#Nerdlution showcases virtual collaboration

A MiddleWeb Blog

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I’m involved in a lot of collaborative projects. In the past six months alone, I have participated in the DS106 Headless Course to learn more about digital storytelling across platforms. I played the Twitter-based weekend-long game called Twitter vs. Zombies that took place entirely in tweets. I contributed words, stories, media and edits to the MakerText novel that was written over one single weekend by hundreds of people for Digital Writing Month. And now, I am involved in the Nerdlution. Or rather, the #Nerdlution (hashtag added).

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The Nerdlution is an amalgam of “resolution” and “nerd” as put forth by fourth grade teacher Colby Sharpe. This year-end collaborative movement began as a playful idea from a few folks connected to the Nerdy Book Club (of which I am a proud sweatshirt-wearing member) to find a way to resolve to do something positive – in the online company of others  – for 50 days. Educators and others quickly joined in, as if we were waiting for this exact thing to happen.

Maybe we were.

Nerdlution-Icon-400My own resolution? I am writing 50 comments on 50 blogs over 50 days.  Each morning, I wake up and read blogs as part of my morning routine, adding at least one comment every day to a new blog that I have never commented on before.

Other teachers have committed to walking or running, or doing pushups. Still others are reading books they’ve always meant to read or writing blog posts they’ve always meant to write. Some are documenting a single good deed accomplished each day. It’s all good.

And there, on Twitter, with the #nerdlution hashtag, we are sharing our progress and finding ways to connect and support each other. When we talk about the revolution of social media in our professional and personal lives, this is what we mean.

The empowerment that comes from connecting

Being part of a larger network or community is empowering in ways that are difficult to put into words. Connections make you feel anchored to a movement. Sharing is an act of compassion. Seeking help is a show of strength.

On the surface, the #nerdlution appears like any other resolution, and yet … it’s not. There’s an energy in the support system that comes naturally when educators bond, and a spark in the willingness of people you don’t even know — not yet, anyway — to reach out just when you need an extra boost.

haiku-exampleAnd interesting things happen.

The other weekend, I saw that one teacher in the #nerdlution community had posted a haiku about her resolution. I responded with my own haiku, and then it occurred to me to ask others in the #nerdlution to write their own haikus. Soon, the Twitter stream was flooded with three-line poems marked by wit, humor and insights. (See a curated collection of poems on Storify).

The next day, I posted a six word memoir about the #nerdlution, and again, I suggested that others might want to consider the same. Over the course of the day, I collected about 50 six-word memoirs and pulled them together into a single presentation. The writing was wonderful and the act of sharing drew many more of us together in a new way that moved the #nerdlution into a whole new chapter.

We need to model collaborative life

I’ve often written about the isolation teachers can feel in the profession, about how the four walls can both contain a world of learners rich with ideas and also remove us from others with gifts of time and experience to give. If we are to be model how the digital world is opening up opportunities for our students, as it surely is, we too must be willing to dive into collaborative communities.

Twitter is one. Facebook is another. So are Pinterest, Instagram and whatever other site or app dominates the headlines in 2014. It only requires a step forward.

In developing a sort of Frequently Asked Questions post about the #nerdlution, educator/writer Chris Lehman did a beautiful thing. He explained the guidelines are that whatever you do, it must “make you happy.” He repeated this phrase again and again so that it has become a sort of mantra for the community. It has to make you happy. And it has.

link: http://youtu.be/gUQNBfH4Lvc

Feel free to join us! Make yourself happy too. #nerdlution

Kevin Hodgson

Kevin Hodgson is a sixth grade teacher at William E. Norris Elementary in Southampton MA and technology liaison for the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. A former newspaper journalist and aspiring writer himself, Kevin believes in the idea that all students are writers and that writing is one of the most fundamental means of understanding the world. His views around literacy include interaction within the digital world, meeting students on common ground and helping them make the shift from passive consumers to active creators and collaborators. He is a co-editor of Teaching the New Writing: Technology, Change and Assessment in the 21st Century and blogs regularly at Kevin’s Meandering Mind. He can also be found on Twitter as @dogtrax.

4 Responses

  1. Allyson says:

    #nerdlution is the first time I have really understood why people like Twitter.

    • There’s really a lot going on with Twitter and professional development/connections with other teachers. You need to dig around a lot but Twitter has come a long way and is fast becoming the go-to place to share/ask for resources.
      Kevin

  2. Awesome post! I am going to share the #nerdlution with my education friends on edWeb.net – a group of 70,000 educators who are collaborating to improve education for their students. I love that all of this is FREE!

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