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)!”