*dusts off The Technorate Teacher*
Thank you @nashworld for bringing me back out of my blogging shell…it’s been too long since I had a chance to stretch my fingers a bit
A short while ago, this tweet floated through my TweetDeck stream:
And there it began…the Great PLN Backlash of 2010…You had a good run there Personal Learning Network…but now, we must inevitably march on to some other “better” form of online learning.
The strange thing is, I totally get what he’s saying. While a learning network, be it personal, professional, online, offline, real, or imagined is an infinitely powerful tool…it’s still just that. A tool.
That’s one of those things where education tends to get very cloudy. Taking A tool and trying to turn it into THE tool. During my session at Middle Level Essentials, I shared a number of slides showing the “March of Technology Tools”. No doubt there were people throughout the last 50 years of education heralding one hardware or software tool after the other as THE tool which would “revolutionize” education.
The conversation continued on with tweets from @mbteach, @mattguthrie, and @jswiatek among others chiming in about the various benefits and issues with these networks, as well as the dangers of trying to make them required or giving them too much power. It seems to me, that almost inevitably, when we make anything in education a “required” practice there is more pushback than when someone comes to an idea out of casual conversation. I’ve witnessed it firsthand in discussions of fair grading practices, parent communication practices, etc. When these practices are imposed as “required” in the classroom, people lose sight of their merit.
I’m wondering if all the talk about how great it is to have a “PLN” is making it seem like required practice for many teachers. Matt then asked how you get the folks who are always late to the game or never get there to adopt good ideas. And there we are again, back at the idea that something is unequivocally “good” while other things are “not as good” or “bad”.
How have we wound up in this spot in education where we are constantly looking for THE silver bullet? Yes, A PLN or alternatively a NIHCTTAR (Network I Have Come to Trust and Respect) is a powerful tool for some. Attending “real” conferences with planned sessions and presenters is a powerful tool for some. Attending unconferences with conversations about reform are a powerful tool for some. And at the risk of having my technogeek card removed: Textbooks, tests, and lectures are a powerful tool for some.
I don’t want someone building my house with just a hammer…I don’t want a teacher with only a PLN teaching my kids…
Not sure I want my builder or teachers to lack those tools either…