Saturday, October 25, 2008

Creating a Disturbance!

It’s been a fascinating Saturday morning. There’s touch of Fall in Georgia. The drone of TV election news is compelling. The irresistible 2008 K12 Online Conference begs for my attention. My Google Reader is filled with inviting new treasure. An important new project sits on my desktop demanding my time. Does this communicate that I feel the draw, the imperative, the reality, the momentum and the TIME CRUNCH associated with CHANGE? Odd, I think, that a blog post should take priority when so many stimulating choices and obligations compete for my morning. Howe-e-e-e-v-v-v-r-r-r-r! I’m humming an old song to new steps. Go ahead! Click the video. Listen to the words. See the old ponies doing new steps to an old tune! This is proof! We can all do new steps. Click the video and hear the song that's on my mind as you read on about a new step we must take.

“And I won’t stop trying (step, step) till I create a disturbance (shrug, shrug) in your mind (tap,shuffle)!”

I started the morning by visiting a link to Stephanie Sandifer’s Change Agency to skim a post I’ve been saving for “prime time” reading. Stephanie’s personal account of moving from “KNOWING to DOING” with Web 2.0 tools describes a transformation. She’s done it! She’s moved from the stage of “familiarizing and talking about” tools to “accomplishing” with them. Stephanie took the leap from “knowing” to “doing” and adeptly describes the difference between the two in her post The Knowing - Doing Gap. I left this post on Stephanie’s blog.

I can relate to the positives of being in a “doing” situation! It is important to have opportunities to KNOW but it is also essential be able TO DO if one is to learn deeply and personally. I was very pleased to read that you too are encouraged and motivated by having a place to really apply your knowledge of Web 2.0 tools in productive and meaningful ways. I think your personal example speaks volumes about the ways we educate our students today. Too often our students are caught in the “knowing-doing gap.” Educators typically honor students’ need “to know” but fail to provide learning paths that include opportunities “to do.” There is a world of difference between knowing and doing - and your relevant example makes that point so well. Thank you for sharing!
The timing for reading Stephanie’s post could not have been better. Last night I was completely “taken” with Alec Couros’ K12 Online Conference presentation “Open, Connected, Social: Reflections of an Open Graduate Course Experience.” The viewing experience is a total package – a real “trip!” The viewer is entertained, taught, challenged and extended. But, as it is when one is taking new steps,” I was caught by ONE statement amidst the wealth of information that led me to post this comment in Alec’s blog :
Really enjoyed the entertaining and informative presentation, Alec. For me, a key point drawn from your presentation was the recommendation to “focus on HOW the new tools guide student learning rather than the ‘coolness factor’ of the tools themselves.” This important “take away” will stay with me. I agree that the real challenge is not learning to use the tools. The tools are relatively easy to use. Rather, the challenge (and innovation!) is discovering how to best facilitate LEARNING while managing the tools. Wouldn’t it be powerful to have educators keenly focused on HOW to best use *insert name of Web 2.0 tools* to deepen and accelerate student learning? Now, THAT is a course I’d like to take!
You see, there’s a “disturbance in my mind” that is rattled by posts like David Warlick’s 9/24/08 2¢ Worth "If 'It’s not about the technology,' then What is it About?" and David Truss’ 10/21/08 Pair-a-dimes post POD – a passionate and “appropriately disturbed” reaction. It appears that these two thinkers are concluding that the time for “familiarizing and talking about” tools is ending - and a time for “accomplishing” with the tools is upon us. I'm so sure of this. The time for demonstrating education's knowledge of the tools by DOING all that must be done to “accomplish” school reform for the 21st century is ripe and well overdue.

Right before I began this post, I watched Alice Barr, Cheryl Oakes and Bob Sprankle in their K12 Online presentation “How Can I Become Part of this ReadWriteWeb Revolution?” Boy, did I hear the old music and see the new steps! There they are – three educators who are familiar with the tools – making the transition from “knowing to doing” and urging us all to START DOING NOW. So, given their inspiration, I put down the remote control (leaving McCain and Obama to fend for themselves) to DO SOMETHING. This blog is a very small part. But...I'm not through. "I won’t stop trying (step, step) till I create a disturbance (shrug, shrug) in your mind (tap, shuffle, bow)!”


  1. Hi Beth,

    I really like your focus on 'disturbance' as it suggests discomfort. I think REAL learning is inherently uncomfortable because it challenges us to both think and act in new ways.

    Like a pebble being dropped in a pond, I think the 'disturbance' is most noted with those nearest you (or should I say those in your network? Since physical proximity no longer matters). As the ripple moves away from you, your influence may be smaller, but there is no telling who else you will inspire to throw their own pebble... or as you say, 'DO SOMETHING'!

    Thanks for making a splash! ;-)

  2. fantastic post Beth. I can't agree more with the tools. In fact, I promote the idea of using two core components - reflective writing and digital story telling. Projects I design for teachers, and PD I run, allows them to learn about and use just 3 from the hundreds. We have to start with the end in mind, and strategically evaluate which tool could be used to reach that goal. Students have to determine how that tool will work best for them, so really, the teacher is making sure kids pass through knowledge 'gates' - and reflect what that will mean to their overall learning.

    I love the parts you've pulled out. k12 is not time zone friendly for me, so reading this is fantastic.

  3. Beth,
    This is a wonderful post! I've really enjoyed reading this and I've added you to my reader as I'd love to continue reading you.

    And that's just it ... all this stuff, it's not about the specific tools at all ... the tools just allow me to get to places like this, to meet writers and thinkers like you. For my students, sometimes it just takes one video, one blogpost, one comment ... and they're hooked ... not on the tool, but on the connection.

    I am looking forward to connecting in the future ... all the best!

  4. Dave, Dean, and Alec,
    I was in a school lately that adopted the motto "Whatever it takes!" as the inspiration for 21st century service to students. Your comments remind me that "WHATEVER" includes a "ripple" of disturbance, a plan to guide teachers toward tools for DOING, and an infrastructure for connecting learners to the global education community. Thank you so much for your insightful comments!

  5. Hi, Beth,
    the KNOWING-DOING GAP is an exact description for the problem I have got with learning at German schools. Teacher training over here helps young teachers quite a lot in how to use 21st century teaching and learning, but when they are finally employed at a school, they get caught in the trap. Also, those teachers who want to apply new methods are caught in it, not to mention the students. There is always the tradition of methods and assessment methods which are pre-set by the school system. The German school system seems especially ineffective and inflexible. I would like to invite you to take a glimpse of it on http// and I would like to know how it compares to the one in your part of the world. I can only say that in every-day business, it is pretty hard to keep up learning with Web 2.0 tools - you see: I´m in the trap, too! But your ideas and support give me strength to rearrange learning processes in every-day business, and the next step would be helping some colleage out of the trap, as well, even if I don´t know how to do that, yet!

  6. I'm also adding you to my aggregator.