This comment appears on a Google Doc called ‘Your biggest take away at NECC 2009’. Interestingly, the contributor did not provide their name.
“That our PLN is distancing themselves from the “norm”. There is the sense that most teachers are falling behind. But is the issue becoming that the PLN is getting to far ahead to even notice the difference?
Being a leader also means being a teacher and sometimes that includes repeating things several times.
The biggest take away I saw was Arrogance.”
I found this very interesting. Mostly because it rings true. I think we have to be constantly aware that just because some of us have adapted to new technologies and think they are transformative for teaching and professional learning, we can’t anticipate that others feel the same way.
We need to help others understand, be what our profession expects us to be; teachers. Not just for students, but for our colleagues too. If we don’t model, support and encourage, we do run the risk of appearing to be arrogant. We want knowledge to be powerful for all, not just in the hands of the few who make others feel inadequate without it.
“The biggest take away I saw was Arrogance.”
A damaging statement. We need to work hard to ensure this is not the perception people have. If we don’t, we can’t expect to see others adapt and change their practice.
One of the good things about being on school holidays has been having some time to explore links that take me to blogs I haven’t had a chance to discover due to the demands on time when working. There are two in particular that have caught my eye for different reasons.
First discovery came from a tweet from Alec Couras. He was highlighting the vimeo reflection from Dan Meyer, a maths teacher from California who is five years into the teaching profession. I loved his reflection; it’s one of a series of ten he is making and I intend to watch each one. He is a refreshing voice; a young teacher with ideas and someone who is not afraid to challenge the thoughts and opinions of ‘names’ in the edublogosphere. I had been wondering where the young teachers were in the blogging community; following Dan is going to lead me in the direction of them I’m sure.
dy/av : 002 : the next-gen lecturer from Dan Meyer on Vimeo.
The other interesting blogger for very different reasons is Matthew K. Tabor He writes this about himself on the front page of his blog;
Matthew’s background includes work in higher education, executive recruiting, consulting and government. He consults on graduate/professional school admissions, academic media and educates privately. He writes out of Cooperstown, New York.
What drew me to this blog was a post he has written about why he didn’t attend the NECC conference in Texas titled, A Bit More Education Techno-Twaddle; Why I Avoid NECC, 2008 Edition. This is his take on edubloggercon;
The EduBloggerCon is a tiny part of NECC – I understand that, as some sessions are more sensible than others – but the sheer lack of intellectual diversity [a statement which will undoubtedly be criticized as inaccurate], the techno-fandom, the 100% Process/0% Content split will keep me away. If I wanted to sit on the floor with a notebook, I’d go to a Halo 3 LAN party. At least those have HotPockets and Mountain Dew.
His sentiments marry with the opening keynote from the conference; the need to have a devil’s advocate to help stem the echo chamber effect of listening to like minds. That’s one of the reasons I’m subscribing to his feed; I feel the need to listen to the devil’s advocates. They will stretch my thinking and help shape my thoughts about the use of technology to support learning. The comment thread to this post is very interesting. This was my contribution;
I’m very interested in reading you often now that I’ve discovered you through this post. I’m new to the edublogger world but have been energised and excited through my involvement. I’m more excited about the possibilities for education now than I have been for many years. I was feeling stale but now look at things with fresh eyes. I don’t consider myself a tech geek, far from it, but I do think our teaching can benefit from the experiences technology can enable in our classrooms. My focus remains strongly on how the learning of my students can improve as a result of using technology- I’m not such a zealot that I think it’s the be all and end all of everything that can be achieved in classrooms. I am concerned about the echo chamber effect of working in these networks and welcome the opportunity to read you and others who will challenge my thinking.
We all need to read widely and explore varying opinions – these are the skill sets we expect from our students when they examine a topic of interest. We expect them to have investigated all angles before coming to a conclusion. Good practice that we need to model too.
Last night I wasn’t going to tune in to the NECC buzz. I was tired and knew I was taking to my kids out in the morning to meet up with friends. But a tweet from Will Richardson alerted me to a ustream of Konrad Glogawski’s session about blogging communities and I couldn’t resist tuning in.
While it was exciting being able to see and hear Konrad’s presentation – I still marvel at just what is possible these days! – what was most exciting was the vigorous and thought provoking discussion in the ustream chat. Follow this link to check it out. It was wonderful being able to share ideas with educators from all over the globe. Teacherman 79 has written a post about the experience. Thanks very much Will for enabling this opportunity for those of us not in attendance.
