Today is my first day back to work since August. I've been away to help our sons settle in the US, work on other family affairs, and to attend to some health issues. During that time I pretty much stayed away from blogging, reading blogs, or keeping up much on anything at all.
About ten days ago I started reading again, and was daunted by the nearly 7500 unread posts in Bloglines, plus hundreds and hundreds of email bulletins and notifications from networks and wikis I'm a part of. I felt a little numb and overwhelmed during the first 500 or so, but I began to see the trends and, stepping back, saw the emerging higher level patterns (á la one of my favorite books).
So here, in flagrant disregard for scientific data collection and analysis, is my summary of the key edublog topics that I was missing over the last six months, roughly in order of frequency, word count, or heft:
- Buzz around big edutech conferences, where articulate keynote speakers cast visions, inspire, and challenge us to change the world. This buzz then fans out into auxilary visions for overhauling schools, but not enough, in my opinion, about deschooling.
- (In a near tie with #1) Frustration over how unchanged the world is right now: fellow teachers, school technicians, administrators, board members, parents, whoever, who still don't get it.
- Good news about students who get it: transformed classrooms full of self-directed, project-based, web 2.0 savvy teacher-facilitated lifelong learners. Bring it on!
- The latest thing. In this case, Ning, Twitter, Voicethread, XO and "flat" everything.
- Good news about fellow teachers, administrators, superintendents, board members, parents, who get it, becoming transformed into facilitators, enablers, coaches, and catalysts. May their tribe increase!
- (In a distant last place) Good stories about learning that aren't focused on the technology.
After 6 months of not reading, and then super intense scanning (slowing down many, many times to read more closely), I've seen the Pareto principle at work: 80% of the good stuff can be found in 20% of the blogs. A lot of the rest is echo.
The posts I find myself slowing down for are those by people I've had personal (albeit digital) contact with, and those who say something unique. That has helped me clarify to myself why I blog, and I'd encourage others to think more about their own unique contribution. Along similar lines Terry Freedman had an interesting post about how fewer readers, not more, can help a blogger keep focus.
In spite of a lot of the grousing I've read, I have to say that change is happening out there. Up close, blog post by blog post, the change seems almost imperceptible sometimes, but stepping back, I could see that more and more people are experimenting and reflecting. Even though the technology per se is in focus maybe more than I'd wish, more practitioners are thinking more about teaching and learning, examining themselves, and letting go of preconceptions.
Remember that in the open sea, a tsunami is barely perceptible, yet full of tremendous power that is finally realized when it reaches the shore.
The photo is of my office when I arrived today. My desk will probably never be this clean again.