Friday, July 3, 2009

Is it Time for us to Divide the Divide

The following are pretty much thoughts jumping out of my head and are somewhat all over the place or at least I feel they are. But I also felt the need to get them out to maybe make space for a better organization of the other things going thru my head.

As I sit reflecting on my latest NECC trip in 2009, I am somewhat worried about where we are as a group of educational technology professionals and where we are going. After sitting in a couple of different sessions, on different days I began to notice that, while there were some very ardent and enthusiastic individuals in the room who obviously fully embrace the technology, there were also some people with that glazed over look that screamed “WHAT ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT?”

In a discussion with a couple of the people from Australia, they were amazed at the politeness of the people at NECC. When attendees come into the room, they sit quietly and listen, get up and leave. Mostly no questions, no pushback, no anything. When I asked about the procedure in Australia, the response was “I had better be ready for at least three or four folks to question and push and argue from the very beginning and that I had better know my stuff thru and thru.”
My fear is that the digital divide among the adults, the teachers, is growing by leaps and bounds. What has resulted in the Twitterverse is that here have been many micro discussions about how to make a difference with those who may be lagging behind. Is it possible to make a difference and close the gap? Is it possible to take the 5-10% estimate of who may get it and close down the gap of the 90-95% that may not get it?

What exactly is it that they don’t get? What is it, about what I see a lot of people do and what I am trying to learn to do better each day, that they do not get? What do they need to know exactly? Is it that the term 21st Century skills are no different than maybe the day to day skills that each and every student AND teacher needs to function, communicate and use to achieve something in this world? Are they looking for how to make the next viral video? Are they wanting to know what the tools are all about? Is it that we are to merely point them to the “edublogosphere’s guru/leader and say read this and leave them alone?

There is no magic potion at least not one that will magically get you your 10,000 hours quickly. We also will not find what we do on the vendor floor. But I do know that if I were to treat any of my students this way, in my school I would no longer have a job. I am so far from having any of the answers and more often than not I sit and watch and listen and try to learn because I feel what I may have to offer is old hat or that I don’t have enough to offer.

But I will offer this out there to anyone who wants or needs it - if you have questions, or if you want to know something, if you don’t understand something, please do not hesitate to contact me either by Twitter(@paulrwood) or by email (paulwood[at]swbell[dot]net and the reason it is that way is so that the farming/harvesting bots can’t pick it up as easily to spam me). I will do whatever I can to answer any questions, direct you to someone who can and the only thing I ask you to do in return is to help someone else. But please understand YOU have a responsibility as well – YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING TO ASK. If you don’t ask me, ask someone else, reach out, share, because we are all here to learn. This is not some elite circle but you do need to be willing to participate. If you are on Twitter, please fill out your profile and if you have a blog/website, list it so that we can see who we are talking to and what you do. If you want to follow me don’t protect your updates as I will not ask to follow you back.

By ourselves we will never make it, together we are so much better.