(RANT ALERT!) In a few weeks we're going to be looking at blogs in the Work Literacy course. As we think about that module and the fact that for most people, their primary interaction with blogs is to read them, I'm growing impatient with this idea from a learning perspective. In fact, I have to go on record right now as saying that reading blogs is only a small part of what makes blogs powerful for learning. Yes, there's a lot of great stuff available out there, but honestly, if you think that reading blog posts is the key to learning with blogs, then I think you're missing the boat.
A few things that have led me to this place. First was my experience last week in talking with people about blogging and learning. Most organizations still see blogs as a way to push their content to learners, which to my mind makes blogs simply a multimedia e-newsletter. OK as far as it goes, but so NOT getting to the real opportunities.Blogs are a conversation between the blogger and him/herself (a form of reflection) and between the blogger and his/her readers. THAT'S where the real learning takes place. Not just in the passive absorption of someone's post.
Then I read this this article (cited by Stephen Downes) about the so-called decline in literacy that is happening from people doing their reading online. Somehow the fact that people tend to scan when they read online leads to a diatribe on how we've wasted our money by trying to get schools to come into the technological 21st century by bringing laptops into schools. Well if you regard laptops as simply a combo TV and book, then yeah, I guess it's been a waste. But again, we can do so much more than that.
Last week I liveblogging several conference sessions at Brandon Hall. This is the first time I've done this and it added a depth and dimension to my workshop learning that I simply have not experienced before. Liveblogging forced me to listen more carefully to the presenters and the conversations that took place. I found myself paying even more attention to the temperature in the room--were people engaging with the presenters, did the presentations seem to resonate, what were their questions?
Taking notes online also made my notes more multi-dimensional. For every website a presenter mentioned, I was able to grab the link and supporting materials to fill out my notes immediately, something I wouldn't have been able to do if I took notes with my traditional paper and pen. Instead of having scribbled thoughts on a scrap of paper I'd likely never look at again, the posts I developed became rich with resources and links. Further, because I posted them on my blog, they were available not only to me, but to anyone who wanted them.
There's huge learning power in that. Sending one person to a conference can potentially educate your entire organization. The same thing can happen in meetings and as part of daily work. When people are actively engaging with and reflecting on their professional experiences, which blogging encourages us to do, that's where ongoing learning really takes place.
I think my frustration right now is that I've realized how firmly entrenched people are in a sort of passive, one-way view of the web. There still doesn't seem to be a full recognition of the power of co-creation and the idea that Web 2.0 tools give all of us an opportunity to participate in and manage our own learning. If you see social media as primarily a more simple and efficient way for the usual experts to be able to share their opinions and content, then you're missing the point of the revolution.
Web 2.0 isn't about the fact that learning professionals can now publish learning content without going to a webmaster or needing highly sophisticated tools. It's about the fact that EVERYONE can participate in co-creating learning. Our jobs as learning professionals shift from being primarily content producers to facilitating others in creating their own content, showing them how they can actively engage with information and learning materials, teaching them how to be self-directed learners. We have to get past this idea of the Web as simply a more efficient mechanism for dumping information.
As long as we persist in seeing Web 2.0 through the lens of Web 1.0, we're never going to appreciate the true power and opportunity here. (END RANT)