Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Isolation of Educators

I posted a few weeks ago about the Isolation of Adolescence and it got me thinking about the Isolation of Education. A recent post on Remote Access talked about the nature of networks in teaching. Are Ideas Contagious diagrams the potential of relationships in learning. The concept is great, but I worry that the reality doesn't get there.

I have been a guest in different educational venues and I hear "We can't access that site here" We protect our kids so much, and protect our systems from kids so much that we prevent educators from effectively doing their jobs. I know there is not only the possibility of abuse when social networking sites are accessible at school, but the reality of it. People waste time kidnap'n each other or check their lil'green patches, but they also interact with each other.

Last week I needed a quick answer to a question, one I undoubtedly could have found online or in the helps, but I was training and I wanted to keep my mobility up. Out came the cell phone, up went the tweet for help. @gardenglen came to the rescue and within 10 seconds I had the answer from an experienced Audacity User on how to remove static and clicks from a section of audio.

When I was still in the classroom, my fear of fallout from other teachers, administrators, parents and even students kept me off the social networking scene, off of blogs, off of youtube, and blinkered when it came to the true potential of my own learning and development and what I could catalyze in my students fellow learners. I went into my classroom, and I used all the resources contained in my own personal skill set and experience and I was a good teacher. I could have been so much better, but I was isolated. I never really collaborated with the teachers around me in my school, I never really collaborated with job-a-like teachers, I fell short of where I could have been. What regrets.

I see now the power that Personal Learning Networks could have created for me, and for my students. I see now the power that Social Networking could have created in my classroom. Tools. They are all tools. The isolation could have given way to genuine relationships that supported me and my students in their pursuit of learning. Some still wouldn't have learned, some will always choose the easy path, but so many will come with us. We need to open the doors of our classrooms, and invite in the our friends to help us to collaborate with us, to teach us and to learn from us. Open the doors.

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