Frog in a Well Cannot Conceive of the Ocean

Reflections on Utecht, Jeff 2010, Reach, USA, pgs. 1-40.

Topic for Reflection:  Building a Personal Learning Network (PLN) for the purposes of Professional Development.  (Say that 10 x in a row!)

written by our esteemed instructor

First of all, I read the Introduction even though it wasn’t on the requirement list.  I always like to find out about the story behind the story and introductions can be good for that.  Jeff, I want to say that I thought it was very brave of you to share with the world that you have a learning disability.  I was very surprised to learn that you had difficulties with reading and writing in school.  It sure doesn’t show.

Wow!  Think of the impact you are making expressively through the skills of reading and writing alone, through the Coetail Course.  Bravo for you!  I have a child that also finds it challenging to read and write.  It encourages me to know it may not necessarily be a limitation for him because it certainly isn’t for you!

Now, onto my reflections on chapter one and two of the book:

The cover of your book is a startling image to me.  The first impression I get is of someone shut in a prision reaching for freedom.  A grim picture.  After a few moments of reflection, I think I understand what you are saying.  You are encouraging us to reach out of the darkness and the smallness of our world into the light and the openness of the outside world.  Put in literal terms, you’re telling us to get connected through the internet to the bigger world out there and to like-minded people so we can share ideas, best practices, and learn from each other (OK, do I get an “A” for that, Teach?!)

I’ve never thought of using RSS and Twitter for professional development before.  Twitter, to me, was receiving a stream of inconsequential details from someone with a big ego that thinks the rest of the world wants to know that he “just had a coffee”, “just finished watching a movie”, “going to bed now…”   In turn, I figured no one would want to know about my inconsequential goings-on either so I never used my account.  I have had a RSS set-up before but I could not keep up with the readings.  Again, I never thought to use it in professional development.

Of course, because of the requirements of this course, I will have a “go” at these forms again and maybe some other forms I’ve never tried.  I think the difference will be if I connect my RSS and my Twitter to people I “know” (such as to cohorts from Coetail).  Then, I have a personal connection that encourages me to keep on reading, when I’d rather delete my RSS stream.  I’m more likely to follow Twitter if they twitter about things of substance (not what they ate for lunch but what they just did with their students during a science lesson!).

I don’t feel that I am particularly in the “darkness” or in the Dark Ages but who knows?  Maybe there is a world out there so enlightening that I will realize that I have been stuck in a dark corner of my own world.

There is a Chinese proverb that goes like this:

 Frog in the well cannot conceive of the ocean.


See any resemblance to Jeff’s book cover?


A frog sits in the well and he looks around him.  He says to himself, “This is my world!  This is the entire world.  What I see is all there is to the world!”  In fact, he’s sitting in a dark, narrow well.  The light is right above him but he refuses to look at it.  Maybe he’s in denial about his circumstances.  This proverb is to caution people against believing that everything they’ve experienced is all there is to life.  By doing so, we cheat ourselves of potentially enriching experiences.  We have to have the mind-set that there is more out there and have that adventurous spirit that makes us crave to experience and learn something different. We should never think we’ve “arrived” in life.   I have a feeling that the Coetail journey is going to bring us to new places of thinking and connecting to people.  It will be a stretch for me at times.  Someone “friended” me through my Coetail blog and I freaked.  I’ve never been “friended” before online with someone I don’t know.  I did a search and discovered she was one of the Coetail cohorts (wheew).  My first thought was, “Who is this?  Is this a stalker?”  LOL.  Anyway, I’m already out of my comfort zone.


I love the colour of this frog!


