Random Thoughts

A Lesson in Connections

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(Cross posted at Techlearning.com)

I’ve learned a valuable lesson this week. One that shows the importance of teaching our students that the connections the web creates and the content you put on the web becomes a part of you.

Last year, I was reading a lot about digital stories in the blogosphere. I saw some good examples of how they could be used in education and decided that I should try this whole digital story thing out for myself. At about the same time, YouTube was becoming more popular and I was intrigued by the power of this new social site. So I downloaded a free trial of Camtasia and set out to create my first digital story.

I was still trying to wrap my head around Web 2.0 at the time and decided that a digital story on Web 2.0 would be a good start. So I went to Wikipedia, printed off the Web 2.0 article, did some editing to make it flow a little better, and used it for my script. I then went to the web and found pictures that matched what I was talking about and made, I thought at the time, a decent first attempt at a digital story. I created myself a YouTube account and shared it with the world.

The video had received very little attention, only being viewed just over 1000 times in the last 14 months. That is until Michael Wesch of Kansas State University decided to post this video as a video response to my Web 2.0 video. I received an e-mail when he posted it and went to have a look. Like many others, I found the video to be very well done. I linked to it on The Thinking Stick to share with others and then didn’t give it another thought…until the next morning when I checked my e-mail to find 20 new people had subscribed to my Web 2.0 video.

In the past week and a half, I’ve seen my first attempt of a digital story go from being a little unknown corner of YouTube to having over 48,000 views. Now my poor little attempt at creating a digital story is getting knocked around with comments. Michael’s video has surpassed 1 million views, but because his video is connected to my video, I’m getting visitors as well.

We often forget about the power of connections on the web and how one good connection can propel you or your video into a whole new world. My Web 2.0 video, from what I have been told, is connected to Wikipedia (I can’t access Wikipedia in China due to the filter so I have no way to confirm this for myself).

An interesting component of this whole ‘power of connections’ has been the comments left on my video. Nobody besides the readers of this blog know the story behind my video, yet the comments are as if I should have been a real movie producer. Some are downright mean, others just nonsense, and a few are thought provoking. What ever happened to “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?”

This whole experience has me thinking about our students and the content they produce on the web. Everything from the videos my students have on YouTube to their personal Myspace accounts. It’s a great lesson that content can lay dormant for a long time, and it only takes one connection to bring it to life. I think about our high schoolers today who are putting things on the web that today seem harmless, but tomorrow could cost them their job, or impact a family member or friend’s career. There is a lesson here that connections are constantly being formed; everything and anything you put on the web can be connected too. Our students, no matter what their grade, are creating their digital profiles, a profile that is clickable, connectable, and tells a story of who they are. Now, I wish I would have read over my script a few more times before actually posting the video, cleaned up the images, and made it a little less boring (as most of the comments state) but at the time I wasn’t thinking it was going to be viewed by 48,000 people. I was practicing; learning a new skill, and trying something new…and now the world has a hold of it.

[tags]Web 2.0, connections[/tags]

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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Great to read this post – it is interesting to hear you say that you were just practising and didn’t expect many people to watch your video. I think many people start blogging like that and move on to podcasting or like you, posting Youtube videos , just to see what it takes and what it looks like.
    It’s great that you took the step – I

  2. cont..I watched the video and din’t find it boring or poorly produced. In fact it has moved me further forward to wanting to research this medium and share your ideas with other colleagues in education
    keep on pushing
    Mike T

  3. Man, those comments are harsh. But it does bring up a question about students posting video and the potential responses of people who post comments just to be hateful.

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  5. This comment “meanness” is a very real issue in a much larger sense. Stemming probably from a great media push of sarcasm and back-stabbing and poor treatment of others (see almost every reality show) and continuing to the certain degree of anonymity or at least lack of face-to-face contact of online commenting, we now find that all people (not just young) tend to be more willing to say deragatory things to others. See any Rate my…site or a Hot or Not site…these types of sites are celebrating the “slam” comment. And this carries over to environments like blogs and YouTube.

    So like a conversation I’m having on Chris Lehmann’s site about teaching wisdom to kids, this is another opportunity to have a great conversation with students…about the implications of what they write on themselves and on others. Character education hasn’t changed, it’s just got more meaningful as young people today interact with a larger and larger world-wide audience.

  6. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences here, and I took away more of the impression about the power of making links, than the concern over “mean” remarks. I’ve seen more than a few on things I’ve put on YouTube (and the folks on digg can be even harsher). It serves a lesson to not take them all at face value or that people write this because they feel safety of anonymity. Yet it is disturbing that there are people with such rage to unfurl in un-warranted places. Perhaps the notion is not writing/posting/blogging to seek favorable comments or an audience at all (??).

    Cheers and happy new year.

  7. Just catching up on my RSS aggregator – sorry to come to this post so late. But if it helps any, I feel your pain! In fact, I’m working on (in my head) a post similar to this regarding my Did You Know presentation. The comments on many of the sites (Did You Know is not just on YouTube, but a variety of other “interesting” sites like i-am-bored.com) are a bit overwhelming and disheartening at times, although there are some good ones in there that are helping my thinking. But, similar to yours, they have no idea of the original context of the presentation – I think there’s a lot we can learn from this and pass on to our students.

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