It’s the admissions part that’s sticky, but I have some. Over the past month or so, something really shifty has been going on in my own practice, changes that on some level are somewhat disconcerting.
First, my aggregator is dead! Long live the aggregator! This is the toughest shift to deal with: I have pretty much stopped reading my feeds. Here are the reasons I can articulate:
- Way too much travel of late…Australia, China, Canada, and my next two months are going to be brutal. I think my
- Brain is just fatigued, plain and simple. Which may be one reason I’m currently really
- Bored by the conversation. I’m still feeling like most of what little I am reading and writing is just a rehash of stuff we’ve been talking about for years now. It’s stale, which might be why I’ve been drawn to
- UStream. It’s fresh in one sense that in the process of learning it it feels like I’m actually getting somewhere. The gains are tangible. But the gains take me time (read: small left brain), time that I would normally spend reading deeply but instead now read
- Thinly, as in Twitter. I blame Twitter for a lot of this, actually. It’s a lot simpler, isn’t it? The lazy man’s blog tool. And while it’s great to have the network at my fingertips, it’s also a distraction in many ways.
Second, blogging is work these days. (Have you noticed?) It’s feeling more like shoveling the manure at Tess’s pony club…it’s got to be done, but there isn’t much joy in it. And I’ve got Tom Hoffman on my shoulder whenever I start typing, which isn’t a bad thing in that it raises the bar in my own brain but it also makes this more work than fun at times. (Not your fault, Tom. You’re just doing your job.) See many of the other reasons listed for my lack of feed reading as relevant here too.
Third, Skype (actually IM and chat in general) has become the major communication tool in my day right now, and I’m feeling almost constantly connected to a small portion of the network. It’s not unusual for me to have three or four chats going at the same time. Talk about a distraction. (This part, at least, was put in some perspective yesterday when Steve Dembo, in response to the latest Twitter outage, created a Skypechat room for all of his friends to continue the updates, all while in an important business meeting. Oy.)
Finally, the whole model for personal pd feels like it’s shifting. Yesterday was the birth of EPDN, the “EdBlogger Professional Development Network” (coming soon to a cable channel near you). For three hours last night, people were grazing from one live event to the next between the “K12 Online Fireside Chat” at 7 EST to my “Playing with UStream” episode on Weblogg-ed TV at 8 EST to “Women of the Web” interviewing David Jakes and Ewan McIntosh at EdTechTalk at 9 EST. There was a weird new feel that I got from all of that, one that on some levels was pretty cool but on another just felt like total overload (especially if you tried to follow any of the chat conversations…)
So anyway. That’s the state of my world. Just for the record. Today. At this moment.
Now if the Cubs had won the World Series…
Graham Hughes says
I was at a conference in NSW last week and leigh Blackall said exactly the same thing. He’s not reading his feeds anymore, says there is rarely anything new and is looking for fresh fields. I fely slightly let down, and now doubly so. See, you guys go around the world exhalting us to get with it, get our blogs going, set up RSS, let the world come to us etc. etc., then you up and leave. Probably you are just jaded from the travel, and will get your second wind. I hope so because I enjoyed your workshop at Lorne and am trying to do as you said, as are a few friends of mine who were there too. See, you have a responsibility. Oh dear! Mind you, you’ll probably never read this anyway.
Chris Craft says
So what you’re really doing is proclaiming the death of the slow, right?
Isn’t that what’s so darn satisfying about twitter/skype/ustream is that it’s instant?
I feel odd sometimes about tweeting about a news item that I’ve seen in my aggregator because it’s already old news!
Maybe it’s that the former style of asynchronous conversation is dying and giving rise to a much more synchronous world?
Is it time for on-demand, just-in-time learning? Is that what we’re creating?
Clarence Fisher says
Chris Lehmann said on Twitter last week that blogging is getting harder as the “new network” emerges because we need things much more substantive to say now that we are so connected. Are we moving more in the direction of our students who rarely are on their email (except when they need it for school) because it is too slow? They use IM instead. I also have to admit, my aggregator gets overloaded a lot of weeks now when it goes several days without being checked because I am busy connecting with Twitter, IM, Ustream, etc. The pace of information changes again.
Barbara Egan says
Sometimes we forget the importance for time for reflection and integration. . . it is an essential part of learning. How will we help children remember this?
John Krueger says
I agree with Barbara. Hear hear for reflection and integration. Just sit back and take a break, Will. Your blog is an awesome resource… not so much because you are always on top of the latest technology but more because of your reflective insights that are concrete and real. I for one can’t imagine doing the Twitter thing as a routine practice over time. (I’m going to try it out just with a group of students as an experiment.)
And as for everything becoming synchronous, I don’t agree. I think the fact that technology allows us to have have asynchronous conversations more effectively and more frequently (like wikis and voicethread and others) is what is really exciting.
I turn the cell phone to off frequently and enjoy those moments.
