Yesterday, following Maria Henderson’s mention of Rachel Fershleiser’s book “Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure” and challenge to apply this model to twenty-first century learning, I tweeted the following:

New meme #21c6w tweet a 6 word story that communicates the essence of 21st century learning

Twitter / Wesley Fryer: New meme #21c6w tweet a 6 ...
So far, I think people have submitted some pretty creative ideas. (Definitely better than my own.) Some of my favorites so far are:

“allow me 2 collaborate 2 educate” (Anita Harris)

“my kids and I learned together” (lisibo)

“You create, I comment, all learn!” (acrozier22)

“I share, you share, we learn” (Elaine Plybon)

“Now the world is my cohort” (Joshua Williams)

The most thought provoking response, however, came from Jake Little:

“Shouting into darkness, waiting for response”

How many times DOES social media feel this way? Apparently often, for many people, and I think those reasons are worth exploring.

candle in the darkness

This afternoon I shared a presentation over video as part of the Tandberg Connections Program titled, “Introduction to Twitter.” One of the participants has previously set up a Twitter account, had posted a few things, and had lost interest. She had not followed anyone. She attended today’s presentation over video to learn why other people liked Twitter and why.

From what I understood Clay Shirky to say in his book, “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations,” a large percentage of social media use today involves people communicating with others in common face-to-face social networks. The emergence of “fans” and “stars” in social media follows the power law Shirky talks about often in his book. On pages 124-125 he wrote:

This pattern is general to social media: on mailing lists with more than a couple dozen participants, the most active writer is generally much more active than the person in the number-two slot, and far more active than average. The longest conversation goes on much longer than the second-longest one, and much longer than average, and so on. Bloggers, Wikipedia contributors, photographers, people conversing on mailing lists, and social participation in many other large-scale systems all exhibit a similar pattern… Fewer than two percent of Wikipedia users ever contribute, yet that is enough to create profound value for millions of users…. most large social experiments are engines for harnessing inequality rather than limiting it.

power law distribution

As we struggle to understand “the new literacies” of our age, in both six word “stories” as well as longer tomes, it’s important to acknowledge and understand the dynamics of the power law. While access to the Internet and blogging platforms theoretically can give everyone a loud voice, the dynamics of individual human and social psychology mean that not everyone wants to have a loud voice online or will. If you feel like you are tweeting or blogging “into the darkness,” instead of quitting, seek out a room with some light.

candles burning together

The next three weeks, the FREE K-12 Online Conference provides an outstanding opportunity to reflect, share, and connect. On the Ning site for the conference, participants are able to share Twitter IDs along with blog or other website addresses. The conference is as much about connecting and sharing as it is about consuming and listening.

Jake’s 6 word story reminds me how important it is that we find ways to help students in our classrooms become thoughtful and responsive audiences for each other in the social media landscape. Kathy Cassidy’s presentation from K12Online08, “We Like Our Blogging Buddies: The Write Stuff with Blogging Mentors” remains one of my favorite examples of this ethic. How wonderful it would be if we see more classrooms following the lead of Kathy and connecting with blogging mentors as well as partners to improve expressive literacy skills.

How is this for a six word story on the “#21c6w” meme?

Thoughtfully listening and responding to others.

Certainly that does NOT describe much of the commenting we see happening on YouTube every day. It should, however, characterize a lot of the communication we see taking place inside and outside our classrooms.

In 6 words, what does 21st century learning mean to you? Please join our brainstorm.

And our conference. :-)

Let’s “bridge the divide” by letting our lights shine together.

k12online09flyer-GMT

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