Open Thinkering


Serendipity, living in an echo chamber, and Learning to Change.

A few months back I bought a book entitled World Changing: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century. I managed to get it for the bargain price of £3 from a discount bookshop. I even haggled for money off as the cardboard sleeve had a small tear in it. What can I say? I’m a skinflint… 😉

But I’m drifting off my point. I began reading the Editor’s introduction this morning, which includes the paragraph:

Because the planet seems so large to each of us as individuals, it’s easy to forget how many of us there are (over six billion and counting) and how much stress we collectively put on the earth. Though it’s not always east to see it as we go about our days, our current way of life is unsustainable, and that which is not sustainable does not continue. We are using up the planet, one person, one day, one decision at a time; we’re not considering the consequences.

And then, just now, going through my feed reader, I come across the following blog post from CommonCraft team kindly shared by Richard Platts:

We work from home. We make videos, we put them on the Web, people watch them. We track our views, our Technorati links, our mentions in Twitter, our blog comments. A good percentage of people we see in social situations in Seattle are aware of our work. Most of the email we receive is about the videos and of course, it dominates our discussions at home. This is all misleading and a bit unhealthy.

It’s too easy to start making assumptions – assumptions about general awareness, about the number of people who really know what’s happening in “our” online world. Viewed from the comfort of our living room, bookmarked pages and social circles, the Web looks pretty small and awareness looks pretty big. It’s too easy to assume that people have heard about the tools and sites we use everyday.

But they haven’t. In real terms, no one has. I look at Las Vegas as a cross section of the US. At any moment there are people from every state and many countries. They are the General Public in a lot of ways. I sat back and asked myself – forgetting Common Craft – do these people know about Twitter? Has Flickr become part of their world? What about wikis, do they care? Are they using RSS readers? My completely anecdotal evidence says the answer is no. In our own little online world, it’s too easy to assume they do.

Richard Platts shared the above with this note:

It’s easy to assume a change is happening in the world of education because we see more and more people joining the edublogosphere. But in terms of the number of educators the world over, it’s just a drop in the ocean.

What are we doing to get the message out about the way young people should be taught in the 21st century? Are we just preaching to the choir?

I hope not. Next year, I’ll be E-Learning Staff Tutor at my school. In practice, that means half a timetable of teaching, and the rest of the time working with members of staff, encouraging them to use educational technology, team-teaching, researching and developing, and so on. One of the first things I’m going to show them all together is the following:


Thanks again to Richard Platts for the link. OK, so it might be slightly biased, but it’s a great conversation starter.

What are YOU planning to do next academic year to get the message out?

10 thoughts on “Serendipity, living in an echo chamber, and Learning to Change.

  1. Doug,

    I’m really interested in your new role as ‘e-learning staff tutor’. I think it’s a great idea. We’ve done something similar at since Jan when I went and, basically, moaned at the Head saying that I’m supposed to be ICTAC yet I teach 21/25 hrs – and have a dept. to run as well as a-level teaching at a neighbouring college – yet how am I meant to move staff forward? (And I’m now where near your level of expertise). We came up with a plan to employ someone who would be ICT skilled but not focused on hardware, and would be based in my classroom but would have outreach to the rest of the school. We fell lucky when we got someone to apply who was interesting in gaining experience in a school ahead of a possible PGCE.I set up an ‘iRequest’ systen whereby staff log their reguests online and the our new person responds to them – actions the task, goes into lesson to offer support etc. It has been a resounding success – and this is the key. Staff need to have the support in the same way we’d have someone to help with bulk photocopying for instance if we’re all to move forward…….I applaud your school for having the vision to put you in such a productive role….

  2. Hi Pete,

    Good to hear from you again after the session last autumn. 🙂

    To be honest, it’s more me pushing for the role and my Head having the foresight to see it’s a good idea, rather than it coming from the school.

    A few months ago I went proposing the position of ‘Digital Literacies Co-ordinator’ (which would tie in with my Ed.D.) but to get to that position, we need staff to be up-to-speed. Hence the position that’s been created for me next year! 😀

  3. Doug,

    Digital Literacies co-ordinator sounds like a bit of an AHT job to me! For me the biggest problem, in my role, is lack of staff knowledge/effort to change that…..and thus getting the time to work with them. We have 1 staff meeting per 9 week cycle devoted to ICT, and I do a weekly tip in the bulletin to try and showcase new stuff in ICT but staff still are very slow on the uptake. For me it is about people taking more ownership for their professional development…’s about taking the time at home to read blogs, subscribe to stuff, and then try it out in the classroom etc.

    And as you mentioned it – the session was a bit of a defining moment for me in my role at school to be honest! 🙂
    Following your input……
    We’ve set up message boards, wikis and really moved the school on with

    which I’d recommend for anyone who has the ear of a headteacher at school and is interested in ‘digital literacy’.Nearly every member of staff have used it so far – even if it’s to make a moviemaker for them, scan some text-books, or just how to sign in to a wiki! The Leading Edge Day was great although we did send back those ‘free’ textpads from Russell Prue!!! 🙂

  4. Well, you’ve hit the nail on the head, Pete. My Headteacher wasn’t willing to create a new Senior Leadership Team position for me just yet… 😉

    Glad the session helped moved things forward in your school. The iRequest feature looks marvellous! Am I right in thinking that it’s powered by the free Request Tracker program? It’s definitely something I’ll be looking at for next year. Thanks! 😀

  5. Yeah it is by Request Tracker. We have the same for booking of IT rooms, reporting a hardwear problem, and the Literacy co-ordinator set one up for his area (though not nearly as popular as mine!!!) Just hope apple don’t get hold of our stealing their brand name….:-)

  6. Doug,

    Glad you found a nugget in my shared items — I've been using them to flag discussion worthy… Personally I decided to run an evening "FLEX" session on PLNs — hopefully early in the year when people are motivated to learn new things — it's not the most revolutionary concept in the world, but a knowledge of the tools that can be used to build a global network that inspires, motivates and educates every day is invaluable to me, and hopefully to my colleagues too. If I can communicate that MY professional development happens every day, not just in the large group sessions that they complain about, then I will have accomplished something.

  7. Sorry about the double comment, but I wanted to say that I am not sure we are preaching to the choir, but we may just be rehearsing and developing our skills. As we recruit more people, the choir gets bigger, and we have more skills to develop — improving the integration of technology in teaching and learning is a slow process, just like all changes in education. Some will embrace it, some will reject it, some are on the fence right now. The Learning to Change video gets it right when the lady says to get the tools into the teacher's hands. . . that's what I'm trying to do.

    1. You’re all over MMO’s, aren’t you Dean? Someone in a session I was in at the
      #molenet conference yesterday was pretty much saying that all teenagers
      should go on ‘raids’. 😉

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