Presentation at DET/CHE 2011 on social media for professional growth

Quick links: DET/CHE 2011 prezi and associated resources

Last year, Kevin Kelly (SFSU), Otto Khera (USC), Derek Bruff (Vanderbilt), and I presented at DET/CHE 2010 on the big picture gap related to rapid cultural change, especially exemplified by social media, vs. slow educational change.

At DET/CHE 2011 I’m doing a brief session (prezi here) in which I hope to focus more on DET/CHE members as individuals and what we can do with social media to help close some of the gaps in our own minds/practices.

Much as I would like this to be an exhortation to learn to use the tools/ride the torrent sip from the firehose, rather I hope it is more an enticing invitation to join a party.

“connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks.” – Stephen Downes

The work of constructing and traversing learning networks is not incidental to DET/CHE members’ professional lives. Our understanding of how and why to cultivate learning networks is critical to our position at the juncture of technology, learning, people development, and strategic leadership. Learning how to (a) build and use such networks for our own growth will help us in turn to (b) thoughtfully approach the development of learning networks for staff and faculty locally, which will help us to (c) provide leadership in working with faculty, staff, and students in networked learning environments.

Which comes first, constructing or traversing? You can traverse without constructing, but lurking/legitimate peripheral participation will only take you so far. Jump in and push past the “I don’t get it, this just seems lame” phase. Use established tools at first – don’t make your first forays into building personal learning networks be in an environment that people are still figuring out (beware Google social networking attempts, snazzy SecondLife-type things, walled garden nings and so on …).

See this google doc for a number of great resources on how-to and why-to for educators using Twitter and, to a much lesser extent, Facebook.


On teaching/learning in the network age

Alec Couros’ talk on teaching & learning in the network age ( covers a lot of ground regarding tools and concepts underlying the cultural impact of the emergence of social media. I don’t think I have a problem with any of his major points. My sense of his audience at the conference is that they were very receptive – educators who are interested in technology and innovation. Unfortunately, I think many typical educators would be a bit lost in this talk.

A recent piece in the NYT on “What will schools look like in 10 years?” ( featured five “experts” and none of them spoke specifically about social media. Their focus was primarily on content and subject areas. As long as education is driven by outdated (IMO) paradigms based on scarcity of information resources and expertise, and assessment/accountability regimens designed for those paradigms, all the cool tools will have minimal impact on our systems. My fear is that our education systems are so completely intertwined with those non-network paradigms that evolution simply won’t happen. What would a new paradigm look like?

Differences between Instruction Paradigm and Learning ParadigmNote the citation: this is from 1995. Still waiting … and the tools perhaps provoke some to think more about this shift … but pedagogy first!

Dear reader, if you are a teacher, have you made this shift, or are you in the midst of it? What helped you? What made it difficult?