Friday, October 02, 2009

Paperless Friday: On Ideas and Boxes


It's Paperless Friday! And I'm thinking about ideas and boxes.

My paperless story for the day: I was asked by the dept at my ed school to turn in a Word Doc copy of the syllabus for my paperless social tech in ed class.

Problem is: I don't have a static syllabus -- I keep all of the class info/assignments/procedures/etc on a wiki that winds up being pretty fluid.

Not fluid in the sense that I change dates, procedures, and other vitals... but rather in that specific readings and the specifics about assignments are always changing and adapting to what is occurring in the social media ed landscape at large.

As I say to the students on day one: I can't honestly tell you that what's on the wiki for week eight is actually going to be there when we get there (because by the time we get there, we'll be in a 'different place' as well).

What I'm emphasizing is that helping students develop a 'way of thinking' is generally more important than whatever specific tool or skill might be next on the menu. And the 'ways of thinking' most effective in navigating the current landscapes are ways that make the most of the fluidity and dynamism inherent in the current media.

This fluidity is something that should be embraced. It's also something that points out the limited nature of static media -- whether paper syllabus or PowerPoint -- to handle fluidity.

Our way of looking at things is changing. If four years ago you would have told me that a syllabus might not be the best way to help keep my students and class organized, I might have told you that you were nuts. Not so much anymore.

We need to embrace technologies that best represent the way we think. For me, that means wikis over paper syllabi, blogs over paper essays, and Twitter and real-time search over email and databases.

Because my thinking is fluid, I need my media to be fluid. Because to take a dynamic idea and try to fit it into a static box, just seems like a great way to destroy both.


  1. I get what you are saying, but it sounds as if "I'm fluid and I go with the flow" is a bit of an excuse to not have a plan. It is perfectly okay to plan and adjust based on reflections of real time, but I don't think that is an excuse to poo-poo planning, and planning is not necessarily static. Not deviating from a plan regardless of events is.

  2. @My Musings, I get what you're saying, as well. But I don't think this post is about "an excuse to not have a plan." I think y'all are saying the same thing: plan, but let the plan be dynamic and alive, not dead.
    @A Faire Alchemist, I love the idea of "fluidity" in course "documents" (what a 20th-century static word that suddenly seems to be!) like syllabi. I've been trying to create some fluid learning materials for my Latin students and have been blogging about the process <a href=">here at the Joyful Latin Learning blog<a/a>. If you're still monitoring comments here, I'd love to know what you think about the project!
    gratias maximas antequam,


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