Karl Fisch says
“Iâ€™m feeling almost constantly connected to a small portion of the network.”
So, is your network therefore getting smaller and smaller with (exclusive use of) tools like Twitter and Skype, which allow for constant connectivity, but only to a small number of folks? (I’m honestly asking the question, not implying anything.)
Laura Deisley says
I think Barbara’s comment is spot-on. I sat back at one point last night as I watched the back channel chat unfolding, the whiteboard filling up with questions, and the “hands” raised during David Warlick’s Elluminate session and I just thought “too much.”
Time to reflect on it. Time for some balance (shoveling —- at the pony club is nature Will). You know, one of the things I really ponder is this: I am so darn connected “virtually” that I am more engaged in those conversations about things that particularly “juice” me than I am with those sitting around the dinner table. What happens when all this connection starts eroding away at other connections–and particularly the ones which are so ordinary (stale in comparison) yet so vital to our lives and well-being?
One of our key roles as educators is modeling at what level the connection is healthy, and at what point it isn’t.
Reflect, shovel, spend some time with the “familiar”. Let’s not get so consumed that we’re bored easily by that which isn’t moving quickly.
Karen Janowski says
I’ve been pondering these things also. Are we, as the “early adopters,” by definition, risk takers? And aren’t risk takers, by definition, more likely to push the limits and are therefore never satiated, always looking for the next great thing, kind of like an addict?
It is time to reflect, time to critically analyze. These are skills that can’t happen in warp speed.
Will Richardson says
@Graham…thanks for the feedback. I’m not abandoning any of it, just trying to figure out what’s changing. Some of the tools that were so important before just don’t seem as important. That doesn’t mean they aren’t however.
@Chris…”death of the slow”…hmmm. Not quite sure if that captures it, but there’s something there to gnaw on…slowly.
@Clarence…so is that a good thing?
@Karl…I think what it is is that a small portion of my network is morphing into something more intense, more always on. There are a core of about a dozen people who I am in conversation with almost every day, then a secondary network of about 25 who I feel strongly connected to but a bit less so. After that, there is a large group that I would still count as a part of my “network” but only on the periphery. Does that make sense
In general, I don’t disagree at all with the need for reflection. I’m just wondering if all of these very immediate tools make it easier not to reflect…
I also found the Fireside chat to be too “stimulating”.
I finally gave up on listening to DW (figured there would be a transcript at some point) to try and follow the chat. The conversations skipped about and were a mix of shallow and profound. Such exchanges could never replace my Reader feeds, which I consider, go back to, respond to; or my personal blogs, which are a pleasure to write and find appropriate pictures for.
Reflection is necessary for many of us. Information should be differentiated for teachers/adults as well as for children!
Cathy Nelson says
Will–my heart almost skipped a beat today when i read the post! But I can understand too, as I’ve let Twitter become the priority read in the evenings now that I can’t read at school. I hope I am in the “periphery” at least since you called me by name the other night in the Ustream w/ your nephew in law. I was only in the chat as cnelson. But maybe that’s cuz my twitter id is cathyjo. Oh well, can hope at least. But anyway, I find that if I have to forgo something, lately it is the feed reader. But i do still love it. And I am finding that I am just as connected and up on topics with twitter too, which allows me to opt for no feeds at times. I think that speaks volumes for the network of people in my Twitter. Thanks for allowing me to be in your network.
Dean Shareski says
I recall a quote of Marshall McLuhan written almost 40 years ago that I’ve been mulling over the past few weeks.
INFORMATION OVERLOAD EQUALS PATTERN RECOGNITION
To me, I see you battling this as we all are. For those new to everything, they are moving towards overload, you’re already there.
But the thing is as I add a new means of connection with twitter or ustream, that’s what I’m trying to do. It’s not so much of looking for new ideas but to solidify, filter and deeply understand the ideas. It’s rare I hear anyone, including yourself talk about something I’ve never heard before but the complexity of learning and living in a digital world calls for us to construct our beliefs everyday.
The past few days I’ve been involved in working with teachers in understanding Project Based Learning. I heard a few times, “this is nothing new”, “I’ve been doing this for years”, “we’ve been talking about this since the 60’s”. All true. So why are we doing this? To me it’s about deeply embedded the ideas of relevant, purposeful learning into all of our learning; not just a unit a year. But it’s still hard, it requires reflection and exploration, a luxury most teachers don’t give themselves.
So while I hear you, I’m not abandoning old tools (gee how many people think RSS is an old tool) because it still is the place where most of my deep learning occurs. Twitter adds salt and flavour. But the real conversations occur in places like this and although tools like ustream have potential, they currently do remind me 3 days later that someone else has joined the conversation and added to my learning.
Instant connections are good and have their place but this is deeper.
I’m rambling a bit maybe there’s something here that makes sense.
