Saturday, October 28, 2006

Riding a bubble and watching my back

So much has happened in the past two weeks I've not had time to stay even with regular work stuff, never mind write something here. There is a small break this afternoon. It's a beautiful fall afternoon in Seattle, but I need to write about this.

The bubble started forming when the Seattle Times ran an article about students blogging. Very nice, I had a couple of quotes. But then the story was mentioned on the blogs of David Warlick, Will Richardson, Wesley Fryer, and Andy Carvin. I was pleased, of course, a little embarrassed at all the attention. Now, it was a very nice article, but it really brought home to me how desperate the web 2.0 education community is for ANY kind of positive mention in the mainstream media. There has been more talk about Oprah as the key. Only kidding a little - maybe not at all.

So the bubble was launched. The day before I had offered a workshop on wikis for my colleagues at school, recorded it for a later podcast. A few days later I hosted a workshop for anybody in my district, on setting up a Classblogmeister blog. Also recorded for future podcast. Meanwhile I was getting excited about the upcoming K12Online Conference, and a little nervous about my presentation in it. I tried hosting a local Skypecast, and had some limited success.

Gaining altitude.... In the past week I've participated in three Elluminate sessions connected with the conference. These were incredibly exciting experiences, talking in real time with people from all over the world. What an incredible collection of brilliant and passionate people!

Dizzying heights now... My little conference presentation, and I DO mean little, especially when you look at what other presenters are cranking out, is released on Thursday. I'm starting to notice how thin the sides of this bubble really are, way up here... (does a bubble really have sides?)

This, for a third grade teacher, is a great ride. But it is scary. Sometimes I know I get carried away with my own success and start talking publicly with more boldness than I should, given my position. There are times I get so excited. I can't believe others are not "catching" whatever it is I've got. Then I get upset. Often I end up feeling impatient, resentful of the impediments to implementation. My presentation on Nov. 2 grew out of that frustration.

I feel danger out there. For whatever reasons, my colleagues and mentors in web 2.0 are not anywhere near here. I am grateful for each and every one of them, I truly am. But I feel very vulnerable.

When you request more open access to web 2.0 and the result is LOSS of access you used to have, and nobody says anything, you wonder. When you are talking loudly and excitedly (out of character to be sure, but I can't help it) about the greatest things you have ever seen - and everyone around you gets very quiet - you watch your back.

9 comments:

Doug Noon said...

This is interesting because I, too, was asked to do a little bit of presenting to the staff at my school, and now I seem to have "started something" that needs to be followed up. I haven't written about this yet because the whole thing is still rather up in the air (I can't resist using that pun! sorry.) and I don't quite know what to think now.

For the longest time I've been blogging to the void, in a way, connecting with people far from my local area. Now it's all getting closer, since I'm getting more active as a change agent in my school.

There is an interesting divergence of influence between the local and global in this education blogging activity. I took note of Stephen Downes' post in which he elaborated on the differences between networks and groups:....Groups meet our need to belong and to survive, while networks meet our need to connect and learn and to know....

What I'm hearing from you is helping me to understand something, and that maybe we are working on (at least) two different aspects of a situation as we negotiate the bridge building, and the team building.

Like I say, I don't understand this very well right now. But I sense that I may be going through a bit of the same thing you're describing here. This was helpful. Thanks.

Tom said...

Great blog Mark.

I am struggling with the right choice of words to comment so please know I am sympathetic and supportive.

I think what you are feeling is what those of us who are leaders sometimes feel and that is vulnerability.

I remember once at an interview being asked about my leadership style and I replied something like - I'll lead and see who follows.

I am like you in that the web 2.0 thing is just an awesome development and we are privileged to be pioneering its use in education.There is a huge amount to learn and it keeps you true to your vocation of life long learning.

At my school there is a staff of 8 teachers. Two of us 'get it'. We endure at times but our focus is always the children and quality learning and teaching.

I commend you for your leadership, encourage you to keep on keeping on and keep learning.
ps - I really enjoy your blog, you have provided me with inspiration and some great links and info.

Graham Wegner said...

Mark, it was great to cross paths with you at the two Elluminate sessions although the format really placed most people in the role of audience. I really like Doug's comment here because it does show the double edged beast we are dealing with in so many ways. Participating in the edublogosphere brings in comrades from around the globe while the battle frequently seems to be far more local. There is also the networks vs. groups double edge as well that Doug alludes to. I've read quite a bit of Stephen's thoughts here and I think it may have something to do with his anti-K12 Conference posts. If we clamour too much to be part of a big group, then we may lose the ability to be ourselves, true to our own individual purposes. At times, the Fireside chat felt like a school classroom, humour shared amongst familiar people, lots of greetings for the more well known participants and I'll admit, people gravitating towards familiarity, like me directing comments to the two other Aussies. So while we are all contributing to this fantastic resource, a gathered repository that we can call upon in the "educating" of our local colleagues - the networking that took place will only be useful if broken into smaller opportunities to discuss on equal terms. I don't have much interest in attending online events where someone who I think is an edublogging peer holds the floor while I listen with gratitude. I want to explore ideas and issues on an equal footing - more and more, I understand your blogroll cleanout of several months ago. What I really like about yourself, Doug, Artichoke, Brian and others is your willingness to explore your frustrations, failures and emergent thinking. It makes your successes much more credible. While I'm here typing away, prattling on, thank you very much for your audio contribution to my K-12 presentation. That is the cool part about the world we live in - it is just as easy for me to ask you to help me as my next door neighbour. That bubble isn't about to burst anytime soon.

