Why are we doing this? Part II

I recently posted about faculty members questioning the validity of teaching technology. So, I created a new page on my wiki to help explain why teaching technology is so important, but of course that’s not enough… As I click through the hundreds of feeds in my RSS reader, I am quite relieved to see that I’m not alone in this uphill battle of embracing change. Today I found the No Teacher LEft Behind Wiki created by Graham Wegner. He writes:

“The changing information landscape of the 21st Century demands that our students develop new skills of information literacy and become knowledge producers as an integral component of their learning. But what of the professionals charged with these students’ education? Can they be convinced of the need for personal change to keep pace with their students’ world? Are they even aware of the exponential changes taking place? How would they get started in their classrooms?”

This is exactly the question that I am wrestling with – as Graham visualizes in this post, we are at the “tipping point for education” and I’m not quite sure how to pull/cajole/invite/motivate my colleagues over to my side of see-saw. I need to figure out how to bring the essence of The Power of One
video (which I found on Marion Ginopolis’ guest blog post) into my school. Thankfully, Graham is presenting at the K12 Online conference soon and I am anxiously awaiting his thoughts and ideas on the topic.

I was also inspired to see this quote:

“Ed. tech???…Frankly, I’m tired of the excuses. “We don’t have time for that.” “We can’t afford that.” “That’s not what we do.” Nonsense! How can you/we NOT afford to bring the institution of schooling in line with our 21st century society? And, in this asynchronous world our children live in, what is time anyway?”

on Dangerously Irreverent from guest blogger Jon Becker.

This is one thing I have quickly come to love about blogging – the possibility for so much learning, so quickly, and from so many different points of view. And the ability to take in only what you need, what you can handle, when you have time to process the information. For example, Jeff writes about learning communities in his blog, The Thinking Stick, today, which inspired me to have a closer look at the more formal learning communities that are popping up around the edublogosphere (and by “more formal” I mean actual groups of people intentionally and specifically working together, rather than just the individual learning communities we are all forming just by virtue of reading and commenting on each other’s blogs). I found these:

Learning Circuits

Blogs for Learning

Infinite Thinking from Educational Technology and Life

As Mark van ‘t Hooft at Ubiquitous Thoughts writes, the “issues of teaching, learning and technology are similar all over the world.” It’s amazing to think that no matter how far away I am from like-minded educators in the physical world, we are all just a click away here in the virtual world. This is such an inspiring feeling for me, I am realizing more and more that I have to share this experience with my students. It’s not fair for me to be the only one with a “Personal Learning Network” in the classroom, I need to allow and assist my students in creating their own PLN as well, like Clarence Fisher has so successfully done with his students. Now that I’ve gotten my sixth graders blogging successfully, I really need to introduce RSS and get them started creating their own learning community. I realize now that if they stay at the level they are now, they are just one step above “doing the same writing, just placing it on the web” as Will Richardson points out from David Parry’s report.

Its very easy to introduce something new and exciting and stay superficial. I think the key to these new web 2.0 technologies is to dig deep and find the real core value of the tool, rather than just using technology for technology’s sake. I need to open the doors in the walled garden for my kids. I am inspired by stories like this. And this comment “With this article, it seems as if the conversation, and my learning process, have been frozen in time” referring to written work on actual paper, rather than work in electronic format, on Karyn Romeis’ blog really rings true for me. I can only image how much more true it is for our digital native students. I realize I’m still holding onto a little fear of opening up those floodgates, but it has to happen. How can I shut my students out from a world that is so rewarding for me every single day?

5 thoughts on “Why are we doing this? Part II

  1. Now I’m really worried – worried that expectations for my K12 contribution are going to be way higher than I can deliver! Really I am no more expert than anyone else, but in my role, I have tried to spread the Web 2.0 word amongst educators as best I can and I have experienced the barriers I intend to cover in my presentation. I have tried some things, some has worked to some degree and others have flopped … but opening the dialogue amongst other like minded educators is the place to start. We can share our solutions and commiserate our shortcomings and gradually convince more and more educators that their classroom practices need to evolve to meet the needs of the 21st century student. I hear what you’re saying, Kim, you might just find that more dialogue with other edubloggers can help your (and my) dilemmas.
    Hope you enjoy my final product and that it is useful but don’t be too harsh if all I do is raise more issues to be solved!

  2. Nothing to worry about! I’m honestly just excited and interested to hear what you have to say – starting the dialogue is the key for me and I’m just so happy to find like-minded educators, even if we are all in different time-zones 🙂

  3. Yesterday by email Jeff Utecht (Thinking Stick) and I were comparing the excuses we’ve heard teachers make for not including ICT tools in the toolkit Scary. One of the ones I shared with him was: “What if you can’t be bothered with all this online stuff? What if you’ve got enough to cope with right here in the real world?” At the time, all I could think of to say was, “To the kids you’re teaching, online IS the real world.” Of course, I later thought of all sorts of other things I might have said.

    On another note, I was reading Graham’s comment above and it struck a chord with me. We each seem to see ourselves as minnows among whales. My perspective is that I’m just li’l ol’ me conversing with the great and the good of the blogosphere. Graham obviously feels the same. I wonder of any of those that I think of as being the great and the good think of themselves as li’l ol’ me. It seems this medium has engendered a strong sense of mutual respect, while still being a great leveller. I himbly appreciate the opportunities to engage with the likes of Tony Karrer, David Warlick, Mark Oehlert, Harold Jarche, Vicki Davis and, now that I’ve thought about it, I can just picture them reading this comment and going: “Who, me? But I’m just…”

    On the blogoshpere no-one seems to be “just” anything. I thin I’m going to have to go away and post on this, now!

  4. I think you summed it up perfectly, Karyn: “To the kids you’re teaching, online IS the real world.” For some reason, many teachers still haven’t caught on to that fact…

    It is empowering to be swimming in the same sea with all those whales you refer to. I love the level playing field of the blogosphere – especially since I’m quite obviously just a little minnow myself!

  5. Thanks for the mention of Learning Circuits Blog and our The Big Question feature. When Tony Karrer approached me at the end of September with the idea of a distributed conversation feature, I was happy to jump on the idea. I’d been thinking we needed to break away from the traditional blog format for some time, but Tony’s idea crystalized the idea.

    While we both thought the idea was a good one, we’ve both been blown away with the results. Using the concepts of the community-of-practice world, we’ve been able to activate our lurkers and linkers into active participants. The traffic to Learning Circuits Blog has surged as has the feed activity – both reads and click thru – which would indicate new linkers.

    While I don’t know that we’ll see blog primary authorship continue to grow for much longer at the rate it has been for the past 2-3 years, I’m confident that we’ll see the blogosphere expand as more people become comfortable with commenting, bookmarking and rss aggregation.

    As to your original concern regarding our learning/teaching colleagues who don’t get it, I’ll paraphrase a line from Clark Aldrich’s post on Learning Circuits Blog on piloting of training courses: “If you’re not keeping up with blogs, rss, and the other new technologies, you’ll not only not succeed. You won’t have a job.”

    We can only blaze the trail. We can’t make people follow it.

    Dave Lee
    Blogmeister
    Learning Circuits Blog

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