Greg E says
Will, there is an ingredient missing from your constant conversations about connected learning: using the tools with kids in a real classroom. That is what keeps it fresh and exciting for me. The PD I do with teachers is ho-hum compared to the a-ha moments when students unlock an idea using technology. Isn’t that what all this is about?
Janice Stearns says
I like Dean’s reference to Twitter as adding salt and flavor. As I’ve been doing my day job and teaching an online course at night on Web 2.0, I found Twitter to be too districting. I had to turn it off. It was too intense, and I wasn’t getting my “work” done. Twitter feels like play, and all the other things I do feel like work. Even my aggregator is feeling like work, but that’s because I simply don’t have enough time to do all I want. I missed so much. I’ve decided to turn it back on, even if most of the time, I feel like I’m lurking. Now I need to catch up with uStream and all the other cool tools I’ve been missing out on.
Gary Christenson says
Will, you raise some interesting concerns that come from our living in a culture of speed, of having lives defined by immediacy. But instead of assuming there’s something wrong with feeling burdened by an avalanche of information and communication, take it as a sign to ease up. I recommend for your leisure reading a book by Carl Honore titled “In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed.” Then I would prescribe (because I’ve done this) buying a really nice leather-bound journal (Yes! Paper!) that no one else will ever read, save for your descendents, who may find it in a shoebox on a shelf someday. Hold it. Write in it. Take pleasure in knowing that there are still thoughts that don’t require immediate dissemination. (Best of all, no one replies.) This is the way I reboot my soul when I find the pressures of technology to be too much. And I speak as one who has used the Internet and its by-products, since their dawn, in the college classroom. You can have it both ways. In fact, I think we must.
Dave Sherman says
The group of people in your circle are SO FAR AHEAD of the rest of the world of educators, that I can see how you are ready to move on to new, bigger, better, faster things. But, the majority of teachers in this country still have no clue about blogging or Wikis as powerful vehicles for teaching. You and Alan November were my two influences in the world of Web 2.0. I still feel the need to continue to spread the message about the “old” tools that you have been writing and talking about for the last few years. I hope you will keep pushing the envelope, but some of us still need to hang around and model the use of blogs, Wikis, etc. There is still a lot of work to do with teachers. Don’t forget about us as you press ahead with new and exciting technologies and applications.
Kimberly Moritz says
Just makes me think I better move on over to Twitter before I miss something–why worry about the old tool when a new one comes along that makes the work easier?
Stephen Downes says
Now that you know that blogging is work…. 😉
My view is that you need less of this: “For three hours last night, people were grazing from one live event to the next between the â€œK12 Online Fireside Chatâ€ at 7 EST to my â€œPlaying with UStreamâ€ episode on Weblogg-ed TV at 8 EST to â€œWomen of the Webâ€ interviewing David Jakes and Ewan McIntosh at EdTechTalk at 9 EST. ”
… and more of reading (or watching, or whatever) the stuff that none of them are reading or watching.
There is always a danger of being lulled into being in a self-reinforcing community. If you aren’t adding to, progressing, and challenging your thinking, you’re becoming more of a cheerleader, and less of a leader, every day.
That’s not to say anything against the people listed. But they’re just one network, just one channel, in a million-channel universe. Get out there and bring something of value back to that community, something nobody has seen, something wonderful…
Dean Shareski says
Interesting and excellent perspective. I think that like other professions, there’s a tendency to dismiss the work of those outside the profession as being applicable. As the lines of education and learning blur, this is becoming more possible….my new goal…add some more non-educators to my list.
Andrew Ward says
Posting from the audience.
Shawn Cram says
At least you are not a Yankees fan ! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas with us in Maine this morning.
Pamela Livingston says
Thank you Will because I have been feeling exactly the same about Twitter, information, and that infamous night of K12 and multiple TV streams and chats that was so compelling – in fact have been experiencing writer’s block and my list to unblock included “turn off Twitter and write!” Temporarily at least.
Bridget Belardi says
I understand your pain, Will…It’s similar to the complaints I hear from teachers who are just starting to blog/read blogs-“Who has the time?”
However, you also have a network that you don’t even know about. Teachers who haven’t met you in towns you’ve never heard of follow your blogs and quote you in staff meetings. Teachers still pass your book around with the pages dog-eared and highlighted.
I hope you still take a little bit joy in knowing that there are hundreds (probably thousands) who follow every word in your blog. With programs like Skype and Ustream, the network numbers shrink considerably and it limits access to the learning discussions.
All of this is hard work-for those just starting and those who are the pathfinders. The question for me is, “How do we get these two ends to meet?”
Sounds like you’re too human. You will emerge ready to write more, but need sometime to soak up or collect more to process.
Lisa Parisi says
Sorry I came into this conversation so late but I, too, have little time to get to read my blogs. However, I am concerned about your world narrowing. Those of us not in your “small portion of your network”, those of us who learn from you simply by being on the periphery, will lose the valuable learning opportunities you provide. Please keep your doors open. Thanks.