Fluid Learning, A must read

Add this article to your delicious feed, then email it to every leader and teacher you know and you will have accomplished a lot today.

Will tipped me off to this article by Mark Pesce and it captures so much of what is critical and important in understanding what education must do to remain relevant.  You need to read it but I’ll give you a few snippets of what resonated with me.

He discusses RateMyProfessors.com and sums it up this way,

If we are smart enough, we can learn a lesson here and now that we will eventually learn – rather more expensively – if we wait. The lesson is simple: control is over. This is not about control anymore. This is about finding a way to survive and thrive in chaos.

Taking a page right out of Disrupting Class,

The administration has gone, the instructor’s role has evolved, now what happens to the classroom itself? In the context of a larger school facility, it may or may not be relevant. A classroom is clearly relevant if someone is learning engine repair, but perhaps not if learning calculus. The classroom in this fungible future of student administrators and evolved lecturers is any place where learning happens.

He ends with four recommendations. The first is Capture Everything.

I am constantly amazed that we simply do not record almost everything that occurs in public forums as a matter of course. This talk is being recorded for a later podcast – and so it should be. Not because my words are particularly worthy of preservation, but rather because this should now be standard operating procedure for education at all levels, for all subject areas. It simply makes no sense to waste my words – literally, pouring them away – when with very little infrastructure an audio recording can be made, and, with just a bit more infrastructure, a video recording can be made.

The second was has a special place in my heart, Share Everything. (He really meant share(ski) anything, but I’ll let it go)

The center of this argument is simple, though subtle: the more something is shared, the more valuable it becomes. You extend your brand with every resource you share. You extend the knowledge of your institution throughout the Internet. Whatever you have – if it’s good enough – will bring people to your front door, first virtually, then physically.

Recommendation #3 is Open Everything.

Services like Twitter get filtered out because they could potentially be disruptive, cutting students off from the amazing learning potential of social messaging. Facebook and MySpace are seen as time-wasters, rather than tools for organizing busy schedules……All of this has got to stop. The classroom does not exist in isolation, nor can it continue to exist in opposition to the Internet. Filtering, while providing a stopgap, only leaves students painfully aware of how disconnected the classroom is from the real world. Filtering makes the classroom less flexible and less responsive. Filtering is lazy.

Finally, Only Connect.

…for all its drawbacks, connection enriches us enormously. It allows us to multiply our reach, and learn from the best. The challenge of connectivity is nowhere near as daunting as the capabilities it delivers. Yet we know already that everyone will be looking to maintain control and stability, even as everything everywhere becomes progressively reshaped by all this connectivity. We need to let go, we need to trust ourselves enough to recognize that what we have now, though it worked for a while, is no longer fit for the times.

Read the whole thing and then share it.

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  • Obviously, I agree with your post. The question I have is,”Why don’t more educators open their classrooms up?” I know that I often have some anxiety when I create a video (or even a blog post) that my stuff doesn’t measure up. Do you think that much of the problem is simply that teachers don’t think they are good enough?

    wmchamberlains last blog post..Thank You Mr. Webb and Tamaki Today!

  • Dean, great share! Thanks!

    In response to Chamberlain’s question, “Yes, I do think teachers know their stuff doesn’t measure up.” And, that’s all the more reason to share it…sharing involves a commitment to improve what we share.

    Best wishes,

    Miguel Guhlins last blog post..Moodle and RSS Feed Consolidation

  • I haven’t had time to read the entire article (I plan to) and while I agree with many of the concepts some of the presumptions made are not what I would consider valid. Someone else (in a response) pointed out that the highest rated prof had only 197 ratings which is MUCH higher than most profs. This is NOT what I would call empirical science when it comes to stats. I also think that the political will is quit a ways off at this point in time… education is still primarily funded by public dollars which are “delegated” (some would say somewhat less than equitably… that’s another conversation LOL) by the current politicians/political party in power. The accountability piece (which has become huge lately!!!) would also need to be ironed out. Great concept and these are where revolutionary (vs. evolutionary) changes happen. Thanks to Dean for involving me… a techie, nerd-boy (i.e. I’m NOT an educator… but I do think I “get it”). I may have more to post once I’ve read the entire article.

