On my nightly stroll this evening I was listening to the podcast version of The Tech Guy with Leo Laporte, episode 756 (show notes here, audio not available on that page yet, but downloaded via their iTunes feed here). During his monologue, Leo discusses the fact that there was no breakout technology at SXSW this year. When discussing this with other techies, there was a general conclusion that very low “barrier to entry” means that there are SO many tools, great and otherwise, available, that no standout tool was able to emerge.
Mr. Laporte had some interesting commentary here related to barrier to entry, and the fact that isn’t a bad thing per se, but means that there is even greater imporatance of creating filters to make sure that you are finding the good stuff.
There is an easy take-home point here related to filters, but, I think there is a greater problem here that we, as tech-savvy teachers, need to think about. There is a lot of excellent points being made about audience and giving our students an audience. I don’t want to distract from those points, I think the efforts we make to give our students voices globally are incredibly well-placed.
That said, I think we need to be cautious about proclaiming that as pushing students over that barrier to entry means they will have a global audience. Will there materials be “global?” Sure. Does that mean they will have an audience? No. There is an awful lot of noise out there and it is hard to distinguish yourself among all of that noise.
I had some frustrating experiences as a classroom teacher with my students blogging. Among my experiences with classroom blogging was a semester with world geography students blogging about China, Japan and Europe. Despite aggressive efforts Tweeting, promoting to parents and out to the Internets, there wasn’t a lot of traffic to our blog (from locals, let alone our outside our walls) and some of my students turned cynical when there wasn’t really a “global” audience as promised.
I framed it differently in later semesters and don’t regret the efforts, but, I needed to be careful to advertise this correctly to kids. There are very much worthwhile efforts, but, I think we need to be careful not to overpromise to our students.
Just a thought…