Ewan McIntosh said...

The others have really said the main part - it's normal to feel vulnerable in a group which expands around the planet. We're spread quite thinly. But I embrace the friendly faces and challenging thoughts thrown at me in the edublogosphere, and ignore the unconstructive nonsense some of the intellectual snobs throw out. The confidence gained from thinking things through in a public forum like a blog is also to be embraced to help change the teaching and learning going on in our schools - whether that change involves tech or not.

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach said...

Mark,

You are doing the right things. Change is slow, and change agents are vunerable.

Leadership means that one is out on the cutting edge somewhere, enjoying all the excitement and the fright that goes with it. - Roland Barth

Change can be likened to a planned journey into uncharted waters in a leaky boat with a mutinous crew. - Michael Fullan

You are doing the right things. It is a slow steady course and may take years to produce the outcomes you desire.

As to the Fireside Chat-- I agree with you-- it was wonderful to have that additional layer of contact with the brilliant folks I have read for so long and deeply respect, as well as making new friends who I look forward to reading in the future.

As to Graham's comments--
"...although the format really placed most people in the role of audience"

Please know we so struggled with how to format in a way that honored the keynoters and presenters for their time and energy and still give everyone equal voice-- all in under an hour.

We simply decided that the fireside chats would be like an "ice cream social" or edublogger "meet-up"-- allowing connections to be made and deepened but certainly not serving the purpose of deep reflection and profound solutions.

I personally would adore the kinds of exploration of ideas and issues on an equal footing that Graham describes and have in various Skypecasts I have attended.

In fact, we are hoping the 24 hour "When Night Falls" culminating event of the K12 Online Conference should be very much like what Graham is envisioning.

Mark Ahlness said...

Doug, Tom, Graham, Ewan, and Sheryl,

Thank you all for leaving your thoughts and support here. It means a lot. It is so very exciting to be part of this conversation. I was thinking how everyone in this room would be known to any of us by just the mention of a first name - and of course there are many others, that, if you're talking web 2.0, we would all know: Will, David, Wesley, etc... the list goes on, and there is comfort in that.

Which brings me to Doug's comment and link here to the post by Stephen Downes. No, not the one about the K12 Online Conference. The one where he talks about groups, networks, exclusivity, and more.

There is definitely a strong web 2.0 group out there. I hope it grows in positive ways. If it does, change will happen a lot faster. We need to keep an eye on it. Thanks again - Mark

janice said...

Mark,

We have your back also! You are not alone. What I like about what I hear from you is that it comes from a REAL place. You are in a school experiencing what other teachers are experiencing and you keep trying new things and letting us know what it does for your classroom.

Janice

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear about your frustrations and sad to think that you don't feel supported where you are. Thank you for blogging about it though - it helps put other people's struggles in context. How are we going to get where we need to go when people like you - ones I consider to be leaders worth listening to and emulating - are having their hands tied?

I daren't blog about my work . . .

Brian Schuliger said...

Hi Mark,

Skypecasts are essentially geared to a closed (Skype) network. If you like those, check out www.TalkShoe.com where you can use any telephone, landline or cell phone, VoIP client or Skype. We are using tier one teleconferencing bridge hardware, so each caller is clear and of telephony quality (meaning the call quality is not degraded by the number of users, software bridges, VoIP echo, etc.). And if you have one caller whose connection is problematic, you have Host control of the audio bridge and the text chat (mute/un-mute) so you can moderate and keep it clear and clean. And lastly, we record it and wrap it up for Podcasting! (you get a recording and RSS).

It is Live, Interactive Podcasting (or simply live topic-based discussions) – which allows you to hold open discussions or connect with your audience of your existing Podcast, Blog, Radio Show, and more.

Brian (the TalkShoe team)
brian@talkshoe.com
+1 (724) 935-talk

ps. fyi, we also pay people to Host Talkcasts (since August). Cheers - hope you check us out and have fun with it!


Brian E. Schuliger
Senior Vice President
+1 (724) 935-talk
brian@talkshoe.com

TalkShoe
12300 Perry Highway, Suite 306
Wexford, PA 15090

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