If I Can Do This, Anybody Can

Twitter version: Today I met Alan November for the first time, told him about OpenPD, and I ended up presenting with him at UASCD.

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I’m telling you: if I can do this anybody can.

Seriously, folks. I’m just Darren, a nice guy from Utah. Yes, that Utah. I happen to love education and technology and sharing it with others. Sure, I’ve had a few breaks here and there but with a little persistence the breaks will come to anyone.

Today I attended my third UASCD conference in Provo, Utah. We sat at our usual back-corner table – you know, the one right next to the power outlet. Alan November was presenting, doing a fantastic job, and giving the teachers here what I like to call the “Web 2.0 First Discussion.” You know: collaboration, networking, throw in some Skype and bit of Google Docs. Not long into his presentation he Skypes in Dennis Richards, the newly retired (congrats) Superintendent from Massachusetts.

I leaned over to my boss, “Hey, Dennis was one of the participants in our OpenPD.”

During the first break, I decided to go up and meet Alan because I’ve known him by reputation for years and have greatly admired his work.

In our brief discussion, we talked a little about Dennis and how I had come to know him. I quickly explained about OpenPD and how we had conducted this professional development using technology to connect teachers from all around the world.

“We used social software to teach social software,” I told him.

“And your teachers learned about far more than just wikis and blogs, didn’t they!” responded Alan.

He then finished our brief discussion with “Listen. Why don’t we do lunch here today, you can tell me a little more about what you’re doing, and then after lunch you can tell everybody here your story.”


After a nice lunch and an even better conversation, I had learned a lot about Alan and he had learned a lot about me. One of his comments will stick with me forever.

“Darren, you probably don’t know this, but it took me over 10 years – writing books, giving presentations, consulting – to get to where you are now. And it really only took you one day [referring to the day that I posted Pay Attention].”


After lunch, he invited me to share my story with the rest of the group (roughly 600 people). I gave them all my “OpenPD First Discussion” and returned to my seat – clear in the back – noticing a room full of heads nodding “Yes!” and smiles from educators who just 15 minutes earlier didn’t know me from Adam.

I’m telling you: if I can do this anybody can. So quit making excuses and change the world.

Image Source: PJ Giles

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