“The best way to understand the dramatic transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.” –Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point (Emphasis mine)
I find myself coming back to this idea of the eduweblog “tipping point” more and more often lately. I think we’re already there when it comes to Web logs in general. Whether the concept turns out to be little more than just another Internet fad remains to be seen…witness the hundreds of thousands of dead sites already out there. But there is no doubt in my mind that in fields like business and journalism and education, it’s becoming a viable tool to enhance the profession and craft. In fact, I think there are a lot of parallels between Web log evolution in journalism and in education. But as usual, we’re a few steps behind.
Since things have been heating up around here, this idea of tipping point has become more and more relevant. In posts and chats and conversations, we’ve been wondering if and when Web logs will become an Ideavirus among educators. My dabblings in Zen have taught me that when there is great energy in acts or thoughts, it’s crucial to take time to just observe. Step back. Breathe. Separate. When I do that, I see and feel the tremors of real change and possibility. It’s very cool, and it’s very energizing.
But this has gone beyond just making this work in my classroom, in our classrooms. Now it’s moved to evangelism, to a greater commitment. We’re all writing, speaking, selling, thinking, convening. And wondering. The early returns aren’t great. As George Siemens says “…it is frustrating to stay in unrealized potentialities too long.” Everyone loves the idea, but relatively few have put it into practice.
In a response to George, Sebastien Paquet notes that
Sociological change is slow… I’m skeptical that such a big change will take place on a large scale in educational settings before significant pressure is exerted from the outside (i.e. blogging students learn more from blogging than from school, come to class knowing more than their professors, stop going to class…)
And I tend to agree that change is slow. But I don’t agree that it will take such drastic measures to bring this mainstream. I think it’s incumbent on teachers and professors to bring the technology to students, not vice versa. (And that list of Educator Web loggers is growing, by the way.) It has to come from inside, from us. And since we’re the ones who realize the potential, we need to hasten the tipping point by making sure we have at the ready resources and support for the converts we bring into the fold. (Can I have an AMEN!?!)
We’re moving toward organizing. We need to keep moving in that direction. Personally, I think we need to focus our tasks. Who wants to start putting together the field manual? Who wants to start contacting teachers on a wider scale? Who wants to start the eBN newsletter? We need to market. We need to sell. We need to educate. We need to do a whole bunch of things that are going to be required of us if we intend to be a serious support group for teachers who want to blog.