I’m going through some old notes I scrawled on pieces of scratch paper (and even a few napkins from time to time) from podcasts I’ve listened to this fall. Some of the ideas below are from David Warlick’s K-12 Online pre-conference keynote, along with Clarence Fisher’s excellent K-12 Online presentation, “Globally Literate.” There may be some other sources here, but those are the main ones I can decipher from my notes.

David encourages us to keep perspective on educational technologies with the following clever phrase:

Don’t be excited by the light of technology. Instead, be excited by what we can shine light ON with and because of technology.

I think more teachers in our schools need to be specifically teaching students how to write effectively with hyperlinks, because hyperlinked writing is the most powerful form of writing that has ever existed. The ability to connect your ideas with words, thoughts, images, sounds or videos created by others is unbelievably powerful. This is the real power of blogging, in my opinion. I always try to link ideas in my blog posts to other sources or to related posts I’ve written or others have authored, because my goal in writing goes far beyond merely transmitting my own words and ideas: I want to connect others to ideas and in doing so, empower their own personal learning journeys. Since digital technologies have advanced so quickly and come so far in our own lifetimes, we are naturally more awed by the technology than we should be or than later generations will be. David’s exhortation is excellent, challenging us to avoid the temptation to be entranced by technological bells and whistles, and instead focus on CONTENT, IDEAS, and OPENING DOORS.

Clarence Fisher challenges us to remember the information literacy challenges of the 21st century are LESS about SEARCH and MORE about FIND. How do you find good information, those golden “nuggets” amidst a sea of confusing and distracting noise? I think it was Clarence who mentioned the sites spotback.com and popurls.com as recommended sites for locating current news of interest. Clarence’s exhortation to learners of all ages to “get past the idea of access to issues of CONTENT and FINDING CONTENT” is needed today more than ever in many schools. It seems learners are drowning in a sea of content, and that sea is only going to get busier and more distracting in the months and years ahead. We all need to continually seek enhanced search strategies, but remember the goal is not the SEARCHING but in the FINDING.

I think this tidbit is also from Clarence: Reading online is VERY different from reading a novel or most other print-based materials. Online reading involves much more skimming for ideas and content. Again my question about writing and reading instruction (literacy instruction) in schools returns: Are we teaching students (and our teachers) how to more effectively read online content? If we understand the differences (or at least some of the differences) between reading analog versus digital texts, and we recognize the importance of the digital environment, there is NO QUESTION we should be helping learners of all ages more effectively read online texts.

Clarence’s technique of asking listeners to consider their cognitive “toolbox” is a great metaphor to use with learners of any age, especially when it comes to technology tools, I think.

a toolbox

I also resonate with his contention that being an effective information consumer today means being CRITICAL of information, and asking informed QUESTIONS lies at the heart of this process.


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  • http://tuttlesvc.org Tom Hoffman

    I thought the Word of God was the most powerful form of writing that ever existed.

  • http://wfryer.wpengine.com Wesley Fryer

    I definitely agree that God’s Word is the most powerful writing ever written, but in terms of a writing “form” I think that hyperlinked writing is more powerful than analog writing. My point here is focusing on the modality of the writing rather than the content. The ability to connect to the ideas of others is the key differentiator for hyperlinked writing. I have been wanting to flesh out these ideas more in an article, but have not made the time yet, so I included some of them in this post. I am not making a claim about which writing (content-wise) is the most powerful. (If I was to do that in the context of the Bible, I’d likely post it over on Eyes Right, which I might do over the holidays.) My point is that as a writing form, hyperlinked writing is more powerful than something I can write down on paper, type, or even word process on a computer since it includes the ability to link to other ideas. Access to text and ideas is a key element of the “power” I am referencing here. I acknowledge that not everyone has access to the Internet, and even those with access don’t always have that access when they can or want to read texts there. Despite issues of access, hyperlinked texts are more powerful. In a Christian context, The Bible Gateway is a powerful site because it gives people instant access to so many versions of the Scriptures.

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