My brain feels as tired as it has in a long time, and it’s a combination of the challenging (at least for me) discussions that I’ve been having both on and off blog this week. I’m still humbled by the fact that over 40 people responded to my vent last week. In some ways it’s inspiring and overwhelming at the same time. To me, it captured very clearly the complexities of this moment we seem to be at. The ground is shifting, but it feels like we’re stuck.
Last night, I spent a most enjoyable 90 minutes or so with Nancy White and Dave Cormier here at the NYSAIS conference at Mohonk. Over the course of the last year or so, Dave has become someone who always challenges me to think about this work from outside my comfort zone. And Nancy, whose work I’ve just come to recently, is another that sees things from a perspective that challenges my own frame. It’s no surprise that the conversation last night at dinner was extremely thought-provoking and left me in some ways dazed.
We talked about the limits of “blogvangelism,” a term I’m growing less and less fond of. (Hey, I’m evolving.) And we also discussed the problems with the “natives/immigrants” discussion and how it tends to simplify what is a much more nuanced and complex relationship that kids and adults have to technology. And we talked about the myriad of issues that schools face in moving toward real change.
Nancy’s thinking of late has been focused on what she calls “Second Wave Adoption” and what the best way to support that is. The early adopters have all jumped in, but now we’re looking back at the vast middle group and wondering how best to bring them along. She’s written much about this on her blog, and I’m hoping either she or Dave decides to articulate our discussion more clearly than I’m able to right now. But the upshot for me was that this is the most important question that has no one, simple answer. And I think it’s much of what has led to my frustration of late. We live in a world and a society where we just want easy answers to very complex questions. And there are those easy answers here, too. We just know in our hearts they aren’t the best answers.
So, what do we do now?
Perhaps, as we talked about last night, we need to focus less on spray and pray and more on small group, extended practice. And that done in the context of systems, not individuals. I’ve said this before, I know, but at the end of the day, this is a discussion about culture both outside and inside the system more than a discussion about technology. And while there are an amazing group of technology professionals here this week, there needs to be curriculum directors and principals and kids and support staff and media specialists all working and talking about systemic change, not individual change. Not sure…
And I wonder, if at the end of the day, Stephen Downes isn’t right when he writes:
But again: it is not so relevant whether instructors use these tools nor whether or not they are used in the classroom; what matters is that students are using them, in or out of the classroom.
Right now, all of this is too much for my brain to keep up with. And so I feel a little break coming on. I need to get home, play with my kids, turn off the connection, and reconnect with my offline life for a bit. I’m sure the conversation will still be here when I get back.