Community Building

Will Richardson:

Our continued emphasis on tools in pd misses that larger point, obviously, because the power of the Read/Write web is not the ability to publish; it’s the ability to connect. Broken record, I know, but tools are easy; connections are hard. And so the question becomes how to best help educators realize these potentials in the learning sense first. Because at the end of the day, community building has to become an integral part of what we do in our classrooms with our students, as well. We have to be able to model those connections for them and understand them in ways that are meaningful to our own learning practice.

The challenge is, of course, that “continual, collaborative, on the job” learning isn’t very convenient for professional developers or for teachers in classrooms. It means re-thinking what learning looks like, and that’s a scary place still for most in education.

Now that's what I'm talking about.

In my recent on- and off-line discussions about the role of a Social Media Specialist in our schools, I've had in my mind the requirement that community building is an essential skill to be taught, modeled, and emphasized in our schools. That technology and social media are tools to achieve this end has merely been implied.

Clearly, Will is correct in his articulation of the challenge that comes with community building. Potential for and processes of learning have changed and some of the good news is that many teachers, educational leaders, and even policy makers are beginning to understand this fact (at least I know that many in our still infantile district have a very good hold on what it means to learn in the 21st Century). Nonetheless, other challenges still exist - and getting it all done the way it should be done is simply not as simple as some might hope it to be.

With this understanding in mind, I've spent a tremendous amount of time and energy in my attempts to create - with other key leaders in my district - the ideal technology support structure for teachers and students in our district. When we've finished, I'll share what we've created with you, with hopes that you'll pick apart what we've done and freely offer your suggestions for improvement. After all, aren't we all in this together?

Quick update: Karl Fisch (still) rocks! He's taken the time to archive our social media specialist conversation here. Thanks Karl!

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