links for 2008-11-08


Like most people, I have subscribed to many magazines and newspapers over the years.  Barrie Examiner, Clinton News-Record, Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Games, and a wide variety of computer and educational magazines too numerous to list here.  They were all good value for my dollar and I value the time that I spent with them.

After a while though, I found that I wasn’t getting the value of the entire product for my money.  I would only read certain sections, ignoring others.  You very quickly found your favourite sections and focussed on them.  A quick scan was all that was allocated to the rest of the resource.

My next move might be considered heresy by some.  After all, what’s a good read if you haven’t killed a few trees and have the solitude of being one with printed material.  Oh, to live in the 50s though.

One by one, I stopped renewing and opted for reading them online.  There was no substantial difference in my reading habits.  I still read online from my comfy chair with the television on to enjoy the full multi-media experience.

In addition to reading the same resources online, I started to get a good collection of mailing lists.  Even today, I look forward to anything from David Dillard from Temple in Net Gold, my Edtech list and the Edtech-ers who discuss technology, my ACSE list for Ontario Computer Science teachers, etc.  It’s a great resource pushed to me.

Of course, like most people these days, I use RSS to pull the content to me.  One of my favourite blogs to read is Jeff Pulver‘s.  I have about a dozen that I scan regularly that are worthy of morning coffee time. 

As I started to look at the progression from then until now, it dawned on me.  I no longer subscribe to content; I subscribe to people.

I’m not alone.  Witness the growth of social networking resources like Facebook, Friendfeed, Plurk or Twitter.

My reading and subscription patterns have certainly evolved and changed over the years.  And yet, somehow we remain puzzled when students are bored to tears reading traditional books?  We get frustrated when they talk to each other and collaborate?  How much could be learned and read in the same time that it takes for them to wade their way through a copy of Othello?  And, is it possible to discuss the content and plot development with William Shakespeare?

Things need to change.  We talk about providing a variety of materials for reading to reach everyone.  Great strategies.  Why then isn’t reading a good, informative blog, that engages you and draws you into the conversation required for all students?  Day by day, we have students engaged in unbridled learning outside the classroom.  Shouldn’t we be harnessing it?

Or, would we ruin it by making it curriculum and ultimately testing it?

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