What sounds do Frogs make in your language?


ribbit (English)

guagua (Mandarin Chinese)

gwaa gwaa (Cantonese Chinese)

kero kero kero (Japanese)

cruá cruá (Spanish)

 coa-coa (French)

 gae-gool-gae-gool (Korean)

  ¡berp! (Argentinian)


Image Source:




About Vivian

Vivian @ChezVivian is a Canadian-born Chinese, currently living in Switzerland. She has also lived in Hong Kong and Indonesia. She holds a M.S. (focus: Educational Technology Integration), B.Ed and a B.A. and graduate studies in Kodály and Orff music pedagogy. She is an elementary school classroom generalist, but has also taught as a music specialist, ESL/EAL and also in Learning Support. Most of her teaching career was in International Schools in Hong Kong. She is excited about the IBPYP and the possibilities of using technology to Inquire. Recently, she has been looking at the opportunities that computer programming gives to put #TECHXture back into the hands of children. In other words, technology need not be just about looking at screens. It can be about building things with our hands; and computer programming levels-up what children can do with the things they build---encouraging higher thinking skills. She is a Coetail Post-graduate Certificate grad ('13-'14), a former Coetail Coach and one of the co-founders of #CoetailChat. Her blog home curates her assignments for Coetail and her M.S. graduate studies about Educational Technology integration and anything else educationally-related that she feels inspired to write about. Her twitter tagline sums it up: "Mom to 4, Mentor, Educator, Musician (in that order)".
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7 Responses to Frog in a Well Cannot Conceive of the Ocean

  1. Vivien, I know what you mean about twitter. I joined several years ago, during one of Jeff Utecht’s workshops, actually, at an EARCOS tech weekend in Jakarta. Back then it seemed to me to be, as you say, all about where people were having coffee. After a couple of days I couldn’t be bothered and didn’t persevere.

    Then after another workshop at my school where Chrissy Hellyer was a guest a couple of years back, I got started again and have been amazed since then with all the fantastic professional development available at the click of a key, and particularly, pd that I could tailor for myself by picking and choosing the right people to follow.

    I hope you enjoy using twitter as much as I do!

  2. Vivian says:

    Hi Lindy

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. I feel like I’m one of the few in the world that don’t twitter. It’s nice to know that another person has felt the same way about it. I think I joined when it was a “new” trendy thing and was quite useless to me. I guess in recent years it’s developed into PD development for teachers! Who would have thought? I will give it another go.


  3. Jeff Utecht says:

    We’ll get you out of the well for sure and once you understand how to use these networks for professional learning a new huge ocean awaits.

  4. Heather R says:

    Haha – I love it – the frog in the well. Perhaps COETAIL is the kiss that turns us into Princesses and Princes with horses that can take us off on our travels to connect with other former frogs!

  5. Chrissy H says:

    Here’s your network already working! Your post popped up in my RSS feed (so I reddit! – sorry bad pun) It popped up because one of your commenters mentioned my name. It took me a while to see the true benefit of twitter – I too thought what’s the point of knowing when ever anyone ate, went to the movies or had a coffee?? I signed up anyway – but abandoned it for about a year – then I tried it again. This time I was really conscious of who I followed – and twitter became my personal learning network. People I learn from, learn with and every now and again I can give something back by helping someone else.
    Now my RSS feeds – that’s a different story – RSS is my life-saver, time-saver. It allows me to have the information I’m interested in come to me instead of me going to find it. I love RSS. And since I’m an ex-CoETaIL-er and now a CoETaIL instructor, I’d be really happy to help you in any way I can – so you don’t feel like you’re gonna stay at the bottom of that well! Don’t hesitate to ask!

    • Vivian says:

      Cool Chrissy! I feel like I’ve been a nobody all my life and now people are reading my blogs. Feels a bit weird. Like I’m a fraud or something. They surely can’t be really getting something out of what I am writing, can they? Maybe the frog’s been kissed and turned into a princess? At the same time, I’m enjoying reading other people’s blogs. It makes a difference knowing we are all classmates or at least co-conspirators in this digital revolution thingy 😀 I feel more invested in what I am reading and I want to comment on others’ thoughts so they are encouraged too. Thanks for stopping by!