Cultivating Geekdom

Attribution Some rights reserved by birgerking taken from Flickr

Family Geekiness 

Growing up, I was outside most of the time, especially during the summer.  My brother however was almost always near a computer. He fully embraced his inner geek, and at the time I may not have appreciated it as much as I do now.  Most of his friends and community members were part of an online game.  I forget what it was called, but he spent most of his time in it, and just like the Living in New Media Report mentions he learned from it and made profound friendships on this site.  This scared my parents, and to be honest it scared me a little too.  It’s strange not “knowing” who my brother’s friends were.  My parents could see my friends outside, we would come in and eat, hang out in the kitchen or watch TV if the weather wasn’t brilliant.  My brother’s friends were rarely seen.  
I remember I was in University, my brother was in grade ten or eleven and he had been playing this game for three years or so, when one of his friends wanted to meet.  My parents knew they were older, like in their thirties, which made them really uneasy.  They were both travelling to the same place, coincidentally, and thought it would be incredible to see this person they had spent so much time working with (killing monsters, saving the world, establishing a community, to be honest I don’t really know what they did).  
The agreement was my parents would be there for the meeting and introduce themselves to these people.  While everyone was a little tense at first the meeting went really well (I sadly was in school). My parents’ fear slowly dissipated and their friendship grew even stronger.
Reading this report on geeking out made me wonder about my choices being younger. I loved being outside, playing around, learning more about myself and my friends, but did I miss a chance to dig deep into something and learn a specialized skill? Who knows/ 

Cultivating Geeks 

Attribution Some rights reserved by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML
So now I wonder, how do I cultivate geekiness in my students.  Last year I tried implementing Genius Hour, or google time, or whatever you call it when you let students do what they want and explore their own learning. It was somewhat successful but I lacked the expert community connection that would make this time really powerful.  Their was no in-depth community for the students to reach (mainly because of lack of technology in the classroom). 
As a tech teacher now, and coach, I’m trying to start making those connections (thanks connectivism).  I’ve put some teachers on twitter to connect with NGOs taking action about what students are inquiring into. We’ve started classroom and individual blogs (already one of my students thanks to a facebook post has 500 views on one of his summative assessments Zeke’s blog if you’re keen).  I guess my wonder is, how do we cultivate geekdom? How do we get people into these communities, or is it like Clarissa says “It’s something I can do in my spare time, be creative and write and not have to be graded,” because, “you know how in school you’re creative, but you’re doing it for a grade so it doesn’t really count?”

As a “connected” teacher, I realize my role has to change. That means perceptions of my role have to change as well. Do I need to get rid of grading to make learning authentic in my classes? I wonder what the next steps are to help students reach their potential in a meaningful way for them.

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