Will Richardson has got concerns

This is the second time in a short while that I’ve responded to a pessimistic post by Will Richardson. Certainly his thoughts are not foreign to me and most of our network.

…the numbers of examples of students on the K-12 level whose learning is being transformed by these technologies is amazingly small, at least to me. I mean really, where are the examples of students blogging…and I mean blogging, not just using blogs…and building global networks of learners? There are some, yes, but not enough to make the case that these tools can work in the current school environment.

The key is that the tools themselves do not create the shift of control. The tools are easy to use but do not necessarily mean pedagogy has changed. We too often introduce the tools without spending the time explaining why. Explaining why takes way more effect than showing someone how.

…lately it feels like there is too much static in the signal, that it’s more about navel gazing and top 100 lists and word counts than how we make this work for kids and schools.

Guilty. However the beauty of blogging is the fine balance between personal and professional ideas. I enjoy getting to know those in my PLE. But I certainly get tired of those who continually talk about themselves in a narcissistic manner. I can’t even define when the line is crossed but I have a gut feeling and their blog begins to lose credibility.

I’ve been working to cut my RSS subscriptions from 125 or so to about 40, and I can see going even leaner. I’ve come to depend on a few trusted filters as well as a smattering of practitioner bloggers who I think keep me grounded in experience. But I’m feeling the need to get some “fresh” voices in my diet, and I’m growing more and more interested in the larger cultural conversations regarding Web 2.0 tools. Much of what’s happening out there is relevant in here.

Will, you’ve talked about this before. I’ve also argued against this. Managing massive amounts of information is a critical skill. Not that it requires having hundreds of feeds but as the power of RSS becomes more prevalent, and I think it will as it converges more with email, we’ll have to figure this out.
I believe our focus should be to:

  1. Continue to promote those new and powerful stories of learning.
  2. Identify and challenge old stories that are disguised as innovative.
  3. Model the powers of Personal Learning Networks.

I also am optimistic that the exponential nature of the web 2.0 will ultimately persuade schools and education to embrace them rather than restrict them. Maybe not this year but soon. The impact of youtube and wikipedia for example into mainstream society is making it easier for us to discuss these ideas as cultural shifts rather than passing fads.

Again Will, good conversations and thanks for the card.

[tags]change, education, optimism [/tags]

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  • I have to disagree with Will on many fronts as well. To me, blogs are an excellent way to get students publishing DIGITAL products to a wider audience. Dioramas (often the product of many student projects) are nice, but more and more I think students need to be producing digital artifacts, and blogs make this possible.

    I teach fifth grade in one of the highest performing districts in my state (the high school is one of the best in the nation) and I still work very hard to get my students to learn the basics. To think that they’re going to be reading news from across the web (through RSS feeds), remixing it, and then publishing it to the world is wishful thinking. These kids have enough homework as it is, and on top of that they are taking music lessons, playing sports, and spending time with friends and family.

    Furthermore, I have tried to create a community of learners (Scribe Posts) with my blogging community, but the kids just don’t seem interested. If John has a choice between commenting on Suzie’s blog or playing his PS2, he’ll choose the latter.

    I have so much more to say, but very little time.

    Jamie Tubbs
    misterteacher.blogspot.com

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