Will Richardson Reflection on Blogging

What is your reaction? What do you think?

Transparency-- a new meaning?

A shift-- from private to public, from isolation to collaboration in learning-- Doesn't the potential for deeper understanding, for more accomplished practice outweigh any reluctance holding us back?
"Blogging is an “outering” of the private mind in a public way (that in turn leads to the multi-way participation that is again characteristic of multi-way instantaneous communications). Unlike normal conversation that is essentially private but interactive, and unlike broadcast that is inherently not interactive but public, blogging is interactive, public and, of course, networked - that is to say, interconnected. (2004)" --Lowe and Williams

"Learning involves encountering something new, and reflecting on it. But it's not solitary reflection, but coming to a better understanding in collaboration with others." --Miguel Guhlin A great transparency story in this post--

"All of this boils down to a natural fear of transparency. Going public, or in the case of blogs, global, with the work we all do in education can be frightening and intimidating. We all fear being judged negatively when we take a risk and try something outside the mainstream. It would be quite a blow to my ego and self-esteem to be told that I'm a terrible teacher. Making my process in the classroom transparent opens me up to criticism and, like you, I don't like to be criticized. On the other hand, being aware of my shortcomings engenders and encourages growth -- I become a better teacher. I have learned more about teaching and learning in the last ten months then I have in the previous ten years; all because of blogging. Everything I've ever done that has helped me to become a better teacher has been the result of taking a chance -- taking a risk. Taking risks for the purpose of growing and learning is something I try to teach my students in the classroom every day. If I don't take risks myself how can I possibly teach my students to do so? If administrators and superintendents (our leaders) don't take risks, how can they possibly expect teachers to do so?" --Darren Kuropatwa

"You should do it because you want to articulate your thinking and make your ideas transparent to a growing community of critics who can force you to rethink and revise. You should do it because you want to connect your thinking to the thinking of others and create new notions together. You should do it because you want to learn—and because you know that learning requires interaction." --Bill Ferriter

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Extending the Conversation--Examining a Comment

A recent conversation-- in reaction to the following statements:

"Is Technology Producing A Decline In Critical Thinking And Analysis?

As technology has played a bigger role in our lives, our skills in critical thinking and analysis have declined, while our visual skills have improved, according to research by Patricia Greenfield, UCLA distinguished professor of psychology and director of the Children's Digital Media Center, Los Angeles.

Learners have changed as a result of their exposure to technology, says Greenfield, who analyzed more than 50 studies on learning and technology, including research on multi-tasking and the use of computers, the Internet and video games."

One comment from many (I've highlighted certain elements in blue for emphasis):

I’ve been sitting on my hands for a few days wondering how and whether I should respond to this post. I have watched increasing promotion of it on Twitter and through blogs and felt a strong desire to come here and respond in the comments. I’ve read through your post and the comments many times in an attempt to compose my thoughts in a reasonable manner. I admire your enthusiasm and commitment to making a difference in the world, through hands-on engagement with learners. You have a strong following and a well-recognized voice in the field. Some of my dearest friends and people I admire most are promoting this post and so I spent considerable time thinking of an appropriate response.

You obviously feel passionately about your post and hope to generate discussion and action. I was surprised to see you mention in the very first paragraph that you had not even read the study. To me, this is a huge issue and one that would lead me to instantly be cautious of a rebuttal. Yet, I find the readers accepting and promoting your post as something of high importance. Not only did you admit to not reading the study, you claim to have read a summary of an article about the journal article about the study. I tend to be extremely cautious with evaluations so far removed from the original source. I’ve gone back to read the 4-page report on the study, and the article you reference has greatly misconstrued the original intent and language of the study.

The second thing that bothers me is that for educators advocating for inquiry learning, the headline, “Is Technology Producing A Decline In Critical Thinking And Analysis?” ought to be an exciting stimulus to valuable educational discourse. When I read that heading, I automatically think of opportunity, not “Code Red.” What a great article to bring straight to students to let them locate original sources, context and discussion and discover their own meaning.

Thirdly, I found your rebuttal surprising, in that it is essentially the foundational “ed-tech manifesto,” with language that has been used in this debate for at least a decade. Your arguments include the same content of a million ed tech blog posts. You’ve not introduced anything new, nor encouraged critical thinking. Both sides know there are good and bad examples of technology use. Debating their examples of improper use with your examples of successful adoption neglects to address the real issues of inadequate administration and teachers, and technology adoption that does not take into consideration the individual circumstances in every classroom, school or other learning environment.

My fourth concern is that you mention, “All sorts of ed sites are giving totally unquestioning air time,” yet you don’t provide any links to these sites. If you truly feel the desire to spur action on the part of your readers, it might be nice to guide them to conversations where they can engage with those on the other side. Bringing a passionate stance to those who already follow and agree with you will not lead to education transformation. If this study has the chance of making the impact you foresee, isn’t this a huge opportunity to introduce your philosophies to those who are unfamiliar with your work?

I want to know what we can do to bring these sides together to discuss opportunities for real educational research, sharing of resources and data and collection of success stories linked to data that will help educators determine the best technology opportunities for learning with their individual populations. I applaud your enthusiasm and passion, but I do question your approach to this topic and wonder if there may be a better way to spread your message to those who have not heard it and adopted some of your successful strategies. I do think there is merit in questioning the current state of educational research, as well as the quality and accuracy of the online reviews of studies. I think that part of your message is valid, but also makes it even more surprising that you are debating an article so far removed from the research. The original article features 56 references, so readers have ample opportunity to do more research and debate. I would encourage others to read it before heading out to the blogosphere to debate articles five times removed.

Posted by Jennifer Jones on 02/04/2009 @ 02:02PM PST
What elements in this comment extend the conversation and deepen learning?

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Following the Trails of Dialogue and Learning

Dialogue that deepens and extends learning leaves a trail in the comments--

Are there elements of comments that enable and encourage those conversations?

What if a comment--
  • Seeks to validate the ideas by respecting the perspective of the post author
  • Notes areas of agreement/celebrate accomplishments
  • Respectfully disagrees citing examples/readings
  • Asks a meaningful question to extend the conversation

Would comments framed by those ideas create a trail of significant dialogue and learning?

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Join in the conversation

Join in the conversations! On the left sidebar, under "Selected Professional Conversations", select one. Add a comment. Extend the dialogue--

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How can your active participation in the conversations impact your professional learning? Or can it?

What value for learning or not do you find in these spaces?

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