Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

How Much Should Teachers Share Online?

This morning as I browsed recent updates and recommendations to my YouTube subscriptions on AppleTV, I saw Amy Burvall (@amyburvall) recently liked the February 2015 video “Vlog 1: Importance of Sharing” by pre-service teacher, Dakota Smith. He posted this over a year ago in February 2015. I watched the entire video, and was so glad to see Dakota was influenced by and cited two excellent videos by Amy as well as Dean Shareski (@shareski). He linked to both of these in the description of his YouTube video as well: Dean’s pre-conference keynote for the 2010 K-12 Online Conference: “Sharing – The Moral Imperative” and Amy’s “ISTE2014 Ignite: #daretoshare.” These are both FANTASTIC videos and well worth your time to not only watch, but also share with other educators you know or teach, including pre-service teachers! In this post I’ll share a few of my own thoughts in response to Dakota’s video, as well as thoughts, links and resources related to generous digital sharing by educators. These topics are on my mind as the November 4-5, 2016 “Digital Sharing Conference” (@digishare) in Oklahoma City draws nearer.

Sharing is foundational to learning as well as teaching, as Dean articulates in his video and Dakota acknowledges. In her video, Amy cites Austin Kleon (@austinkleon), author of “Show Your Work,” who says:

“Your work doesn’t exist unless it is online.”

While all teachers are familiar with the huge importance of face-to-face sharing for lesson ideas and teaching tips, and many in digitally connected contexts are growing aware of the value of sites like Pinterest and TeachersPayTeachers, far too few are comfortable sharing and publishing digitally. Few know about Open Educational Resources (OER) and related initiatives to openly license and freely distribute learning curriculum. Few know about Creative Commons licensing and its huge importance for education and learning. For those teachers who do begin to digitally share, most start with “inside digital sharing” within their classroom. A much smaller percentage of teachers venture out into the wide (and sometimes scary) world of “outside digital sharing.” We need to encourage and support other teachers on this digital sharing journey. These are ethics behind the project Shelly Fryer (@sfryer) and I are working on this spring, “Inside and Outside Sharing,” and the “Digital Sharing Conference” (@digishare) which we’re organizing locally next fall. In 2016 we’re still just at the dawn of the digital sharing revolution in education and our society more generally. It’s vital we:

  1. Recognize and understand the ethic of open digital sharing (inside and outside)
  2. “Keep moving forward” in our own personal journeys of digital sharing
  3. Find ways to encourage other educators in our respective “spheres of influence” to create personal and professional channels for digital sharing, and play in the sandbox of sharing our ideas, insights, resources and lessons learned with others.

Spectacular Oklahoma sunrise by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Spectacular Oklahoma sunrise” (CC BY 2.0) by  Wesley Fryer 

In response to some of the specific things Dakota said in his vlog about teacher sharing, it’s important to remember and respect the issues of student privacy as well as intellectual property. Before digitally sharing photos or videos of students or student work, make sure both students and their parent(s) have agreed to open digital sharing and signed a media release form. Examples of school media forms are available on the OklaEd Learning Showcase website. Keep a list of those students who do NOT have permission to share their photo or work openly on the web. At my wife’s school, these students are unofficially called “the redshirts.” Photos of those students aren’t shared openly. Sometimes they find creative workarounds when students still want to participate in group photos, like the student wearing the Darth Vader mask in this recent “Force Friday” photo in my wife’s classroom. Other times those students privately share their photos and work “inside” the walled garden of their classroom’s private learning space, SeeSaw.

Star Wars Friday by shellyfryer, on Flickr
Star Wars Friday” (CC BY 2.0) by  shellyfryer 

As educational leaders, we should aspire to make generous digital sharing of our lessons and our student work (with requisite media release forms always signed, as previously noted) an important part of our school culture. Generous digital sharing, both inside and outside the classroom, should be come a “norm” of learning for us as well as our students. I’m thankful and energized by Dakota Smith’s per-service teacher vlog about digital sharing, and especially by the way powerful and on-target messages about digital sharing by educators like Dean Shareski and Amy Burvall can and ARE impacting his thinking. This makes me wonder if K-12 Online Conference organizers should do more to curate playlists of past presenter videos specifically for pre-service teacher/faculty/instructor use?

I encourage you to create a digital space where you can “invest” your time and energy in sharing lessons and resources. My STEM curriculum website ( is one place I have and continue to do this. My wife’s classroom website ( is another example. Our STEMseeds (@STEMseeds) PD Camp website ( and the curriculum site for iPad Media Camp ( are other examples. All of these are built for free with Google Sites. Misty Williams’ AP Biology website in Yukon Public Schools in Oklahoma is another example. That’s linked in my conference breakout session resource page, “Sharing Lesson Plans & Curriculum with Google Tools.” Jim Askew, of Crescent PS, Oklahoma, built an incredible High School Chemistry curriculum site “old school style” via a HTML editor which is amazing. There are many more. In response to Dakota’s vlog question about “What should teacher share online,” I offer these links as “best-practice examples” to study and share.

Digital sharing has been and continues to be immensely transformative for me as a learner and teacher. Alan Levine‘s (@cogdog) “True Stories of Open Sharing” project is filled with video evidence of this for many educators. I challenge you to embrace the ethic of open digital sharing, personally and within your own sphere of influence. I feel like I’m on a volunteer team with other educators like Dean, Amy, Alan, and MANY others spurring forward the digital learning revolution in our communities and on our planet through the power of generous, outside digital sharing. We’re only getting started! We have lots of important work to do together in the weeks, months and years ahead!

Dean Shareski, Tammy Parks and Wesley Fr by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Dean Shareski, Tammy Parks and Wesley Fr” (CC BY 2.0) by  Wesley Fryer 


5 responses to “How Much Should Teachers Share Online?”

  1. Alan Levine Avatar

    This is very exciting to see you and Shelly working together on promoting my favorite topic. In some ways, as I expect you both know, it seems odd to have to keep emphasizing what ought to be a core and natural value of teachers. You’ve been tireless and persistent in this issue for a long time; the teachers in OKC are lucky to have you there,

  2. Wesley Fryer Avatar

    Thanks Alan 🙂

  3. Scotthoisi Avatar

    Awesome information! I like the fact that you focus on being proper stewards in the process of using technology. Hopefully we can create more compassionate, understanding and flexible users of technology and how they express themselves.

  4. Scotthoisi Avatar

    Awesome information! I like the fact that you focus on being a proper steward in the process of using technology. Hopefully we can create more compassionate, understanding and flexible users of technology in expressing their ideas.

  5. Scotthoisi Avatar

    I tied to comment on your page but it will not accept my comments? Not sure why