The Strength of Weak Ties

Everyone participates. Everyone contributes. Leveraging the power of digital networks to connect people, resources and ideas to drive creativity and innovation forward...and actually accomplish something!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Pushback 101

Today I was walking through the halls of one of our schools when I was called into a classroom by one of my good friends who was about to start class with a group of seniors. He wanted to ask me if I had ever seen a video entitled something like Shift Happens, which he received via an email.

I just smiled.

So we watched it and preceded to launch into one of those serendipitous teachable moments with the kids that we educators just love. And it was an eye opener.

The topic drifted ultimately to technology as a teaching and learning tool, with me asking about their familiarity with Web 2.0 tools. Some had read blogs, a few had listened to some podcasts, and only a few new about wikis, one had seen

So I showed them my account to give an example of how networks can support learning. The first question was:

"Why would I ever want to share my bookmarks with anyone?"

That prompted a thorough exploration of the network feature of, links for you, etc. They stared blankly at me, not impressed.

Not surprised, I decided to really test the waters with a discussion of Wikipedia. And of course: "That's not reliable information" came the immediate response from several of the kids. It was automatic. Reflex. Stimulus-response. Pavlovian, whatever you want to call it, I then showed them the school's page on Wikipedia. Is this false? You're experts on this subject-you tell me. No comment.

Well, that morphed into a discussion about putting a student product on Wikipedia and letting the Wikipedia community mash it up so that it was better, and then having the student turn that it. And I was astounded. "We wouldn't want to do that because then the teacher wouldn't know about our perspectives."

We write for the teacher. We write for the refrigerator door.

What about writing for everyone? What about sharing and contributing? What about tapping into the potential of a network to learn from everyone and not just the single content source in the classroom. Nah, were good-what do I have to know-tell me.

I showed them my aggregator and the feeds I watched-I could have been speaking Latin.

Another teacher who has embraced technology has become discouraged because the kids complained about too much technology-why couldn't he just lecture?

Well, the answer to all of this is that the current way is too comfortable. It's too damn easy. They're just used to the way. It's what they've always known and done.

At 15, at 17 and at 18, already resistant to new things.

What have we done?


  • At 9:16 PM , Blogger James O'Hagan said...

    I see how a student in high school has given up with technology. My response is I have begun opening up aspects of the laptops that students wish to experiment. I had a student come to me the other day asking to get into the Terminal because he wanted to turn his Macbook into a "S"Macbook, using the hard drive level inside the laptop to move between multiple screens by giving his machine a little smack. I wasn't totally thrilled with the idea of him abusing his machine, but I had heard of this and thought... what the hey. This sixth grader really surprised me with his research skills and getting into the command line of the unix core.

    There is hope, Jakes.

  • At 6:35 AM , Blogger Jeff said...

    What have we done? We've taught the learning right out of them. It's not about learning. It's about a product. They are going to school to get a diploma. I need to do this, this, and that and then I get it. It's not about learning, about making yourself a better person, or even preparing yourself for the future. It's about receiving that piece of paper at the end of 13 years that says you were in school 13 years.

    You experiment with technology outside of school

    You hack up your myspace or facebook theme outside of school.

    You "Play" games outside of school.

    School is what you do, we have taught the learning right out of them.

    It's sick really.


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