Sunday, June 08, 2008

Guerrillas vs. Evangelists

I have been away from this spot for way too long. With the end of the school year and a myriad of other duties, I have been unable to get back here to get this out. I actually started this post several times and then hit 'delete' thinking that it was a little 'out there.' But as I kept thinking about it, it made more and more sense. So, what is it?

Over the past three years, when my EdTech epiphany occurred, I have gone back and forth looking for the right paradigm to explain my vigilance in the EdTech arena. I started with evangelism, thinking that I needed to convert the masses and bring Educational Technology to them and convert others. Did I need a list of theses, like Martin Luther had in 1515 in Wittenberg? I know that Wesley Fryer contemplated his own list of theses in one of his blog posts. I saw the need to bring the information and the skills to the teachers I worked with on a daily basis, but if I went over board I would run the risk of alienating some and end up with the opposite effect. I also looked into some of the strategies of Guy Kawasaki, one of the original 'Apple Evangelists' to gain some insight into non-religious evangelism. What it really came down to was the dedication to an ideal or set of ideas that any individual wanted to garner more attention for. I was much more comfortable with that definition in theory and practice.

I have also used the idea of being an EdTech Guerrilla. I even have registered the domain, Guerrilla Learning, which sits fallow right now and my current professional development wiki is titled, "Guerrilla Learning." I took the wikipedia definition of Guerrilla Warfare and broke it down to illustrate how students (the guerrillas) and the teachers (the established government) interact with educational technology. The students, being more willing to take chances with the technology and media they had access to would begin to create rich content and use it to demonstrate their mastery of educational objectives, whereas the school, not being able to control the information and media would attempt to lock it out. I have rattled around the ideas of guerrillas, but the ideals of Che Guevara didn't exactly get me where I wanted to be. When I first thought of Guerrilla Warfare, I had images of the Movie, "Red Dawn" from the mid 80's with Patrick Swayze and teenagers from Colorado taking on the Soviet backed, Cuban paratroopers. Although, I dislike the overtly military references, I did tend to identify with the definition on many different levels. First, those taking part did so of their own choice. Secondly, they used what every was available to them to advance their cause or ideals. Third, there was an emphasis on being mobile, and attacking from ambush or other advantageous positions, which is a definite trend in EdTech. (mobility and quickness)

So, what is my goal? My goal is to equip teachers and students with the tools necessary to create rich media and use it to demonstrate their mastery of educational objectives. To teach teachers and students that they are the masters of their own knowledge and they do not need to rely on someone lecturing on it to obtain it, it is available on any Internet accessible computer. But to truly make teachers and students accountable for their own learning, we must teach them the skills to evaluate and make informed decisions about the content they are consuming.

The paradigm is important in the sense that it gives someone a point of reference or a way to scaffold the skills and information to make meaning of it for the teachers and students. What paradigms do you you use? How do you use paradigms personally? How do you teach students to use paradigms to take control of their own learning? Regardless of the specific paradigm that you or your students use, having a well thought out systematic process to teach one's self is well worth it and it is something that brings focus to the teaching and learning process.

1 comment:

Lindsea said...

That's really interesting. I like the idea of guerrilla learning.

(About a couple months ago, my description on twitter was "guerrilla learner." I did it half-jokingly, but I can see it's applications better now.)

How do you think you'll accomplish your goal?