There is little I find more annoying than being lectured to by people who have all the answers, but do not engage in (rational) discussion on the subject.
For example, a deputy headteacher once informed me that his school was going to spend thousands of pounds on instruction technology known as “integrated learning systems”, and that they were going to get the least able students to work on them all day.
I told him that some recent research said that the benefits of such systems was short-lived if all you did was use them and nothing else, and that such intensive use of them was counter-productive anyway. This had no impact at all, because he’d read an article about them somewhere and thought they were wonderful as a result. I didn’t mind his disagreeing with me, but the fact that he did so without even considering an alternative point of view (and one which was more evidence-based than the one article he’d read).
I also become frustrated by people who bemoan the way things are, but do nothing about changing them. For example, we had a really awful postal service once, about which everyone complained. But when I told people I was organising a petition about it, the only signatures which appeared were those of me and my mum! What happened to all the moaners? The next time someone raised the subject with me I told them to phone the Royal Mail.
Fortunately, these days if you wish to try to change things, or even if you “only” want to exchange views with others, there are easily-accessible ways in which to do so. I think everyone involved in the teaching of ICT should contribute in at least one of the following eight ways:
Sign up to Twitter
… if you haven’t already. Twitter is a good way of finding out what’s going on in your field. Start by following a few people who are active, and then follow the people who follow them. People who come to mind immediately are Shelly Terrell, Doug Woods, Julia Skinner, Susan Bannister, Tony Parkin, Neil Adam and Drew Buddie. Oh yes, and me! Sorry for leaving out a load of people, but you’ll come across them anyway if you follow that lot!
Follow discussions on Twitter
... And contribute to them if you can, for example the #edtech thread (search for #edtech in Twitter). More formalised discussion groups include #ukedchat.
Comment on people’s blogs
Do try to leave comments which move the discussion on rather than “great post” or “”You’re wrong”.
Start your own blog
… And keep it reasonably up-to-date, even if you can manage only once a week. Use it to share thoughts, websites or applications you’ve come across, how a project is progressing – in other words, things that others will find useful.
Contribute to discussion forums
Contribute to Government consultations
Even if you think that your contribution won’t even be read (which I think is a cynical and mistaken view), you should still contribute. We never want to get to the point where some bean counter in Whitehall, Congress or the equivalent in your country says that, judging by the average number of responses to such consultations, it is not cost-effective to administer them.
Start a newsletter or e-bulletin…
These can be an effective way of sharing information, but be warned: it’s a lot of work (I speak from experience!).
… Or contribute to Computers in Classrooms
Computers in Classrooms goes out to thousands of people with a professional interest in technology in education, and is open to contributions. If you’d like to contribute, but are not sure how, read 50 Ways to contribute to a website.
Of course, you could make yourself even more unpopular by contributing to discussions than by not contributing to any, but that’s another story!
Why not subscribe to Computers in Classrooms, the free e-newsletter for people with a professional interest in educational ICT? I’m working on the next one now, and it’s going to be a really good read! More information soon. Oh, and it’s free by the way.