In my recent presentations and workshops for teachers and librarians titled, “A Summer Of Professional Learning Choices for Educators! Where Should I Start?” I have enjoyed introducing teachers to the Classroom 2.0 learning network.


Visit Classroom 2.0

With over 8000 current members as of this writing, Classroom 2.0 is a fantastic place for teachers to make connections with other educators across their state or providence, or across the globe! Joining and utilizing an online learning community like Classroom 2.0 is one of the best ways to help teachers personally experience and therefore understand the learning and collaboration potentials latent within the web 2.0 tools now at our fingertips.

Today when I checked my Diigo account, I saw I had four new friend requests. This is not an unusual ocurrance, since more and more educators are discovering and using Diigo, but it did seem remarkable that these four requests were from educators in four different countries in different parts of our world: from China, the United States, Israel, and Honduras.

Amazed by international connections!

This simple event is absolutely amazing, when I stop to think about it. The fact that free tools now exist which permit me, as an educator, to connect with the thoughts, ideas, and work of others located in different parts of the planet is both exciting and extremely difficult to comprehend. This type of capacity to directly connect and communicate (essentially for free, because it can be done at zero cost beyond what I have already spent to be connected online) has not existed in any previous era of human history. As our digital information landscape continues to morph and dynamically change before our eyes, I marvel that events like this can take place at all.

I continue to struggle with a strategy to help educational leaders in my own community experience and understand these powerful, constructive potentials of read/write web technologies. This evening driving to dinner, I had what may be an epiphany. Rather than ask to meet with administrative staff leaders, write letters, or organize a campaign of advocacy on a broad scale, I think it might be more effective to directly help members of our local school board to setup their own personal blogs and then utilize them to communicate regularly with constituents. I’ve previously read about Larry Lessig’s advocacy for blogging in higher education and government law circles, which he has done by helping others setup and use a personal blog. I think his example in this context is an excellent one to follow.

I am going to try this tactic. Personally experiencing the connective power and potential of web 2.0 is the key to understanding, or at least glimpsing, the reasons why we need to empower our students and teachers to utilize these tools regularly as part of their regular learning activities of the day. Will such a path result in changed hearts and minds about blogs, wikis, and other social networking tools in my own school community? I don’t know. Besides continuing to work on our statewide “Celebrate Oklahoma Voices” project (because “it matters” at so many different levels) this idea of helping board members setup and use personal blogs seems like the most practical course of advocacy moving forward in my own school community.

I’ll be sure to “report in” on my progress as I embark on this new pathway of local advocacy for “the learning revolution.” :-)

I am Here for the Learning Revolution

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On this day..

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  • http://drtimtyson.com/blog Tim Tyson

    Wes, I’ve been thinking the very same thing lately. I only know my personal journey as a blogging administrator and haven’t given enough thought to the universal aspects of administrative blogging–getting it started for incredibly busy people who have unending demands placed on their time.

    What do you think are the steps for welcoming educational administrators into an effective and enjoyable blogging experience include? How do we make blogging an meaningful, irresistible experience for administrators?

  • http://ideasandthoughts.org Dean Shareski

    Tim,

    First off, administrators aren’t any busier than anyone else. Perhaps more stressful, but again, that’s all about perspective. Teachers are busy, everyone’s busy so I’m not sure they should be placed in separate category.

    That said, to me leaders of any type need to consider moving their offline conversations online for the simple fact that they control the medium. Rather than leaving it up to other sources or staff room gossip to determine the character and direction of an organization, why not take the bull by the horns? I realize that even once they understand the nature of blogging, most have difficult with transparency. They see it as a weakness or providing an opportunity to be further scrutinized or targeted. What they forget is they are anyway, it’s just behind closed doors. Why not take control? Once they establish that, they can move into the more interesting and meaningful conversations around student learning.

    I might recommend Naked Conversations as a starting point to read. It offers up many reasons why leaders should be blogging.

  • http://drtimtyson.com/blog Tim Tyson

    Hi Dean. There is that tension between “appropriateness of audience” conversation we had several months ago. And I agree that everyone needs to get past the adolescent steps of exploration, apparent loss of control, etc. and on to the meaningful implementation–Reminds me of Dan Meyer’s post yesterday about giving out his cell phone number to his students.

    But I guess I’m not asking about why it needs to be done. I’m wanting to explore more the how. How do you, I, anyone help facilitate it happening in the real world. We talk and write about it. And change is happening slowly. But how can we improve on that?

    (And thanks for the book tip–sounds like an interesting read.)

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    Those are great questions, Tim.

    In terms of who is busier, I think we can only really respond from our own frames and contexts– I’ve been in an administrative support role at a college, but not in the role of principal or superintendent (yet) in my career. I do know we are all busy, and helping any educator (administrator or classroom teacher) make the time required to not only start but sustain a new professional activity and sometime hobby like blogging is a tall challenge.

    I think a big part of the “magic” of blogging is the feedback– the idea that there ARE people “out there” listening, responding, thinking, and thoughtfully acting as a result of the professional growth they/we experience “here” in the ether. So I think part of this recipe is helping administrators experience the excitement and even “thrill” which can come from having ongoing, asynchronous conversations with these tools.

    The most ready way to get responses and feedback from posts right now, in my view, is to share something in an active educator social network like Classroom 2.0. While that Ning environment caters mainly to classroom teachers, there are lots of librarians there (I think) and a smattering of administrators. So I guess one of my first suggestions is to invite / convince an administrator to share a post there about a real issue or challenge they honestly want ideas and suggestions on. What you are trying to do, in this context, is help the person experience the beneficial power and potential of an extended learning community.

    A second avenue which occurs to me is to invite an administrator to “guest blog” on an established blog site. This is something I have not given much consideration to in the past, but I will consider in the future. Again, I have seen Larry Lessig use guest bloggers before, and my perception is that those experiences have been positive in terms of helping the new blogger EXPERIENCE the benefits of interactive digital conversations.

    Your word “irresistible” is the one that really sticks in my mind. I love that word in this and other contexts. (One of our pastors frequently uses it for benedictions too.) I agree that for a learning activity to be sustained voluntarily, it ideally needs to be irresistible. To have that impact, perhaps it needs to involve student voices. It is OK to blog for administrative purposes to get out news to parents and teachers, but it is MUCH more potentially exciting to blog and share student work, to solicit feedback from an extended audience.

    Maybe it would be possible to match up non-blogging educators in two different locations, in the same or different countries, and have a team blog where they share student written work, questions or issues? I don’t know. I’m thinking out loud here. The key is there needs to be an audience willing and interested in interacting. When we share and celebrate the work of our students, we naturally invite interested audiences (families and friends) to share in the experience.

    This is a great question and one I’ll continue to consider. I’m interested in hearing what others think too!

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