I’ve been doing some thinking about this lately. I’m in education and so I’m constantly learning. Probably even worse, I’m in educational technology and grass doesn’t grow under anyone’s feet in this area. So, I find that I am constantly reading, researching, and learning. As I create this blog entry, I’m actually having a little back and forth with @thecleversheep. He’s looking at a resource that I found yesterday and bookmarked. In fact, he just sent over this tweet…
That was kind of cool.
In his next breath, he posts about a resource that he had found which, of course, I felt compelled to learn about immediately. I fired back…
But, you know what? The damage had already been done. Based on my message, or Rodd’s, or a Delicious post, or a WordPress post, the learning had grown far beyond the two of us.
This is but a sampling of the retweeting of the original message. These are also only the ones that I’m seeing. There will be other people who continue the learning by themselves and have branched off into different areas.
I think of the alternatives. You know them; you probably were one yourself or maybe still are. Find a great website and print it out and file it in a binder. Or, get a good article from a book and head to the photocopier for your own personalized copy of it. Gasp.
When I think about this, I think about a not-so-nice human attribute. That’s one of selfishness. For the person that’s making the photocopy, putting it in a binder, and then on a shelf, they’re taking a very selfish approach to their learning. For that one moment in time, they may have a nugget of wisdom or a resource that will be helpful to them. However, I’m looking at @thecleversheep’s approach. He’s found the resource, learned from it, and then sent it out to his friends so that they could learn as well. Consequently @teachernz and others now know about it. They’re learning and sharing about the resource and the learning is really taking off. Through their acts of unselfishness, others learn as well. Now, those who are learning may well send the resource to a printer (highly unlikely since this particular resource is a YouTube video) but they’re part of the cycle and pushing the learning forward. It might end up on a blog, in a Delicious account, in a Diigo account, or just tweeted about.
It really doesn’t matter. The fact is that the learning and the sharing is happening. Think back to the learner who selfishly printed the page and it’s now in a binder. Where is that learning going? Maybe it will be photocopied and shared or maybe it will just sit in the binder until shelf space is needed and then get dumped into a recycling bin. Or, even more selfishly into a garbage pail.
Or, it might be used in PD session at some point. Imagine, if you will, the two scenarios. From the paper perspective, the first of the session could be the distribution of paper and the allotment of time to read about the article and then do a little reflection. However, if those who are there have already read the article because it was tweeted or socially bookmarked, or blogged about, the focus of the session could be an immediate conversation about the implications of the resource.
Therein lies so much of the power behind these tools for academic reasons. If you are what you learn, are you a paper dispenser? Or, are you a conversation facilitator? Where does the powerful learning lie?