I’ve been thinking more about the whole barriers to entry thing these
last couple of days, mostly because I’m hitting some bumps in my own
practice. Nothing as dire as what James experienced, I don’t think, but
unsettling nonetheless. And what I’m realizing is that much of what
K-12 educators are rubbing up against in trying to figure out the
read/write Web has very little with figuring out the technology. It’s
figuring out the disruption. Not much of an “A Ha!” moment, I know, but
sometimes it’s only when I write (blog) about these dull impressions
that they find some focus.
I’m all with Anne when she writes (blogs):
before that blogging is the best inservice that I’ve ever had. It is
learning focused on my needs and interests. With a few clicks on the
keyboard I have a
world of viewpoints at my fingertips. I’m meeting colleagues, whom
without blogs, I might otherwise have never met.
Learning is making connections. It’s getting ideas, it’s an up close
and personal view of a colleague’s thinking and it is a sharing spirit
with other bloggers who see the potential. All of this gets me to
“raise the bar” in my own thinking. At first, it does seem like an
add-on and it does take time to explore the different avenues to see
the incredible possibilities.But the payoff is enormous! This type of
learning gives me ownership,
a voice, and a stake in the whole process. I’m writing, learning,
and engaging in dialogue in a way I had never done before. All this
with a simple piece of technology that costs little or nothing, allows
me to publish instantly, receive comments and continue the
I could just as easily have written that. Good stuff. But…I’m not sure I’m with her when she says:
Then here’s the real
kicker. We can put weblogs in our students’ hands and get
them writing, posting, thinking, creating, and responding on
subjects they care about. The students voice can be heard, we can
listen to those voices, and be a part of fostering needed change in
education. The time for blogging is now!
easy for Anne and I to learn from blogging because we’re into the
independent learning phase of our lives. (That does not mean “old,” by
the way.) And, luckily, we’ve learned to love learning. Our kids,
unfortunately, are still dependent learners for the most part. They’re
dependent on an educational system that force feeds them a prescribed
curriculum in order that they can pass a high stakes assessment that
certifies them as being “educated.” They’re dependent on us to decide
what is important for them to learn and what isn’t. Our system enables
them, in the worst sense of the word, to become passive learners for
the most part, because passive assessments are what determine both our
students’ and our schools’ fates.
In this environment, any disruption is magnified. We want tried and
true methods that will get results. We want success that is measurable
and data driven. We want “high-achieving” students, even if the
measures of “high-achieving” have been dumbed down by the pressure of
parents and the government to “get into a good college” or, you guessed it, pass the test.
Disruptive ideas or methods inherently accentuate the potential for
failure. Disruptions are untried; they are risky. (Again, none of this
is particularly earth-shattering stuff…)
But the key aspect of the read/write Web that makes it so powerful for
people like Anne and me is that the learning we experience is nurtured
by the transparency of what we do. Read carefully what she
world of viewpoints. Meeting colleagues. Making connections. Sharing
with other bloggers. Ownership. Voice. A stake in the process. All of
that happens only because we do it out in the open. And we do it out in
the open because for the first time, we can.
That’s the power of the read/write Web. And it’s the scary part. It’s
not just disruptive; it’s disruptive for everyone to see. I know that
the concern about safety and privacy are legitimate. But we have those
concerns regardless of whether a student is on the Internet or not.
What really scares people, I think, is that all of a sudden, the bar of
accountability goes way up when we start putting student work on the
Web. When I show my daughter’s Weblog at a presentation, I’ve had more
than a few people actually ask me “But what about all the
misspellings?” She’s seven, for crissakes! But that’s the mentality.
What about the mistakes? What if it’s controversial (meaning, what if a
kid has an original thought?) What if …? What if…? What if…?
And it’s not just blogs. It’s movies or podcasts or pieces of art…Now
that we can easily publish to the Internet and do some really
contructivist things with it, a lot of people are asking themselves,
“Um, do we really want to be doing that?” It’s disruptive that we’re asking our kids to be active instead of passive. What a concept!
Oy. So this has turned into a rant. Well, I haven’t had a good one here in a while. I’m frustrated. I needed it.
Anne’s right…all of this can foster a needed change in education. But, man, the pace is slow.