I haven’t written too much here about a friend and a colleague who has without question become my main offline teacher in terms of thinking about the Web and how it can influence teaching and learning. He is one of the brightest people I know. We’ve had all kinds of lengthy conversations over the past year ranging in topics from Dewey to school reform to (guess what?) blogging. Of course, I keep urging him to start a blog, and I think he may be ready to give it try. He reads blogs, has a Bloglines account, and I think understands the potential.
So what’s the problem?
My friend regularly pushes back about blogging, saying that it’s not as easy both technically and psychologically for most as it is for others, that the tool requires a significant change from how most people work and think. He says that it’s easy for me because I’m a writer by training, a journalist specifically, and that the transparency of content is familiar. For most, however, it’s not so appealing.
So it was on a couple of levels that I thought of him when I read a post from Leigh Blackall which pointed to this post from Doug Noon which pointed to this post from Miguel Ghulin. On one level, I thought about the time and effort it takes to follow and try to connect the ideas in these extremely interesting and thoughtful posts. All these guys are pretty brilliant and pushing my meager brain in any number of ways. It’s work, for me at least, and requires a pretty high level of engagement that I wonder how many educators have the time or inclination for. (And I do not mean that to sound holier than them in any way.) Second, the theme of this very distributed conversation goes to the heart of what my friend has been saying, that blogging and read/write webbing may be for a select few and not for the masses. Doug’s post ends with
I made a presentation about blogs to a group of teachers last summer. After I talked for probably too long, a woman raised her hand and asked, ï¿½Why would anyone want to do this?ï¿½ I didnï¿½t know what else to say. You either see it, or you donï¿½t.
Which of us who has tried to bring these tools to a wider audience hasn’t heard or sensed that?
So my brain goes to this…in my echo chamber, I read lots of stories about kids who are getting it, even in Doug’s post, where they are reading and writing and commenting and learning. You read Bud or Clarence or Vicki or any number of others and there are stories that border on transformation. (In fact, Vicki’s latest post is titled “My students inspire me as they “get” Web 2.0.”) But I don’t read much about the kids that aren’t engaged. And I’m wondering to what extent that happens as well. And further, I’m wondering to what extent they compare to the adult educators we’re trying to teach about these tools who choose not to engage. The simple view is that this is generational, that kids are more available to the tools because they live in a connected world or because, well, they’re kids and more open to new stuff than adults…but is it?