Friday, December 4, 2009

So what line of work are you in then?

Do you have the same problem as I have when people ask what you work with? Explaining distance learning can be hard enough since a lot of people have no idea it exists but how do you start explaining social media and how they can be relevant for education? It can be quite a shock to the system to meet people who have no idea of what you're talking about. How do you get the message across clearly, briefly and without frightening them away?

I had such an experience today and I fear that in my enthusiasm to enlight I just succeeded in confusing. Most people still see the classroom as the model for all education and the net as, at best, a source of entertainment. The connection between the two is unclear. Many such people are teachers, working hard and teaching well in most cases. But the potential of the net for accessing knowledge and connecting with others hasn't become apparent to them. How to start explaining?

Then I saw an excellent blog post by Shelly Terrell called Most teachers don't live there which provides a convincing and positive set of arguments for teachers who are doubtful of the value of the net in education. If we are educators shouldn't we participate in discussions with our colleagues around the world? Shouldn't we compare our own work with others and learn from each other? Shouldn't we help students use the net responsibly? To do this we need to be out there reading and writing blogs, participating in forums and sharing our knowledge.

"Technology is not the enemy and ignorance is not bliss. If we don’t show students how to use social media and technology, then we cannot complain when they use this in unhealthy ways."


  1. Alastair,

    Thank you for sharing this with your readers.

    I can relate with your experience in explaining distance learning. I do believe face-to-face is still important but many countries do not have access to this kind of learning or means of professional development. In many poor countries, most of the teachers would never be able to get training from a professional unless they spent thousands to fly to a conference. Now, many conferences have live streaming and many professionals give free webinars where teachers can ask the professional a question. On Twitter, I get to speak and debate with the authors I researched in my Master's classes! Distance learning is incredible and aren't we fortunate to be part of the adventure!

  2. Exactly. I'll follow your blog with interest.