Look for People, Not Just Resources

After spending a few weeks looking at the visitor vs resident notions it became clear today why it’s such a big deal.  During a unconference today in Halifax a group of teachers were discussing and exploring Project Based Learning. Specifically one of the participants had been looking at the Buck Institute’s resources and for implementing PBL. I told them as a kind of “fun fact” that I knew the latest consultant and that she happened to be from Canada. While that fact was mildly interesting I realized what would be more significant would be a more formal introduction. I messaged Shelley who happened to be online and she agreed to an impromptu session with this group. Within minutes she was sharing with them her own story and some advice for beginners. While the day was filled with lots of resource and idea sharing, the most impactful moment was sharing and  finding new people.

I’ve been saying for a long time that the old adage, “If you leave a conference with one or two ideas you can use in your classroom right away you’ve done well” is not nearly as good as “if you leave here with one or two people you can continue to learn with you’ve done well.”

The reality is for most teachers the notion of connecting and sharing in this immediate, personal way is still very foreign. For me to tweet someone to join a hangout is no different that it was asking the teacher next door to me for supplies. In fact, this is easier. And yet teachers are nonetheless surprised by the ease at which this can happen.

I’m reminded of a quote by Clay Shirky,

We systematically overestimate the value of access to information and underestimate the value of access to each other.

Part of this struggle continues as people see the web in visitor mode, a place to find and get stuff. Those of us who see the web in a more resident mode,  continue to take advantage of the affordances of connections and create both strong and weak ties that make life easier and better.