Blogging. Web 2.0. Social Software. Digital Natives bogged down in outdated classrooms with an outmoded paradigm. Teachers, schools, and curriculums playing catch up: maybe. The future is now, and how do you catch up if your head is in the sand, or just plain turned in another direction?
How? I think that’s the million dollar question here. The change is now. It’s happening and will continue to happen. The whole conversation around group and personal blogging that has been going on has really gotten me thinking a great deal about our team of teachers, blogging, and just plain helping them into a 2.0 mindset.
The more I’ve thought about it, read about it around the blogsphere, and the more I’ve read the comments to my last post, the more I’ve begun to realize that no matter how digitized our world becomes, no matter how fast knowledge explodes, no matter how much we need to be in touch with, and involved in 2.0 - or however this all evolves next, in the end it’s all about people.
People. Individuals. Personalities. That means, in many cases, that change and adaptation is a time thing. That means, from my end, an ongoing, and personal open invitation to “come and see.”
I’ve realized that I’ve been coming at this all wrong. The teachers and students you and I work with are not “clickable.”
I think at some levels I was wrongly expecting our staff to immediatly take blogging and run with it. To instantly understand that blogs are not just journals, but conversations, where you can read and listen in on what other teachers are saying, think about it, research it, and produce your own twist on your own blog. I wrongly expected that after one or two tentative presentations around blogging, that our teachers would see blogs as an absolute haven for “free-range learning“(Ganley, par. eight) where their professional exploration and learning would take off as they begin connecting to a broader and expanding world of other reflective teachers.
It’s a case of me “seeing it” but not effectively passing on what I see.
I’m not ready to throw in the towel around our team blog, especially after this realization around the tool vs. people. It’s so easy to get sucked into the tool and all it helps you do, to the point where you forget how to effectively relate all that to another living, breathing person.
My mac “learns” new things and can do new things whenever I download and install a new program or file. I just drag and drop the new program into the application folder on my hard drive, run the installation, and presto….my comp just got smarter and more useful. This is perhaps an obvious idea, a “duh” post perhaps, but people are not mac hard drives. You don’t just “drag drop” and presto.
Digital Immigrants, the vast majority of the people I am working with, learn things “slowly, step-by-step, one thing at a time, individually, and above all, seriously.” (Marc Prensky: Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Par. 12)
I think that’s a little of what I’ve, perhaps we’ve, been bumping up against here. We’re going to fast. I’ve been going to fast.
My bloglines account daily buzzes with new and exciting ideas that grab my mind and leave me breathless as I try to wrap my head around them. It’s happening fast, but people (read digital immigrants) in many cases, adapt slow. My job is to realize that and stop smacking my head up against it in frustration. Instead I need to slow down. Come along side. Get personal, and above all, use the right language when I try to show, tell and invite.
A year old post over at Alan Levine’s cogdogblog nails this all home.
“Just building an online community, and announcing it will not make it happen. Sure, in a class, you make it required for students, but that carrot is not present.
It takes time, whole lot more than you would ever think is reasonable. Same for patience, and perseverance.
Our faculty co-chairs however are mystified, and wondering why their own colleagues could not spend say 5 minutes to read and post a comment to a discussion board. This underscored my belief that even in this electronic age, we need to go out there and talk to people face to face, or sit down with them at their computers, and spend a lot more time in real conversations to get them “in”. Our initiatives are all brand new, still forming, and people do not yet have a clear picture or set of expectations.
It takes much more than technology to build online communities.”(Levine)
Isn’t that the truth? We’re in a digital age, but real conversations and face to face time is still, and will always be, a part of our reality. Ignore this at your peril. I have, and will do my best to grind to a flintstone stop.