Can I admit something shameful? I love showing people Blabberize. I don’t mean that I like Blabbers, or that I think it’s a great tool. But I really love introducing that Web 2.0 site to educators that have never seen it before.
I do quite a few presentations nowadays, at conferences, Days of Discovery, institute days, and a slew of webinars. I’m still surprised at the direction my career has gone, but I really do love working with educators on integrating new technologies and feel blessed that I get the opportunity to do so face to face on a regular basis. That said, there’s nothing that I like better than when I ask a group of educators in a room how many of them have seen Blabberize… and not a hand goes up in the room.
I had a conversation with a colleague the other day who was lamenting the fact that so many teachers are so far behind (aka ignorant). That they aren’t aware of PLN’s, have never participated in a global project, or make use of wiki‘s and sites like Edmodo. S/he seemed almost pissed off that so many educators don’t make the extra effort to learn all the tools they need to make sure students can be set up to succeed in today’s world.
I beg to differ. I don’t see it as teachers spurning technology, or choosing not to take advantage of those new ideas and tools. I think most teachers don’t even realize that there’s a decision to be made. It’s not a matter of choosing the red pill or the blue pill… if you don’t know that there are even two pills available as options.
That’s why I love showing people Blabberize. It’s a litmus test. A teacher that has never heard of Blabberize or Glogster or Prezi, has never been introduced to the new world of online applications that are available to them. They likely don’t follow blogs or listen to podcasts. They have probably never been to an EdTech conference or seen a TED talk. In short, they’re just ordinary, average educators who aren’t aware that there’s a whole other world that they have easy access to… if they just ‘take the blue pill’.
Blabberize is a gateway. It’s so simple that they don’t feel there’s any magic trick to it. They know it’s something they could realistically pick up and use on their own. They can immediately see how they might be able to use it, whether it’s for sub plans or to have students share their knowledge. They don’t feel stressed about teaching their students how to use it because there’s nothing to it. But best of all, it gets them thinking… They start asking themselves what a technology like this allows them to do differently. They begin to realize that they can engage their students using technology, without turning every lesson into a ‘technology project’. Best of all, they start wondering what else there is out there that they might not have known about… and how they can find out.
I’m all for conversations about ‘big’ change. And yes, I agree, it’s not the technology, it’s the pedagogy. However, I also think that you need at least a minimal base to build from before you can have those conversations. And the vast majority of the educators in this country do NOT have that base yet.
Every day that I present for educators, I have a greater appreciate for how distorted the view is as seen through the eyes of a typical EduBlogger. In fact, the majority of the voices in the EdTech Community are so far ahead of the curve that it doesn’t even seem like their on the same road anymore. Most educators have never listened to a podcast, much less created one. They’ve never edited a wiki, much less started one of their own. So how on earth could they be expected to have a rational conversation about the impact new technologies are having on the skill sets our students need? Simply put, they can’t. The majority of the voices many of us listen to on a regular basis… actually represent just a tiny fraction of the educators out there. We’re the minority, the outsiders, the ones who talk using strange terms involving words with far too many missing vowels.
That’s why I love introducing educators to Blabberize. It’s a fun site and all. But more importantly, I know that I’m getting the opportunity to introduce them to an entirely new world that they may never have known existed. I get to set them on a journey that will broaden their horizons, and hopefully lead them to challenge their own philosophies of education. That’s what really gets me giddy. It’s not that they’ll know how to make their pictures talk… as Ben Kenobi once told Luke, “You have taken your first step into a larger world.” That’s exciting stuff to me.
And if we’re lucky, maybe they’ll create legendary works like the Plagiarism Yoda