Is the Internet a mass of content or a mass of connections
I want to respond quickly and say that it’s a mass of connected content, but I think that the content remains disconnected without its users. So the users are the key players in the game and they are the mass of importance. So, if the internet is a mass of connections what can we do with it?
Reading Will Richardson’s World Without Walls: Learning Well with Others I think about how our jobs as educators are changing. No, they have already changed (just some are taking their time with the transition). If my job started out with the purpose of teaching the core standards of maths to teenagers, it very quickly morphed into something more like “Opportunity Maker” with a splash and a hint of mathematical focus. OK, massive oversimplification but Richardson was right back in 2008 and he is still right. I don’t always need to directly teach pages and pages of content to my students. I need to allow for moments of connected learning, where students are engaging in my topic with experts and learners from all over the world.
I started maths blogs with my 9th graders this year and so far it’s been a mostly one way process of individual reflection for each of them. To harness the mass of connections I need to help my students take a leap and get their blogs out there and connected to others. We have already signed up with Mathlete Blogs which is great, but we haven’t created a habit of posting or commenting yet. Jeff Utecht talks about lurking in his book Reach and I think that my students and I are certainly just lurking at the moment. We are watching and learning but we need to be more active to help the community grow and for us to learn too.
For my own professional growth I can see how I need to harness the mass of connections and put myself out there. This is certainly not the first blog that I have created but it is sure to be my most active. It is time to stop lurking behind the screen (does that mean no more facebook stalking?) and put my thoughts and ideas into words, open myself up to discussions, new ideas and potential criticisms.
It’s funny, I tell my students to be risk-takers everyday and not to be worried about making mistakes or voicing their opinions. Time to take my own advice.