  • Scary.

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  • Dean,

    I took your advice and shared this with my staff and some colleagues. I coupled it with an article called “Transformation 101” that ran in the Washington Monthly recently. I’ll confess, Christensen’s book is sitting on my nightstand, unread, but I get it. Something still sits oddly with all of what we talk about in this ‘sphere: we’ve heard a lot of this type of talk before–how is this different?

    I am playing devil’s advocate here; when I speak with teachers, I get the distinct impression that one of the reasons they are skeptical of change and change agents is that so much of it has been thrust at them without the proper time for it to be effective. Just as teachers delve into one idea, the pendulum swings in another direction.

    This is bigger; that I know. Pesce’s article points to fundamental changes in how people organize themselves around ideas and teachers of their choice, and that runs so contrary to what we do now. That type of change is, as we’ve come to call it, disruptive. I am curious to see what we can do to show those disaffected by constant, failed change that this is different.

    Patricks last blog post..Daily Diigo Links 12/12/2008

  • @Bill, to answer your question, I think it’s partly as you suggest but partly culture. We see sharing as a peripheral. Nice, but not necessary
    @Barry, again, I don’t think anyone would consider RateMyProf as empirical data but the point is, kids don’t care, they’ll take the advice of others in making choice. That’s the premise behind Amazon reviews. However, it’s interesting to me when i’ve read comments about teachers/profs I know and I think in general, they are pretty accurate.


    Always good to have a devil’s advocate. Not sure this is different but framed very nicely, in particular his 4 recommendations. I think the idea that teachers needing time is important, however, the RateMyProf example demonstrates its happening whether we’re ready for it or not.

    the lesson is simple: control is over. This is not about control anymore. This is about finding a way to survive and thrive in chaos.

    The sooner we accept this, the sooner we can effectively move forward.

  • Embracing Disruption

    […]While there may not be a significant difference in how we learn online as opposed to face-to-face there is a difference in how we learn with different types of assessments and teaching strategies. From a funding standpoint we really have two different models: seat time vs. project-based. One involves a talking head and the other authentic assessments and both can be employed in either an online setting or face-to-face[…]

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  • Job

    Much of what is written can’t be applied universally. I work with teenagers in a youth group and If I brought up twitter I don’t think many of them would know what I was talking about. I think in my cases filtering needs to be done until something is excepted universally. People act like Twitter is big. Twitter is barely a blip on the screen.

  • Thank you so much Dean!! I am looking forward to sitting down with a cuppa and reading a hard copy of “The Human Network” when I have a few moments. hmmm then my Social Marketing Instincts might kick in again!!! Keep up the great work. btw K12 Online 2008 was fantastic this year – thanks for all your work on the conference!

    gail desautelss last blog post..We are all bean counters aren’t we …. in the 21st Century

  • btw – there are only 3 Canadian Universities listed for Rate My Professor …. is there a Canadian version of this website? Hey, I thought you were a Professor…I hope you are on that list!!!!

    gail desautelss last blog post..We are all bean counters aren’t we …. in the 21st Century

  • Miguel wrote:
    In response to Chamberlain’s question, “Yes, I do think teachers know their stuff doesn’t measure up.” And, that’s all the more reason to share it…sharing involves a commitment to improve what we share.

    What a brilliant comment, Miguel. There’s no doubt that the greatest benefit that I’ve gotten from sharing—either in electronic forums or in my weekly PLC meetings—is the ‘pressure’ of outside review. When I know that my work is going to be looked at and judged—formally or informally—by others, I put far more time into polishing it. Sometimes that means improving my practice. Other times that means finding ways to articulate the reasons for my decisions.

    But Share Everything doesn’t cost me. In fact, it improves everything about what I do as a professional.

    Cool stuff, indeed.

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