Wednesday, September 02, 2009

From the PLN: Teachers Speaking out on Social Media

A number of readers wrote back concerning our recent discussion of PLNs and social tech for professional development.

Reader Shaken writes:
I'm a new teacher (just into my second year) and have found the three months using a PLN of more value than my entire time at Uni. To have the knowledge, expertise, experience, ideas and thoughts of innovative educators at my fingertips is incredible. I am learning so quickly and have now found myself teaching my colleagues.

Reader Mel writes:
I'm currently trying to change my PLN behaviour.

For years I've been a lurker. I've read edublogs, been on Ning and been following my twitter feed. Now I'm attempting to be apart of the voice out there and I think what you're saying here is a big part of that but in reverse.

I've been following others but not giving of myself and is that fair either, no. I have something to contribute to help the network work better. Also, by doing so the network is making more of an impact on me.

Another reader commented on the changing nature of teaching itself in light of social media. Here's a particularly prescient selection from a well considered argument.

Reader Seth writes:
But there's another level to all of this that is worth thinking about: educating teachers to educate their students in public exposes the foibles of the students (directly) and of the teacher (at least indirectly, and sometimes directly) to public scrutiny. It's scary business. It requires some very real confidence in yourself as a person and as a teacher to be able to not know something in public -- or to correct a mistake in public.

For many teachers faced with social media, I think this is part of the very real threat that they feel: they are turning their classrooms open to (potentially judgmental) strangers -- and ceding centerstage, and ceasing to be the expert, but instead being a learner with their students.

It's big stuff, and technology is a symptom, and not the disease. In almost every case where we talk about technological issues, what we're getting at are fundamental questions of pedagogy and philosophy. The technology just exposes some of these more-buried issues.

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