Things I Know 299 of 365: I had a great conversation with Dean

A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years mere study of books.

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I’ve been reading, watching, and listening as Dean Shareski has been documenting the Learning Project he’s been completing with his students. The idea was inspired by the 100 Hour Challenge from Ewan McIntosh complete with these rules:

  1. Learn a skill, concept or idea you know very little or nothing about but that you’re interested in learning
  2. Document the learning. Write about it, video tape, audio record, whatever.
  3. Consider all the sources you use to learn. Collect those resources.
  4. Take a early baseline snapshot of your understand at the beginning and another one at the end. Compare and analyze.

If you haven’t been watching it unfold, you should.

The idea of asking students what they were interested in learning and then giving them space to learn and reflect is pretty tremendous.

So, I set up some time to talk to Dean. I was curious to hear his thoughts on his learning as a practitioner going through this project and try to figure out how it meshed with my experiences from the semester. While I don’t deserve many of the kind things he said in the opening to it, Dean’s posted a podcast of our conversation here.

I love talking to Dean. He thinks. He asks questions. He gives space to think.

The problem is, we generally don’t get a chance to really talk unless we meet up at EduCon or ISTE. As I processed the conversation after we’d hung up last night, it occurred to me that I don’t do enough of this. As often as I read something and say, “I wish I could talk to her about what she wrote,” I don’t actually do that. I’m talking more than comments or posting replies here.

I’m about as connected as I can stand, and those last few inches of picking up the Skype and saying, “Let’s synchronize the conversation and see what happens” still seem too far to travel.

As strong as the weak ties can be, as networked as the world gets and as global as our passports turn out, we’ll always have to work to have the next conversation.

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