Reaction 9: Professional Learning in a Digital World


Reading this week:

  • Education at Pinterest:
  • Bryk, A. S., Gomez, L. M. & Grunow, A. (2011) Getting Ideas into Action: Building Networked Improvement Communities in Education. In M. Hallinan (ed.) Frontiers in Sociology of Education. Springer Publishing.
  • Morris, A. K. & Hiebert, J. (2011) Creating Shared Instructional Products : An Alternative Approach to Improving Teaching. Educational Researcher 40 (5). 5-14.

I have to be honest: I’m not really sure what Morris and Hiebert were actually writing about. They used the word “products” 89 times, without ever giving an example. These “instructional products” are supposed to guide teaching, help students “achieve specified learning goals,” and improve “performance.” Performance of what? Learning goals decided by whom? They do give a nod to context, saying that “it makes sense to study standardized instructional treatments across variable settings, examining the data to learn about the effects of the contextual variables in the settings.” Continue reading “Reaction 9: Professional Learning in a Digital World”

Networked Scholars Course: Week 3 Reflection

Notes from Networked Scholars course this week. My thoughts at the end…

Zeynep Tufekci‘s article, Social Media is a Conversation, Not a Press Release: How @nytkeller and @emmagkeller flunk understanding @adamslisa:

  • How should it have been written? In one word: When trying to understand social media presence, dear journalists, don’t “peruse.” Engage. Because that’s how the medium works.
  • To understand these basic points Lisa Adams made, repeatedly, over the years, you’d have to be engaging her feed, and not just reading snippets of it and projecting it onto one’s own anxieties or issues.
  • If anything, social media has helped move us to a world in which people are no longer passive, silent subjects of journalists (or academics or other gatekeepers of public discourse). We can no longer speak of people at them, without them talking back of their own experience, and articulating their own narrative in their own terms. And how to deal with that reality, not whether cancer patients should tweet that much, is the real ethical question before us.

Sherry Turkle‘s TED talk about Alone Together:

  • We want to be in spaces together, but we only want to pay attention to the bits that interest us. I definitely see this is graduate school classes. In texting, we get to edit, delete, and retouch our voice, but real relationships are awkward and messy. A little later, “I share there for I am.” The more we connect the more isolated we are because we do not cultivate solitude. We need to teach our children to be alone.

“People who make the most of their lives on the screen, come to it in a spirit of self-reflection.”

  • Develop a self-aware relationship with our devices and others: make room for solitude.

Audrey Watters‘ keynote for C-Alt conference, Ed-Tech, Frankenstein’s Monsters, and Teacher Machines: Continue reading “Networked Scholars Course: Week 3 Reflection”

Reaction Paper #2: How People Learn & New Media

Readings for this week include the first chapter of How People Learn, by Bransford et al. 1999, and Living and Learning with New Media, by Ito et al. 2008.

(I’m just including my last paragraph, which I think was the most interesting.)

A lot of schools and teachers are threatened by this generation of seemingly empowered, engaged, technology-savvy youth with their “resilient set of questions about adult authority.” (Ito et al. 2008) Further, “our values and norms in education, literacy, and public participation are being challenged by a shifting landscape of media and communications in which youth are central actors. Although complaints about ‘kids these days’ have a familiar ring to them, the contemporary version is somewhat unusual in how strongly it equates generational identity with technology identity, an equation that is reinforced by telecommunications and digital media corporations that hope to capitalize on this close identification.” (Ito et al. 2008) I want to address this very last part: the corporations. All these interfaces, platforms, and services are run by corporations, whose goal is to make money. This capitalistic ethos is built into the web, our children’s playground, and the companies make money when you to come back. They provide dopamine hits by alerts of connections to friends, by the functions of affirmations (“Pokes” or “Likes”), and by presenting solvable problems (such as in games), which is far from true about dilemmas in the teenage world. They provide quantifiable measures of popularity or desirability, which might at first seem like a reflection of content, but it’s not a far leap to being a measure of worth: the most followers, friends, shares, or comments. All this engenders FOMO (fear of missing out) and drama, such as “unfollow me and I’ll unfollow you.” This, naturally, affects actual identity formation and the conception of what it means to be successful in life. I’m not a technological determinist, clinical psychologist, nor anti-capitalist, but as the interfaces becoming increasingly seemless and as a greater percentage of our learning and life is extended on these platforms, I get a little skittish. Like many generations before me, my guiding hope is in education.

Opinions in this last paragraph were influenced by It’s Complicated: The social lives of networked teens, by danah boyd, and by a critique written of the book by Michael Simon, reprinted with permission on ISTE’s Indenpendent School Educator Network’s blog.


I went on Facebook today. But not on impulse. Actually, I turned my computer on after the little one went to sleep and when I opened a new tab I saw the FB preview there… I resisted the urge until after I had done a couple things that I needed to do. I logged in and looked for pictures of a friend who just had a baby. I had 3 messages, so I read and replied, then I logged out. It feels good to have reconnected. I miss the people. And while it’s all well and good to say I should just make time to interact face to face, I don’t have the time or the flexibility in my schedule right now to do that.

This gets me to thinking about kids & Facebook (because it always comes back to kids). In their hyper-scheduled, overloaded worlds, they may not feel they have the time to hang out with friends face to face. Instead, they can do homework, watch a movie, Facebook chat with friends, catch up with statuses, and have a snack all at the same time, which is way more efficient. Maybe in order to help kids learn to disconnect, we need to give them back unstructured time, which adults could benefit from too.

Harder than I thought

So this month I’m not using Facebook. I find myself thinking of posts during the day, like “First trip to the gym with Alexander – he did great!” or “I ❤ Saturday mornings: gym, starbucks, breakfast, baby playtime”. I debated (and quickly decided against) tweeting my status. Since my twitter is primarily professional, I didn’t think the personal additions would be welcome. Also, I have a few friends I primarily connect with through messages on Facebook, so I am feeling cut off from them. Overall, I am feeling more alone and cut off than I expected to.

Already, this is revelatory to me in how we assume it’s no big deal for students to be asked to disconnect from social media during the school day. Presumably, adolescents are at the point in their lives where they are more focused on their peer relationships than I am, and, according to this NY Magazine article Why you never truly leave high school: “In adolescence, the brain is also buzzing with more dopamine activity than at any other time in the human life cycle, so everything an adolescent does—everything an adolescent feels—is just a little bit more intense.” While for me, it’s a mild sense of disconnection from friends, to my students, it could feel like the end of the world.

This short month might just feel pretty long, even to my post-adolescent brain!