4 Responses

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  1. Michele Martin April 28, 2008 at 8:05 am |

    Thanks for picking up on this thread, Britt, and demonstrating how you’re struggling with the issue yourself.

    I think you’re right to wonder if administrators who blog will be representative of administrators as a whole. I suspect not. I also suspect that they will be far more open to change (although I could be wrong) than administrators who are not online, which might give you and your students a somewhat skewed sense of the challenges administrators think they face in implementing changes.

    This issue of getting to the people who aren’t online is something I’m thinking more about. I saw that Darren Draper was posing questions about why Open PD wasn’t being adopted more widely, but of course these questions were being answered by an online community who could only guess at what is holding back their off-line peers.

    I’m also very aware of this because of work that I’m doing with some African-American students right now who are relatively clueless about social media (other than YouTube and MySpace) and have little idea of how these tools could be used to mobilize for action or for advocacy–two key areas that I think could create phenomenal change.

    Definitely a lot to think about. . .

  2. Pat April 28, 2008 at 8:15 am |

    To me, blogs are a great source of information because they come from personal experiences. Many times there is a great divide from the “book” learning and what actually happens in the classroom. I have learned a lot more from someone who is in the trenches than from textbooks.

  3. Scott Quarforth April 29, 2008 at 8:45 am |

    I read this entry and was immediately intrigued by the dialogs that are created around what constitutes “truth” within the Web 2.0 world, more specifically blogs.

    My immediate reaction is to argue why this is NOT considered truth, what educational philosophers may refer to as “little-t truth”. This is the truth based on the evidence and circumstances that are presented at that time for that blogger or administrator. Now, you can then argue, with validity, the generalizability of the blog entry, hence the absence of “Big-T truth”. Therefore, you take a collection of blogs and search for a common thread present. Why can’t you then start to see this/these theme(s) as “truth”.

    Pat made an excellent point in reference to the connection of theory and practice. We now have a unique and potentially rich link, yet others want to invalidate the information presented in the blogs as “not academic”.

    I echo Michele’s last statement, “Definitely a lot to think about.”

  4. John M October 31, 2008 at 2:28 pm |

    This is one of the most refreshing online articles I’ve read in a LONG time! Thanks! (I came across it in my search for the actual text of the Lincoln quote…)

    I believe that we have entered the most self-absorbed time in history. We no longer have to engage with people having opinons that differ from our own. We can actively choose to stay within the world of ideas that feeds our comfort. Worse, when we do encounter contrary opinions, rather than engage in civil discourse, there is a reflex to scream ad-hominem attacks.

    This loss of reason frightens me. I worked for many years as a Technical Writer, in which my purpose was to uncover facts and present them so that diverse audiences could quickly and easily access the material they needed and could put to effective use. I see this as one of the last refuges of rational thinking in non-academic locales, but I have concerns about academia as well, where lax thinking is becoming more prevalent.

    I assert this from observations of personal experience; this is not a scientific study. But it brings to mind an attempt I made to explain to a high school student how “casual rationality” works.

    He was asking me to cite every statement I made, and validate every assertion. I reached a point where I had to explain that, at my advancing age, I cannot possibly recall the precise source of things I know, let alone the author or the exact wording. Most of the stuff I’ve been exposed to, I’ve had to summarize, extrapolate, and make inferences from.

    I described to him the ways that I use “facts” and “confidence”. Certain things I absolutely know: 2 + 2 will always equal 4, even if I’m upsidedown on the moon. The value of Pi? 3.14 is “good enough” for most of my needs. The amount of gold on Earth? I don’t know, but I could make a “good guess.” I would have to derive it from other known facts, each introducing further uncertainty, but with the assumptions clearly presented, a number could be given. However, the accuracy would also have to be assessed. So, I research the weight of gold and the estimated weight of the planet, find some figures that estimate the percentage of gold among the other elements (in the Earth’s crust, or in its core as well?), I could interpolate. But how sure am I of that answer.

    I could be 100% sure that my estimate is “off” by about 50%. Or I could be 50% sure that my estimate is completely wrong.

    For each “fact”, I associate how confident I am that its information is reliable. I’m 100% sure about 2 +2, 100% sure about Pi, but I wouldn’t be too confident about the gold.

    So, the “aspects” I use to manage my internal datastore are:
    – unambiguous statements
    – a measure of accuracy of the statement
    – a list of assumptions and assertions upon which the accuracy depends
    – a measure of confidence in the statement and its accuracy.

    I was pleased to see that your student challenged the scope of the audience, and that you re-evaluated the assignment. Both of you were exercising care and qualifying the validity of the thoughts, and being careful to not assert as fact things that were questionable.

    So, more than your discussion about the relevance of the assignment, you demonstrated in practice the very lesson that needed to be learned.

    Very elegant!

    I enjoyed it, and wanted to share that with you.

    Best regards,

    BTW, I love the quote in your banner!

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