A blog is about reflection, increasing the level of transparency for the blogger. By externalizing his/her understanding, he is able to see the flaws in his thinking, to come to a better understanding of what is believed or not. I was reflecting on some positive comments made in past conversations and juxtaposing those with some of my crazier writings. I had quite a laugh…and some of my writing is for fun as I explore an idea or perspective.
Structured opportunities for reflection can enable learners to examine and form their beliefs, values, opinions, assumptions, judgments and practices related to an action or experience, gain a deeper understanding of them and construct their own meaning and significance for future actions (Moon 1999). Reflection “facilitates the student’s making connections between their service and their learning experience” and indeed the hyphen in the phrase “service-learning” can has been interpreted as representing this connection (Eyler and Giles 1999).
(Source: Marshall University Service Learning)
The blog tracks my journey through my mind, through foolish, as well as wise ideas…it is also a record of my learning. A snapshot of what I’m experiencing. Most people are content to keep their mouths shut and suffer paranoia, fear, anxiety and all the other negative emotions that result when working…well, anywhere.
The fact is that by digging those emotions out, dragging them into the light of day, a blogger can transform them into wisdom-generating experiences that provide balance and stability. Blogging helps you ensure that appearance is closer to the reality.
For educators, the invitation is to join the ranks of professionals who reflect on their work and share what they learn with others. That is the invitation I share with teachers when I meet with them. To that end, it’s worth revisiting some research:
- Blogging promotes critical literacy skills, including reading, writing, self-expression, reflection and creativity (Huffaker, 2004).
- Written reflection…is an effective method of thinking about practice. Blogs are especially effective at supporting…reflection…more so than other technologies would be.”
- Reflection is important since expert teachers engage in continuous reflection about the effectiveness of their work
- Blogs enable teachers to establish communities of practice that support one another’s work. This kind of collaborative interaction among peers can promote enhanced understanding of complex situations
- Blogs allow for individual expression and ownership, even as they promote collaboration between educators.
- Change was internal in origin with the most important factor being teacher reflection on instructional practices.
- Technology served as a catalyst for change in only one teacher out of three they studied, a teacher who was already dissatisfied with her existing set of instructional practices.
- When professional development presents technology within the context of student-centered instructional practices, teachers will be more likely to change their instructional practices with their use of technology.
And, if you’re curious about the impact of blogging on students, why not take a look at some of Silvia’s work at Langwitches? Here’s a video from that blog entry you may want to reflect on:
Some of the discussion centers around the idea that the blogosphere is TOO ed-tech and this may turn off regular educators. I’m reminded of an epiphany I had a few years ago. I was running around trying to integrate technology into every content area, spreading my team a bit too thin over too many curriculum areas. As hard as we’d try to be a part of the conversation, we were always locked out, excluded, etc.
While change needs to be accomplished at the school and community level, the ed-tech blogosphere seems to be more about individual triumphs with/over technology. In an increasingly connected world, bringing about change in the community has to be the real battle.
Fullan writes that social systems include a great deal of inertia. To change direction, two forces have to be applied–pressure and support. Pressure is defined as having ambitious targets, transparent evaluation, and monitoring, while support involves developing new competencies, increased access to new ideas, and more time for learning and collaboration.
Everyone in curriculum and instruction is distracted by the high stakes testing. There is an over-emphasis on pressure and little time for support. When enough people change, the system changes. If we can help other educators learn to use technology, to be creative, collaborative and communicative with it, then the system will change.
However, I wonder if this isn’t a “The Matrix” situation. As individuals wake up to reality and choose to swallow the red pill, there first reaction isn’t to change the system and improve it. Rather, it is to disconnect from it, to be repulsed by what they have been a part of. It’s not enough to change individually…you have to change the system. The problem is, short of a doctorate in educational leadership, how do you help teachers change that system while simultaneously changing themselves?
The question then is not about pills, but what they stand for in these circumstances. The question is asking us whether reality, truth, is worth pursuing. The blue pill will leave us as we are, in a life consisting of habit, of things we believe we know. We are comfortable, we do not need truth to live. The blue pill symbolizes commuting to work every day, or brushing your teeth.
The red pill is an unknown quantity. We are told that it can help us to find the truth. We don’t know what that truth is, or even that the pill will help us to find it. The red pill symbolises risk, doubt and questioning. In order to answer the question, you can gamble your whole life and world on a reality you have never experienced.
However, in order to investigate which course of action to take we need to investigate why the choice is faced. Why should we even have to decide whether to pursue truth?
The answer in short, is inquisitiveness. Many people throughout human existence have questioned and enquired. Most of them have not been scientists or doctors or philosophers, but simply ordinary people asking ‘what if?’ or ‘why?’ Asking these questions ultimately leads us to a choice. Do you continue to ask and investigate, or do you stop and never ask again?
For learners, the question is simple. You continue to ask and investigate. For teachers, the system reinforces the response, “stop and never ask again.” As cited in Fullan…Elmore writes:
Improvement is more of a function of learning to do the right things in the settings you work. The problem is that there is almost no opportunity for teachers to engage in continuous and sustained learning about their practice in the settings in which they actually work, observing and being observed by their colleagues in their own classrooms and classrooms of other teachers in other schools confronting similar problems of practice. This disconnect between the requirements of learning to teach well and the structure of teachers’ work life is fatal to any sustained process of instructional improvement.
This seems so obvious. For those who blog, twitter, it is possible to engage in continuous and sustained learning. But energy is expended, energy that could be used for other purposes. For those educators that are NOT committed to continuous and sustained learning there is no hope to bridge the disconnect. For those educators, work as an educator is fatal to their ability to learn.
The role of the ed-tech bloggers is to find those who are ready to make the choice, and like Morpheus in The Matrix, facilitate the choice. Maybe, this IS more about salvation than I thought.
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