I wrote a post on my blog this weekend.
Nothing too unusual about that – for me. I also attended a Professional Development day earlier in the week along with about 140 other educators from at least four local schools. We were there attending a great day with Mark Treadwell, traveling scholar, author and education consultant for the New Zealand education system. Mark is an acknowledged expert in the field of 21st Century Learning, brain research and curriculum design and therefore had a lot to offer us regular educators sitting there soaking in his message. He challenged us with plenty of thought provoking information – and many people were ready to apply his words to their practice, quoting his work as a form of pedagogical gospel.
Now I really, really liked what Treadwell had to say. In fact, it was the second time I’ve heard him speak. But unlike the vast, vast majority of his Monday audience, I don’t have to accept his words as total, unchangeable gospel just because he is in the well-known role of expert. Because I am an online educator, because I am connected, I am “Googleable”, because I have a PLN (Professional/Personal Learning Network) I have advantages over many of my colleagues. I can pose half formed thoughts around one of his propositions in written form, share them in a public forum (like this blog) and gain valuable pushback from colleagues all around the world. I get to filter my initial ideas back through my network to moderate, balance and mould an emerging viewpoint that may differ to the advice offered by the expert.
I’m not discounting the role of the expert. We need them. But through the use of a PLN, a self selected collection of colleagues in various systems, sectors, countries, stages of career using a selection of social media tools (blogs, wikis, twitter, podcasts, videos, bookmarking) can offer me greater counsel in tapping into the collective wisdom of many, many experts. After all, we all have expertise. and we have something that many experts don’t have (or only have a second hand experience of) and that is grassroots experience. That is the grey area where the expert’s boundaries intersect with our experience. It is true that we need critical skills to make this work in the “publish then filter” era but technology can be utilised knowingly to filter any ideas around education and learning.
No one person holds the key to learning success – not any more and for me, that is the true shift of the new Internet Based Education Paradigm that Mark referred to on Monday.
Image: Sue Waters http://aquaculturepda.edublogs.org/files/2008/12/plntool.jpg