I really enjoyed catching up with Alan Levine and Michael Coghlan over some fabulous Malaysian food in Gouger Street last night. Despite his virally ravaged throat and low energy levels, Alan was great to trade ideas with and I would love to have been able to make it to tomorrow's presentation that has him here on behalf of the Australian Flexible Learning Network. In between roti and peppercorn chicken and other great dishes, we traded Web 2.0 edutalk and the tool that kept popping up regularly was twitter. Alan made note of this in his post but I want to tie this to something I noticed earlier in the day.
I checked in on twitter mid afternoon and saw a tweet from a fellow Aussie teacher, Russel Montgomery. He'd just posted on his blog and was using his twitter network to ask for some feedback. Russel wrote:
What I want to write about it is the rate of change that I find myself caught up in. It is meteoric. …. and for my life perhaps is becoming catastrophic. I am not sure.
Anyone who's got on the online treadmill of late will notice that things seem to be getting faster and faster, new stuff, can it be applied to education, how do we get others on board, they're getting further behind .... hell, I'm getting further behind! Russel's post concluded with the following query:
Anyway I am curious as to how the rest of my education network is coping with all this. How do you maintain a healthy balance between the various elements of your life? How do you manage the passion for reform over against the necessities of living a semi-normal life?
I can really relate to this - in fact, this issue is probably the cause of my rant against hype. But I reckon I have a few pointers to give to Russel and even some of his commenters in terms of keeping things in balance - in fact, it's only one real pointer. I remarked at one stage to Alan during the evening that twitter was only as good as the network you had assembled with it. To me, that's the key to the balance of this whole unreal exponential trip that we self styled and self identified edubloggers have embarked. Build your network with care, adding names that can help you get to grips with any tool or issue so that you don't have to rush around like a headless chook trying to try everything.
Here's what I mean. I know hardly anything about Second Life - I made an avatar once and I think I need a software upgrade to get back in - but as Sean Fitzgerald is part of my network (whether he like it or not!) I don't need to be. Mobile learning? Try Alex Hayes or Leonard Low. Classroom pedagogy - Konrad Glogowski, Chris Harbeck or Jo Mcleay. I have my design experts, open source sources, higher ed, international schools, all on my network so I don't have to an expert in any of it. I just need to find them when I need them. That way, I can go to bed at 10.30 pm every night knowing that something I miss will be archived, that in my aggregator someone will review that new cool tool. And I can just focus on what I'm best at and be that node on someone else's network.
-meeting folks face to face….nothing like it.
-my research team works for me day and night…you’re one of them
When are you coming to Moose Jaw? I have a tee time with your name on it.
Been waiting for someone to tackle this question in earnest lately. So much of what we learn depends on the quality of the network we assemble, but also, much of what we do tends to be “on the fly.”
Great care should be assembled into creating the “nodes” we attach to our network, and you brief illustration gives us a great model to build from.
Graham, you are quite right to rant against the hype. One must seek that measured approach and an equilibrium between life and work. There is a lot of hype out there and some of it does make me cringe. I clearly remember all the hype that came with multimedia CD-ROMs and the like. It was the brave new world. Where are all the CD-ROMs now?
We should remember to slow down, pause and take stock. Seven years ago I was working at a mad pace. My body could not keep up. It decided to stop for me and I spent five or so days in a Singaporean hospital. That was a lesson learnt.
The skills to manage the “firehose” of information and collaboration opportunities are ones that must be developed by the modern teacher or as you point out wisely, John, we can become so stretched and burnt out by trying to be up with the latest developments in the technology world that we put our own life balance and well being at risk. We need to be models of moderation for the students we teach and be able to be proficient in assessing the worth of any new development, tool or idea. How can we convince our less tech-savvy colleagues to at least dip their toes in if all they see is a wild-eyed, frazzled, sleep deprived individual in front of them!
It’s definitely worthwhile to build your own network of expertise – but you can’t add everyone and everything into it. When I hold a class meeting with my Year 5/6 class, we often discuss issues that are important to 11 and 12 year olds. One of the rules we follow is that when a topic is opened up for discussion, someone can only speak if they are adding something new to the conversation. No rehashing of someone else’s point or just saying, “Me too.” So, apply that same thinking to your network – no multiple sources of the same stuff, look for unique voices and perspective. Hmmm… probably need to follow my own advice and jettison feeds and links that aren’t serving their purpose.
I’ve stopped reading posts by people who only want to tell which airport they are are currently in. 🙂 Saved a heap of time.
Try this link to the ten laws for simplicity.
or this one to the TED talk presentation from the author
Nothing rocket science in it but some really good reminders.