Sylvia Duckworth’s Sketchnote about Teacher PLNs is a wonderful thought starter for me and I hope for others as well.
It reminded me of a conversation that we had in planning years ago. The question was thrown on the table.
“Why would I want a teacher to connect with someone half way around the world when they won’t talk to their colleague down the hall?”
It wasn’t posed by a luddite; it was meant to get us thinking deeper about just what it was we were planning to do. And, what we were planning to do was to replace an ancient email system that I had installed on a trial basis for a few of us to investigate just what we could do and to prove the value of it with others. By today’s standards, it was pretty lame although functional. You could send and receive email messages and that was about it. Looking back now, I’m not sure it would even do CC or BC. It really was primitive but it was free so hey.
We wanted so much more.
Not only did we want to be able to talk to the teacher down the hall but we wanted to be able to talk to teachers with the same passion throughout the board. Some of us had worked with and I had actually run a Bulletin Board System for my students and for anyone else who wanted to join. We knew that when you set aside discussion areas that people would jump at the chance to talk and collaborate. I had also set up a BBS on the local network at school and turned the keys over to a group of students to manage it. They did a wonderful job and learned the challenges of approving and denying messages and standards and so much more…
All of this was a drop in the bucket to what we have today.
When you get past the mindset that the only person that you want to work with is the other teacher down the hall, Sylvia’s Sketchnote takes on new and deeper meaning. But, if you’re reading my blog, you know that. You’re connected to the internet and either intentionally or accidentally stumbled onto this post. It’s a choice and a decision that you’ve made if you’re doing this from at home. It’s a choice and a decision that you’ve been allowed if you’re doing this from your place of work.
There are many educators that aren’t able to make that choice. The choice and decision made by their employer have prohibited this. It’s an intentional act to block access to blogs. It falls into the same category of blocking Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, … as a choice and a decision.
There are times when decisions and choices are made that make it just inconvenient to the point of discouragement. You might have to load this to get email, that to get discussions, this to get to Twitter, that to get to … There are only so many minutes in an educator’s day. In this case, priorities are set and getting to collaboration has to rank behind checking out job postings or finding out what to wear on crazy shirt day. The savvy educator will work at developing solutions to get around this. For example, subscribing and bringing all these things to your mailbox is a great way to do this. According to my WordPress statistics there are far more subscribers than people that actually visit the blog directly.
And that’s just one drop in the big internet learning bucket.
Go back and take a look at the Sketchnote. How much of the discovery, connections, collaboration could be accomplished if you only had email as a tool?
Is that sufficient when we’re talking about 2016? Shouldn’t the whole buffet of tools be available to all teachers and classrooms? Shouldn’t the choice and decision be made to promote as much ability to learn and communicate as possible? Can we really expect to barricade the outside world and then wonder why we’re not doing anything innovative? After all, if you’re blocked from doing so, so is that teacher down the hall. So much for learning at the point of instruction.
What’s in your toolkit that makes all this possible? Mine lies in tabs that are pinned and logged in in my browser.
Can you do it all at school or do you have to wait until you get home?