Interestingly enough, I’ve read a post by Chris Betcher (Betchaboy) tonight that has made me think – always a good thing! It’s called Going Live vs Doing Life and I find myself agreeing with Chris’ sentiments. The gist of what he is saying is that perhaps we need to be thinking about immersing ourselves and appreciating the real life experiences we are having rather than focusing on how we disseminate the experience to the world. Probably best to block quote from Chris’ post;
I could be completely wrong, and maybe some of the Twitterers will leave a comment about how they deal with the whole mobile tweeting thing, but I always find that in order to tweet about what I’m doing I have to mentally stop doing it. To me, it’s more than just multitasking, it’s about mental timeslicing and taking your attention off the here-and-now of what’s actually taking place around you in order to tell the Twitterverse about what’s going on around you. This is not meant to be a criticism, and I’m glad that people do it so that others who wish they were there can get an insight into what’s going on, but I hope that folks find the balancing point between actually living the event and spending all their energy helping the event “go live”.
I know that I find it hard to do the mental timeslicing that Chris refers to. Even last night when I was participating in the discussion I had to focus on what I wanted to say and lost some of the thread of Konrad’s presentation and even the chat. I think John Medina talks about the difficulties of trying to multitask in his book Brain Rules. I have a copy of it but haven’t found the time to read it (surprise, surprise, seeing as I’ve been up till all hours of late!!) – I must make this a priority!
Regardless, I’m very thankful to everyone in Texas at the moment who are making genuine efforts to share knowledge through this community. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- this is without doubt the best staffroom I’ve ever been a part of!
I tried to stay up late last night to catch the happenings in Texas at NECC but by 1.00am my eyes were not cooperating. Urgently needed sleep so listened to my body and obeyed. Always wise!
Managed to catch a keynote live this morning Melbourne time. Wasn’t even aware they had scheduled a keynote for what would have been evening in the US. Derral Garrison had set up a ustream of James Surowiecki delivering his presentation based on his book, ‘The Wisdom of Crowds’. I discovered the link late so started watching halfway through the presentation. This is his understanding of what makes a wise crowd (from Wikipedia)
Four elements required to form a wise crowd
Not all crowds (groups) are wise. Consider, for example, mobs or crazed investors in a stock market bubble. Refer to Failures of crowd intelligence (below) for more examples of unwise crowds. According to Surowiecki, these key criteria separate wise crowds from irrational ones:
Some mechanism exists for turning private judgments into a collective decision.
- Diversity of opinion
- Each person should have private information even if it’s just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts.
- People’s opinions aren’t determined by the opinions of those around them.
- People are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.
When I came in he was discussing the problems of existing in an echo chamber – the idea that we function in conversations with like minded people and as a result we reinforce each other’s beliefs. He stated the importance of having people who act as devil’s advocates -people who challenge ideas and get us evaluating our ideas and thinking through concepts with an open mind. When he started talking about the echo chamber my ears pricked up. When I started blogging John Connell wrote a comment welcoming me as a new voice to the conversations – he said something to the effect that it is always nice to have a new blogger enter the fray as it brings new ideas to the table and helps broaden the echo chamber that is the edublogger world. While I was watching from the fringes (hate the word lurking- horrible connatations and not a fair description in my opinion) I had assumed the edublogger world was huge and that I would never gain a voice. I don’t think my voice is terribly significant, but I’ve found I do have one and the edublogger world is not as huge as I imagined.
One of the things I’m noticing in blog posts I’ve read about the conference is the number of ‘names’ (read influential bloggers) who are bemoaning the fact that there are more parties in the discussion now and it’s getting harder to have the kind of in depth discussions like they had at edubloggercon last year. Isn’t this just an indication of exactly what they have been expousing about the adoption of technology for connective purposes. As people switch on to the transformative power of making connections we are going to see more people enter the conversations. We need to embrace the ideas coming from these new entrants and welcome them, not make them feel like newcomers on the block- it may well be that they can serve as devil’s advocates, challenge the thinking and lead us in new directions.
Vicki Davis was using Cover it live to feed observations out from the keynote -worth reading as a reply on her blog . You can catch the keynote in replay (I think) by visiting the NECC site.
