Monday, October 04, 2010

A Fundamentally Different Place?

Some of you may recall that I announced way back when that I would be blogging for the Tech + Education section of The Huffington Post. Well, it ended up that they changed their minds and never launched that section. Instead, today they launched an Education section and I'll be one of many contributing bloggers (many of whom regular readers of this blog will recognize - and probably already read) to that section.

It was difficult to write my first post for them because I felt the need to "introduce" myself in this new space. That's not at all the style of HuffPo, people just dive right in with what they want to say. But, for me, blogging is still a conversation (or at least it should be) as well as a place of reflection, and it didn't feel right to skip that piece. I felt like people had to have at least some idea of why I had been asked to blog for HuffPo, some idea of the context, so I decided to write an intro piece even though it doesn't really fit with their style.

This is all a long way of saying that my first post probably doesn't say that much to folks who have been reading this blog for any length of time. Despite that, I hope you visit HuffPo Education and support the many folks there that you'll recognize. Join in the conversation, add words of support or push back, but don't let their posts languish in the shadows of the "celebrity" bloggers. I think you should comment on the celebrity bloggers as well, but I think if we take some of the passion and energy we have been a part of on our blogs and infuse that into the conversations on HuffPo Education, then perhaps we can expand this conversation outside of the relatively narrow and confined edublogosphere. And if we do that, then maybe, just maybe, we can create some of the change that we believe our students deserve.

I've cross-posted that first post below. Second post is in the queue at HuffPo, it will hopefully appear soon.

I'm honored to have been asked to contribute to the Education section of The Huffington Post. I'm going to focus mostly on the impact technology has -- or should have -- on education. I'll talk about learning. And students. And teachers. And technology. And how best to do this thing we call school. I hope to have thoughtful discussions about how to leverage the creative, collaborative and connective powers of technology to help our students learn and grow. To help them be successful in school and in work, in their personal lives and as citizens.

Let's review how I got here. In reverse order and slightly abbreviated:
  • Contacted by HuffPo to write for their new Education section.
  • Mentioned in two HuffPo pieces, one by Jose Antonio Vargas and one by Arianna Huffington.
  • Presentation gets shown to or used by various folks, including the National School Boards Association, the Senate Subcommittee on Intelligence (including the heads of all the intelligence agencies), Major League Baseball owners, various high-tech companies, politicians on the left and right politically, televangelists, Time Magazine columnists, and many, many others -- variations viewed at least 40 million times.
  • Had presentation go viral on YouTube, in email and elsewhere.
  • Had presentation go semi-viral in the education blogosphere.
  • Posted PowerPoint presentation on my blog to continue the conversation.
  • Was inspired by many in my learning network, so created a PowerPoint presentation to start a conversation among the teachers in my school.
  • Attended some great conferences and learned from folks, many of whom were in my learning network.
  • Had some great staff development conversations as a result of that learning network.
  • Created my own personal learning network, both online and off.
  • Started a blog to complement our staff development efforts.
  • Started reading lots of blogs by following the links in that one blog.
  • Started reading one blog.
  • Read an article about a teacher that was blogging.
Now, the point of all this (and there is a point) is not to say how wonderful the presentation is or how great I am (this story is not about me, I just happen to be the one that gets to tell it). The point is that this PowerPoint ended up being an example of itself. If a simple little PowerPoint -- some folks would say simplistic, and they'd be right (it was supposed to be the start of a conversation, not the entire conversation) -- can start at least 40 million conversations around the world, then we live in a fundamentally different world than the one I (and most of you reading this) grew up in.

I know some folks would dispute that, and that's an interesting conversation in and of itself, but if you buy that -- if you buy that, on so many levels, the world is a fundamentally different place -- then it just begs us to ask the question of whether schools have similarly transformed from when we grew up. If your answer to that question is no, as I think it probably is for a large majority of you, and if you see a problem with that, then what should we do?

So much of the current debate around education is only touching the surface of these issues. I hope to use my contributions to Huffington Post Education to explore these shifts further.

With you.


Please join me.

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