Daily Archives: September 25, 2006

One of the major things confronting the education sector is the new ways that digital information can be redirected, reused and reshaped via the format of RSS. I use the word confronting with purpose because it's a word that came through strongly in a comment left by Christine Haynes, an experienced ICT educator following my post reflecting on the Web2Showcase. As an educator myself who has chosen to immerse himself in these technologies, reading educational revolutionaries like Will Richardson, Stephen Downes and Leigh Blackall on a daily basis and conversing with other grassroots peers like Jo McLeay, Doug Noon and Mark Ahlness, it's easy to forget that this network of people is only a tiny fraction of the global teaching force. It explains the comfort level of my fellow presenters, all in tune to the ongoing FNLW unconference unrolling in New Zealand as I write. They're part of the ''Global Conversation" but if you're not involved, it's hard to grasp what is going on. It explains the cross-referencing that went on throughout the entire presentation - how Vonnie could be bookmarking an Alexander Hayes resource based on a conversation I had with him via Skype last week, how Mike could be re-using a Stephen Downes podcast from last week in Africa that even if I hadn't heard it, I was certainly aware of. But what of the audience? Those who've heard about these new technologies and want to work out what the fuss is all about? And those who weren't there (at the venue or connected via the online tentacles of Centra) who are either oblivious or couldn't care less? Is it important to reach out to the wider educator community to make them aware or can our slow moving education system carry the technophobes for a while yet? Maybe there are pockets of expertise that don't require technological impact but I doubt it. And when teachers realise that it's inevitable and they face irrelevancy, will they be able to "catch up" to the teachers making the effort now?

I suppose that's why the Web2Showcase group originally got together - a desire to spread the word, to "educate the educators" about the changing nature of information. It's why I asked for feedback on my last blog post - I wanted to know what impact a small group of Web 2.0 enthused people could have on those who made the time to attend or tune in. I know that 15 months ago I was just as oblivious as some of those serious faces in front of me as I stumbled through the finer points of wikis and StartPages but my entry to the world of Web 2.0 was one of excitement and discovery. Why do I get the feeling that starting out now seems to be more about fear and trepidation? I hope I'm wrong. I hope that "confronting" can be a good thing.

One of the things I was keen on was some feedback from the Showcase. Keen until I read Artichoke's latest post on that very topic where I foolishly attempted to articulate what I was after....

...being on the receiving end of feedback could fall into a few categories:- (a) feedback about the actual performance. Did I speak clearly? Were my demonstrations easy to view? Could people view my web resources adequately? (b) feedback about what the content/concepts/ideas did to people's thinking/perceptions. What are the implications of my topic? What were your immediate reactions to the material? What will it prompt you to do now (or not do)? and then (c) feedback that inflates the ego. Why were we great? Was I wearing a nice shirt? Was it the best presentation of its type you've ever seen?

Arti kindly offered that the shirt indeed might be the key factor and recommended some key reading (which I will follow up) but the deep thinking Bill Kerr added in his observations and then expanded them on his blog. In the end, I have come to the conclusion the only meaningful feedback I will get might well come from good old fashioned chat and conversation with others. As Artichoke pointed then in the comments to Bill:

...even feedback has texture, nuance and poetry - perhaps it is also the case that feedback when offered in f2f encounters makes it easier to determine meaning than feedback offered through text alone. [finding meaning in text can be a treacherous experience]

After all, when you are reading text, it takes a lot of skill to express opinion clearly and coherently in the Web 2.0 world.

For those of us who think that being an educator takes over too much of their life or in the words of a colleague this morning, "What life?", Hugh McLeod has an alternative take to consider.

...in the last hundred years or so we lost the plot. Suddenly "Leisure" started taking over. Suddenly useless things like lying on a beach, reading trashy novels, watching dumb movies, going shopping, attending art openings, and visiting Disneyland started to become not only common, but an end in itself.

The day looked promising enough but....by the end of work, I'd had enough and my normally calm demeanour was showing a few cracks. It wasn't all bad though.

  • Started with a quick trip into school to brief the boss on things that unfurled during her two days away on conference - no problem.
  • Got down to the EDC and checked Bloglines via a web terminal in the reception area as I had left my laptop back in the classroom. Saw that Alex Hayes had left two comments on this blog - more fantastic food for thought. His responses had me mentally tuned to listen out for the word COMMUNICATION in the Leading Learning Conference day I was there to attend.
  • Unfortunately, the Conference was a bit of a letdown. Someone who was due to present couldn't and not much of substance was in its place. I was struggling to connect with the information - it wasn't giving me anything in terms of leadership development and the word COMMUNICATION was nowhere to be seen. Figures.
  • When I got back to school, the entrance to the carpark was blocked by a tree removal truck so I parked in the street in a No Standing zone, not operational until 3pm. I would just shift it later when the truck had gone. Of course I forgot and at 3.07 pm, I got a $50 parking fine. Not happy now.
  • Tried to pay some bills after work and found that credit card payment wasn't accepted - EFTPOS limit for the day couldn't cover it all (insurance bills) so I could only pay some of it and go back tomorrow.

I think I'd better tune into the FLNW feed and relax.........

Flickr Image - no standing by .steve.T