I’d recommend you all having a read of Silvia Tolisano’s recent post, ‘Who would listen’. She talks a bit about the types of things that are synonomous with the idea of an echo chamber. It was a thought provoking post. I should have left a comment because it’s been in my mind for awhile now. Another one to have a read of would be Steve Dembo’s post ‘When does average Joe become Joe expert?’ Both of these posts reflect on names in the blogosphere and our tendancy to listen to what they have to say because they have established a name for themselves.
I saw a comment after the keynote from someone who said it wasn’t relevant to education. I think it is really relevant. We have to be aware that when we immerse ourselves with like minded people we can lose perspective. My comment in the ustream chat was that many of us work in schools where we are the one of the few voices suggesting change and the only place we find like minded people in in our PLNs. If we spend a lot of time online we run some risk? of seeing things through the rose coloured glasses we don.
Food for thought anyway.
We used to have a drink here in Australia called Claytons -it was the drink you’re having when you’re not not having a drink. (No alcohol!) Well, I’m having the Clayton’s NECC experience – the conference you’re attending when you’re not attending a conference.
Last night it was Edubloggercon – the unofficial opening of the conference for all the educational bloggers who were fortunate enough to attend. Tony Richards alerted me to the fact that things were starting up and twitter followed not long after. From then on it became a case of chasing the next ustream or mogulos (new live channel program like ustream -set up my own channel after finding it!) live stream so that I could listen to and watch proceedings.
Bud Hunt – who set up a mogulus channel to live stream -also set up a Chatterous group for edubloggercon – I hope if the group is different for the official start of NECC he lets people know via Twitter because I found it invaluable in keeping up with what was going on. Vicki Davis alerted me to it via a tweet. She was another one thinking about those of us not in attendance -constant updates were coming from Vicki about live streams that we could watch.
I spent the next couple of hours with tabs open everywhere trying to track conversations of interest. I don’t know if it’s good or bad being able to flick between screens and choose what you attend – you do lose the thread a bit. It was great to be watching when Dean Groom from Sydney asked a question in one of the sessions. I was able to send him a tweet straight away saying that I was watching him ask a question. Way cool.
A couple things I noticed being said. Jeff Utecht commented that the discussions weren’t deep enough. they got interesting in the last 15 mins and then things had to wind up. David Warlick was live blogging and I was intrigued by this that appeared:
Hummm! so what has to start getting closed down for educators to start realizing that education business is in jeparady?
Thinking about Virtual High School, as more and more students start signing up for online literature, or online history, and principals are going to be coming around and say, “Ms Johnson, our enrollment is down, as you know, and we’re going to have to let you go.”
Hmmm -made me think. Just what is Clay Burell up to??? (You’ve been so tight lipped couldn’t help but think this is where you’re headed!!)
Better get this posted -day two about to start!!
Today’s the first ‘working’ day of my school holidays and I’ve been sitting here musing about the NECC conference that is taking place in San Antonio, Texas over the coming weekend. A group of Australian educators are leaving on a tour today that takes in this conference and I am envious that I’m not travelling with them. After blogging for nearly six months I feel such a part of this network of learning and feel that I’m going to miss so much by not being in attendance. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t follow through and write a proposal to my school asking that I be permitted to attend. It was a possibility, but I quite literally couldn’t find the time to get it done. It sounds ridiculous, but I really don’t feel like I’ve had a spare minute in five and a half months -there was always something more pressing that needed doing and so here I am, musing about what might have been!
I don’t think I really need to worry – my network knows I’m here and I’m sure much from the conference is going to be fed out virtually to those of us watching from the fringes. Vicki Davis has just posted about her Cool Cat Teacher’s PLN that she has very kindly set up which will feed a lot of info to those of us not attending. There’s an NECC 2008 tab where you can track info feeding out of the conference. Vicki has uploaded a presentation that she and Julie Lindsay (an Australian expat working in Qatar) are going to be sharing at the conference. It’s about Digital Citizenship and all going well it should be embedded here.
Lisa Parisi has just written a great reflective post about how we bring others with us as we learn to integrate technology to support the learning in our schools and her feelings about attending NECC for the first time. It’s well worth reading. I love what she has to say about risk and how failure makes us better at what we do – it echoes a post I wrote recently about similar sentiments.
So, to all of you out there lucky enough to be experiencing NECC physically, not virtually, I wish you well. Soak it up!