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Humbleness and thanks

I don’t know how my writing comes across to others. When I was a teenager, I had a few general issues with the world (I know, likely the first teenager in history with this affliction) and very specific issues with authority. This attitude produced a number of difficult situations for me. At one point, as I was engaged in paying the consequences of a particular act in the form of a solid tongue lashing from a judge, I remember this odd feeling of “I’m not like that…I’m a pretty good person”. But, in reality, people can’t evaluate us by our thoughts. Our actions, words, and artifacts determine how others interpret us.

With most of my writing on this blog and with open online courses, I’m not trying to tell others what I know. Generally, I’m trying to make my process of coming to know as transparent as possible. When we learn transparently, we teach others.

This preamble is a lead up to something that I’m hoping doesn’t come across the wrong way (i.e. self-promotional and such). I was in Madrid yesterday where I received a very generous award: the Fundación Telefónica/OEI Award for an individual who demonstrated “educational innovation through the use of ICT, thus substantially contributing to improving the quality of education” at the 6th annual International EducaRed conference. A huge, very humble, thank you to the conference organizers, the foundation, and to my hosts. I had hoped to spend more time in Madrid, but unfortunately, my daughter is ill and I had to cut the trip short.

While my time was short (20 hours from landing to take off), I did have an opportunity to meet numerous educators from Spain, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, and Columbia. A few years ago, I was chatting with Stephen Downes about the high level of interest from educators in Latin American countries in connectivism, social networked learning, and ICT use in education. I’m not sure why this is the case. Nonetheless, I had a great time meeting teachers and leaders, the fine folks at EducaRED, and representatives from Fundación Telefónica. Thanks. I’m honoured. And humbled.

12 Comments

  1. peps mccrea wrote:

    Thoroughly deserved. Get yourself a shelf – I suspect this won’t be the last!

    Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink
  2. S.G. wrote:

    For what it’s worth, I think your writing comes across as some of the thoughtful that we have in the field.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go wrap my head around picturing you in front of a judge…

    Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink
  3. Rosa A. Ojeda Ayala wrote:

    I’m glad they did!!! Congratulations, George!!! You say: “A few years ago, I was chatting with Stephen Downes about the high level of interest from educators in Latin American countries in connectivism, social networked learning, and ICT use in education. I’m not sure why this is the case.” Being from Puerto Rico, I can understand why this interest. We, in Latin American countries, do not have the same opportunities as most Americans, Canadians and Europeans do. You might know of the Digital Divide, but it is a different thing to live it. Last week I listened to the episode dedicated to Change11 MOOC on DTLT Today, and I think it was Andy Rush who said that they could make the platform available to North America or something like that, and you asked if Canada was included…and I thought to myself “How ritht was our poet Mario Benedetti when he stated that we shall not forget that the South also exists.”

    “Pero aquí abajo, abajo
    cerca de las raíces
    es donde la memoria
    ningún recuerdo omite
    y hay quienes se desmueren
    y hay quienes se desviven
    y así entre todos logran
    lo que era un imposible
    que todo el mundo sepa
    que el Sur,
    que el Sur también existe”

    Dedicated teachers and university faculty members all over Latin American countries are always struggling to do our best with little. Let’s get real! Internet connection in my classroom is lousy. I only have an In_Focus projector, a speaker, and an old computer on the desk; somedays it works, somedays it does not. There is no wireless access in the room for students to connect with their computers (the few who have one). I finally decided to get a cel phone with Internet account so my students (and myself) can connect when the line is down. I now bring with me my personal netbook “just in case I need it”. I try to make the most out of a few. Thus the opportunity for us to understand learning and knowledge creation as connected, not only interactive, becomes highly appealing, because it provides for sharing resources and ideas where and when they are absent. I definitely believe we are struggling for a better future for our countries and our people.

    I also understand there might be a cultural factor underneath all this. We, Latin Americans, tend to be more prone to closeness than to being detached. In general, we value the sense of belonging and sharing that conforms the sense of community.These too transpire from “connectivism” and networked learning.

