1: I'm new to the Twitter business. I, too, used to think it was all about pictures of your governor's breakfast. Yeah, it's not. Or, it doesn't have to be. I started participating because I realized, after EduCon 2.2, that the conversation about how technology is used in educational practice is happening online. Educators share resources/best practices amongst members of their professional learning network, which is made up of a collection of people they may or may not have ever met in person. I originally though the idea of the PLN was silly - such a formal name for a bunch of people who just talk to each other on Twitter! - but then I started following these conversations and realized how much there is to learn from people who are doing this.
1.5: But these networks also have the potential to reinforce their own kind of thinking. For example: Will Richardson recently moderated an online conversation with the authors of Rethinking Education in an Era of Technology, which brought together 100 educators in Elluminate. The conversation was kind of interesting, but it began to feel like an echo chamber to me. In general, it seems that the educators who have cultivated personal learning networks for themselves and spend an hour on a Monday night talking about education all believe similar things. Those things sound like school is now only one node in our kids learning (David Jakes) and It's AMAZING to me how FAR BEHIND these people are (with) edtech! (Kevin Jarrett, referring to a tech department that restricts access to technology). I agree with those things too, but it seemed like everyone did.
2: This is funny, because a huge thing happened this weekend that no one in my network seemed to be talking about. The MacArthur Foundation has transformed the landscape of this field with its Digital Media and Learning initiatives and grant-making - so much work has been made possible with MacArthur money that its influence is alarming to me - and it held a conference in La Jolla to discuss "diversifying participation." The program looked fantastic, and the issues being raised on Twitter (#dml2010) were compelling: equity, race, class, access, language, youth media, etc. But this, too, sounded like an echo chamber of a different composition: instead of practicing teachers, it sounded like academics and grad students. Just like the Will Richardson celebrities of the PLN world, Henry Jenkins and Katie Salen and James Paul Gee seem to lead conversation about theory. (To be fair, Salen just opened a public school in New York City - MacArthur-funded, in part.)
3. So this is unfortunate. It's important for teachers to think about digital media in the context that the DML conference proposed, but it's equally important that attendees of the DML conference do not walk away with the impression that they are the only ones who are thinking about the impact of games in the classroom. They're not. One tweet at the end of the conference came from a participant who said both keynotes discuss informal practices w/new media. Why aren't we dragging schooling (kicking & screaming) into the conversation? I mean, that question is predicated on the false assumption that schools don't want to be there or that educators are ignorant of the possibilities. Clearly (see 1.5), they're not. I'm just wondering how theory and practice can converge in a forum that doesn't look like Elluminate or La Jolla.