Are the leaders in the edublogosphere “zealots,” as Tim Holt suggests? Are people being intentionally “not invited to the buffet” of conversations out here? Tim poses some good, challenging questions in these posts. Here are a few thoughts. I’ll be curious to read what you think.
Ideas are what really matter in the edublogosphere. One of the most beautiful things about conversations here is that they are open to everyone with access to an Internet-connected computer. In face-to-face life, which is still certainly important, your first impression of someone is almost always based on superficial characteristics. You can’t just look at someone and immediately interface with their ideas, in the way you can in the blogosphere. There is an equalizing power to the written word of blogs which I find both affirming and empowering.
Diversity is very important to me. I value diversity of perspectives in conversations and diversity of experiences. Life is diverse, and I think one of the things which makes life most enjoyable is being able to experience rich diversity in multiple forms. While I value and cherish diversity, I am also aware of the importance of not over-emphasizing biological characteristics to the detriment of a needed egalitarian ethic: To treat people on the basis of their ideas and the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin or the creed they profess. A late civil rights leader for whom I have great respect also held that view.
It is not enough to just have ideas, however, in the context of the conversations and potential to influence others that Tim references in his post. People also need to have access to digital tools, specifically an Internet-connected computer. (Where access to sites like blogs are not blocked, I might add.) Tim asks in his post:
Does everyone have at least a fighting chance to get the technology?
Clearly the answer is “not everyone” in many contexts, and this is a reason for advocacy. OLPC is opening the eyes of many to these issues. Advocacy to empower EVERYONE with digital tools as well as guidance to use these tools constructively to further ethical ends is extremely important. Yes, the digital divide is still very real, but there are exciting signs of it narrowing (especially via mobile cellular devices) which offer promise. (Dr. Paul Resta shared some of these at SITE in March 2007.) There is still a lot of need for informed advocacy on the issue of access, however.
Tim’s posts are not just about bloggers and access, however, he’s also referencing leaders on the educational technology speaking circuit, I think. He asks:
So who is leading the charge for educational technology?
I agree with the idea that it would be great to have more leaders like David Warlick on the scene in different colors and flavors. But let’s not ignore the multitude of voices who ARE speaking out in the edublogosphere and elsewhere, and do come from diverse backgrounds. And, let’s not forget to give thanks for voices like David’s, which can fall like a draught of cool spring water on a desert of parched earth in many school districts.
Tim says we don’t have many female voices blogging and leading this charge for educational technology. He writes:
We have to start looking to our education population to develop the leaders that specific populations will respond to. If you think that young Hispanics from low-socioeconomic areas will respond well to middle aged white guys with lots of money, then you are fooling yourself. If you think they will respond to people like Marco, now your getting the drift. Teachers are the same. Lotâ€™s of white MALES talking about how wonderful the connected world is to rooms of females donâ€™t carry as much gravitas as a woman who can share her experiences in the male-dominated world of the web.
Again, I certainly support keeping the conversations open and inviting people from all contexts to the podium. I want to be wary, however, of creating categorized lists of people based on skin color or ethnic background. Someone asked me the other day what my ethnic background is. I am vaguely aware of the roots of some of my Western European ancestors, but frankly that geneology is not very important to me in my current season of life. As a North American, I suppose I fit that stereotype of looking to the present and the future much more than I look to the past. (Although I certainly consider myself a dedicated student of history.)
Ethnic backgrounds are much more tricky to define than a person’s sex. So let’s talk a moment about male versus female voices in the blogosphere. Why do there seem to be more male voices than female voices? I don’t know. That is a worthwhile question to consider. But in considering it, let’s again remember that IDEAS should matter more than the sex of the source, which can be considered for many purposes an accident of heredity like hair or eye color. Certainly being a woman or man gives a person a different perspective on many things in life. Facts of biology are not what I find to be most important or intriguing in conversations about learning, appropriate uses of digital technologies, school change, or other topics, however.
Tim mentions two women in his “short list” of edtech blogger leaders: Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Vicki Davis. There are many, many more female voices (and male voices) in the blogosphere, however, than those listed by Tim and Brian Grenier. What other female bloggers immediately come to mind? I know if I share a “list” then I’ll undoubtedly leave many off, but here are several I either know or have had a conversation with via our blogs:
With over 400 members of WOW2, clearly there are LOTS more I’m not listing and linking to here.
The issues of diversity, leadership, access to technology, and voices “invited to the buffet” which Tim raises in his posts are both important and thought provoking. In summary, I’ll go back to the original point I made about IDEAS. Whether these ideas are expressed by a man or a woman, by someone with brown hair or green hair, THE IDEAS are what are most important. The doors to conversations here in the edublogosphere, and the doors to leadership on local, regional, state, national and international levels for constructive school change, are open wider today than I think they ever have been before. Our responsibility is to keep inviting more people to walk through those doors, to share their ideas, mentor each other, and shape the conversations which will both change us and thereby empower us to help change our own contexts. The process of adaptive change in which we find ourselves in early 21st century schools is a challenging and long-term one. It is happening and will continue to happen, I am convinced, through the fuel of conversations and the power of IDEAS.
Thanks to Brian Grenier for bringing these posts to my attention. If you’ve read this far on this post, take a minute and complete Brian’s short survey he’s posted, to do some informal research about edublogger voices who have edtech advanced degrees. Hopefully my lack of one won’t exclude me from being added to or kept on your blogroll!
Addition 6-18-2007: I’ve added a few more names and links to the above list. I apologize I am not including everyone I should…. this is challenging since I normally do not ask “which of these people I read, know and respect are “women”– I’m much more focused on the IDEAS of the person rather than their “wrapper.” Still, this is an important conversation, and I’m glad to be involved in it. Conversations change us, and I certainly have a lot to learn on many fronts. I don’t have all the answers.
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On this day..
- Learning about Visual Notetaking from Giulia Forsythe - 2013
- #Playingwithmedia: a continuation of learning - 2012
- OLPC 2012 Tablet Video and more from San Antonio this week - 2010
- Turning Point Ministries on Flickr - 2009
- First DimDim online meeting: Debriefing Celebrate Oklahoma Voices Summer09 Workshops - 2009
- Download FireFox 3.0! - 2008
- links for 2008-06-17 - 2008
- Podcast258: Trends, Tools, and Tactics for 21st Century Learning by Kevin Honeycutt - 2008
- Tornado last week in my hometown - Manhattan, Kansas - 2008
- Father's Day Tribute - 2007