What kinds of changes could we make during the next two years?

Mar 15, 12 What kinds of changes could we make during the next two years?

 The most important change to make in education, which is completely doable during the next two years, is to connect many more educators and schools to each other. So many of our schools are isolated silos with people working diligently to recreate the wheel (or involved in educational practices which, while well-intentioned, are harmful to children).

Social media is one way to connect schools, and in the vast expanse of Canada, it may be the best way. Local conferences on an affordable budget, such as Edcamps, are another way. Collaborative blogs, such as this one, are yet another way. The key is, we need to share more of what works (and especially more of what doesn’t work) in Canadian Education, and the landscape is becoming such that this fundamental change (our interconnectedness as schools) is more likely to happen than ever before.

Too many of us are guilty of sending out endless links through our various social media networks, and not engaging in enough meaningful conversation.

Given the rate of adoption of social media, it seems likely that many more teachers will be involved in using it to connect. We must make sure that we do not forget the social in social media, and that we spend time helping out people new to social media as professional development so they can get through the adoption curve. Too many of us are guilty of sending out endless links through our various social media networks, and not engaging in enough meaningful conversation. I’ve found Twitter to be an incredibly valuable tool for social media, but I remember how lonely it was before I started connecting to other educators through the service.

One area that is especially missing in social media is the voice of the more traditional teacher. While many progressive educators will disagree with their methods and ideas, they provide good questions that we should ask ourselves when implementing change. Finding the answers to these questions will either lead us to a better implementation of a program; or in some cases, the answers we find may require us to abandon a practice.

We also need more voices from aboriginal education. We need to watch out for making lists of people to follow on Twitter which exclude important voices; the best list of people to follow on Twitter is one that includes a variety of perspectives and ideologies. We need to spend less time sharing links to our own blogs, and spend more time commenting on other people’s blogs.

 

Photo by Michael Leung

We also need to remember that the digital connections we have formed are not substitutes for our existing connections; they are in addition to these connections. We still need to meet and see each other in person to build lasting relationships. However, our digital connections can be long-lasting and sustained if we remember that there are people on the other end of those digital connections, and that those people have stories, thoughts, and emotions. Through those connections, we will strengthen our education system.

About David Wees


Father. Activist. Canadian. Educational technology consultant. IB & MYP Math & Science teacher. Geek & Skeptic. Passionate about education.

4 Comments

  1. Guilty as charged, David! Thanks for this sobering reminder that the real value of the new forms of social media lie in the ability to connect with folks to whom we might otherwise not have the opportunity to connect.

    As John Seeley Brown proposes, it’s the power of pull…drawing people and resources into our networks. So many of us, myself included, are still in that “push/broadcast” mode.

    I am going away after reading your comments and formulating some new rules of engagement for my own social media activity.

    Thanks for your participation here!

  2. I have had similar thoughts regarding the “social”. I know people are busy, but social media is at its best and most useful when there is a real exchange of ideas and communication goes in both directions.

  3. Your initial post making the case for embracing the Social Media struck a chord with me David and particularly this passage: “…I remember how lonely it was before I started connecting to other educators through the service.”

    What is it about Twitter that is so addictive? For those of us who thrive on ideas and crave intellectual stimulation, it is like catnip. Too bad about Facebook — it’s a living advertisement for the Age of Narcissism.

    You are to Canada what Tom Whitby has been the United States — a real catalyst for embracing the Social Media and leveraging it to build PLCs in cyberspace.

    I find Tom Whitby to be a refreshingly candid commentator from his various perches on the Internet –http://edupln.ning.com/profile/ThomasWhitby

    Like you, I have high hopes that VoicEd.ca can serve as a catalyst here in Canada.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. David Wees on Social Media Etiquette: For me, It’s About Coming Home | Teaching Out Loud - [...] power that social media has to draw us into meaningful learning conversations. First, I read his inaugural contribution to the voicEd.ca project. …

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