    Oh, one more thing!!! It is really hard to follow discussions and presentations, read massive content, and write, in a foreign language. So we quietly participate in yours, and take advantage, and build our own learning communities, developing sub-networks!!!

    Congratulations again!

    Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink
  4. Congratulations, George – it’s well-deserved!

    Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink
  5. Kate Bowles wrote:

    I’ve learned a tremendous amount from what you write because it’s so clear, and for what it’s worth, what comes across in the way you write is a quality that’s a bit hard to define: “trustability”. We are all learning so fast in this area, and to have even the faintest chance of keeping up, we all need sources we can trust to have been thorough. Thank you so much, and congratulations on the award.

    Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink
  6. Hello .. I was in Madrid, attended the meeting of educators as a representative of Brazilian educators, with my colleague Gil Giardelli. I appreciate your kindness and your attention to the educators who were present at that interview. In time, I hope your daughter is well
    Thanks, Sonia Bertocchi

    Monday, October 24, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink
  7. Tony Reeves wrote:

    Congratulations George! To echo Kate’s comments, one of the only things that is certain in learning technology is the increasing diversity of approaches, tools and applications. As someone who is fairly new to the field it has been essential for me to find people who are able to offer informed opinions and analyses on which I can build my own opinions; I am very happy to say that your blog, videos and the MOOC have been hugely empowering in opening up my mind to the possibilities offered by learning technology.

    I have no doubt that your award is well-deserved, and as we say in the UK: ‘it couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke’. Even if you did end up in front of a judge..!

    I hope your daughter recovers quickly. Many thanks, Tony

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 1:40 am | Permalink
  8. Thanks to you George, for accept this recognition from Fundación Telefónica to your important long -life -work, and to give us the best present you could: speak to the more than 11.000 teachers from all parts of Latinamerica and Spain that where leastening to you! Your contribution to our conference was very important! You where great!
    Congratulations again!!!

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 3:30 am | Permalink
  9. John Connell wrote:

    Well done, George!

    I too have often wondered about the interest in radical and innovative pedagogies in Latin America. I look at the history of great educators such as Paule Freire, Ivan Illich, Everett Reimer and others and wonder what came first: did these thinkers and doers create a landscape of radicalism that others are able to work within, or were they able to do what they did because the conditions were already there to make it possible?

    I guess there’s a dialectic at work that means both are right in some ways.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink
  10. Titus Ransom wrote:

    First I would like to congratulate you own your award and to also keep up the good work. I know it was an awesome experience meeting other educators and finding our their views on education.

    Friday, October 28, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Permalink
  11. Congratulations George on a greatly deserved award and recognition. It has been an honor to be connected to you. You said: “Our actions, words, and artifacts determine how others interpret us.” This reminded me of my youth, where I shared some of your feelings about authority, though I might have some other experiences that “frightened” me. However, those challenges might be also an opportunity for personal growth. Relating to the reasons why Connectivism seems more “popular” in the Latin America, I do think there are relationship between the culture of a “community” or “nation” and the acceptance of a learning theory or paradigm. For instance, the power distance (i.e. hierarchy) of Central and South America: Central America: Mexico, Panama, South America: Colombia, Ecuador is comparatively high to Anglo: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, UK, USA, etc. So, people would naturally prefer to consider an alternative education and learning paradigm which are more “liberating” in power, and Connectivism would fits into those needs. I understand that this is a simplified explanation, as there is too much stereotyping. Even so, it doesn’t mean that every institution is equally accepting a more “liberal” education paradigm in the Anglo clusters, as each culture is different. However, I do think many institutions would still like to run with authority “figures”, and so instructivism is still a way to go with them for decades. I would think Connectivism has a lot to offer, though there are still lots of challenges for it to become the mainstream pedagogy, as I have posted in my blog post.
    John

    Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:27 am | Permalink
  12. Peter Shaw wrote:

    George, it seems to me this is well deserved. Living in South Africa, I have often wondered whether the powers that be shouldn’t invest hugely more in internet based education, given our large distances and remote, rural communities. Satellite communication would seem the solution to the infrastructure problem, but we still have a very long way to go in very basic computer education.

    Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 3:43 am | Permalink