coffee.  It’s my personal time for reading.  It started when I was teaching at the university and I used it as a way to illustrate social and shared reading to my students.  When the course was over, I stopped oversharing in this manner.  It was then that a follower, not from North America, contacted me to ask why I’d stopped.  Apparently, me sharing my reading was one of the reasons why she followed me.  I had another observation from another person –  “Zite curates technology and education; @dougpete curates Zite; we just have to curate @dougpete”.

And, the rest is history, I guess.  When I was introduced before my talk in Sudbury, it was noted that I’ll share a blast of reading first thing in the morning.  I wasn’t aware that this person was even following me.

The current directive to ETFO and OSSTF members about self-directed professional development also figures into this discussion.  Traditional PD for some means going to a location once a year for a day or two and sit through someone else’s collections of Powerpoint slides and leave knowing that you’re good for another year.  Doesn’t self-directed make so much more sense?

At the same level or maybe marginally better are the Twitter advocates who are “power users”.  You’ll see them when they need to sell a good or a service.  Or, you’ll see them “please use this hashtag for today’s session”.  That might be the only time they even use Twitter until they give another session and them remind people what a power user they are.

What’s got me on this rant?

This morning, during my readings, I shared this article.  “Why Every Teacher Should Use Twitter”.  I remember reading it, nodding my head, and decide to share it and tuck it away in Diigo.   As it turns out, my original post was retweeted and retweeted.  It seemed to strike a chord with others.  The irony was that it was shared with Twitter users who already get it.  I had two thoughts as I noticed the retweets.

  1. Why are we still having this conversation?
  2. The people who really need to read this aren’t on Twitter!  Hopefully, the excellent post will be printed or something so that the target audience reads it.

It’s a good article and I hope that it lands in front of the eyes of people who need to read it.

I also started to think of the people who talk about “building their PLN” and wondered about that too.  Is it important to intentionally build one?  Or, do you just go about your own learning and sharing and let it happen.

I don’t mean this to be a name dropping thing but during the dog walk tonight, some names came to mind.

These are people that I either don’t know or have met once or twice.  And yet, somehow, we’ve found ourselves learning together.  Not once did I ever set out to learn with a teacher-librarian in Australia, a jogging principal in Northwestern Ontario or a Canadian born ELL teacher in Switzerland or any of the others.  And yet here I am today just following their learning and perhaps they mine.

Could that be the answer?  Just start learning and see where it takes you?


7 responses to “Learn Like Nobody’s Watching”

  1. […] Dance like nobody’s watching; love like you’ve never been hurt.  […]



    When we were told that we could self direct our PD this week (due to job action), i was over the moon – real PD instead of an indirect book sale! Then job action ended and we’re back to prescribed PD. Makes me want to go to an Edcamp or unconference just to not get talked at like I’m an idiot. Friday approaches and I don’t get to be a voice in my own PD (again).


    Yesterday on library duty I was having a chat with our librarian about the state of the union (see what I did there?). I suggested she look up hashtag #osstf to see what is currently being talked about – the tweets came up and she was the first one in the school to discover our contract had been OK’d by the Minister… she had that aha moment. She saved the tweet search, but you know what the next step will be… if you use Twitter enough, the value is self evident, people only need to find ways to access it – I keep sending out search links to staff saying you don’t have to be on Twitter to see this… it’s working.


    One of the nicest surprises in having a PLN form are the unexpected connections. There’s a danger in over curating it – it’ll end up becoming what you think you want instead of what it might be. The happy accidents are some of the strongest learning opportunities.

    Finally, are you going to the elearning/digital mobility conference in Kitchener on Monday? Hope so!


  3. Well, I must confess :). As you may have noticed, I “favourited” that link to read later, which I did. But I didn’t RT it. It is saved in my files ready for whenever someome asks a question related in any way to the title of it 😉


    1. Thanks so much, Sheila. I appreciate it.


  4. As ever, you’re right on, here. I think sometimes I talk about “building a PLN” for people who need that kind of framework. I didn’t really intentionally set out to regularly read/comment on your writing- it just happens to resonate with me; I tweet stuff that hits certain receptors with me, in the thought that it might work for someone else. I, too, am loving the opportunity, after years of top-down PD, to learn the stuff I want to, the way, and when, I want to.


  5. Tim, thanks for the thoughtful reply. As for the event in KW, I did not know anything about it. So, I guess that means the answer is no, I won’t be in attendance. That would have been a great day. I hope that you enjoy it.


  6. […] Learn Like Nobody’s Watching ( […]


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