Friday, June 19, 2009

Shifting Landscapes of Professional Learning, Part 6

Our professional learning landscape is shifting. But what are the implications?

One trend I have observed in the past couple of years is that many professionals are blogging less and micro-blogging more. This notice on the Samurailibrarian blog is probably fairly typical, although there may not be many people openly recognizing that they are shifting in the direction of micro-blogging. As readers we'll miss those full, rich blog posts if this trend continues!

Another implication is that we may not be taking the time to think deeply, to reflect on what we are learning, and to transfer our learning to different situations. This recent post by, as he anticipates starting a masters degree, outlines what he hopes to get out of the experience. On the top of his list is better focus and reflection.
When it comes to my personal learning and professional development, I often feel like the birds that visit my garden feeder. They swoop in, grab a seed and take off, zipping to the next feeder where they stop, grab another and zoom away. Like those birds, I tend to zip from topic to topic, grabbing seeds of information from here and there. It’s not a great trait to continually consume and not critically reflect on what I am taking in. At some point, you have to stop and digest.

I am not sure why I have this very strong (and completely delusional) desire to KNOW EVERYTHING. In doing so, I often end up knowing nothing or knowing just enough to make me dangerous and/or annoying. To stretch the bird analogy, I am not sure what the metaphorical cat in the bushes who waits to pounce is. Fear? Pride? A need to know all the answers so I can fix all the problems? I don’t know what is at the root of my need to know everything about everything, but I hope that the academic rigors of this program will help (force) me to focus and reflect and develop better self-discipline.
Clint is looking closely at his personal situation in this post, but is what he describes a widespread dilemma? Has our ability to connect so readily with peers caused us to skim the surface -- to learn a bit about everything but not take the time to digest, and even contemplate why and how we will apply what we are learning?

D'Arcy Norman, an educational technology developer at University of Calgary, made a decision to delete his twitter account because it was interfering with his, well, life. He began to notice his habits change:
One thing I’ve found is that by removing myself from the Pavlovian update/response feedback loop, I feel as though my thinking is clearer. I’m more present. I’m not constantly distilling my life into 140 character chunks, nor am I constantly wondering if there are any @dnorman tweets waiting for me.

Another thing I find is that I now use richer and deeper channels of communication. I’m not trying to stuff conversations into short asynchronous segments. I’m talking in realtime via IM. I’m communicating in more depth via email. I’m writing more and better blog posts.
D'Arcy has since returned to twitter, perhaps making a more conscious effort to balance time spent on and off line. And indeed, is that the direction we should all take? Rather than focus so much on managing our multimemberships online, perhaps we need to focus more on how to balance our on and offline lives.

Betty Gilgoff mentions this review by Tom Snyder of Heather Menzies's book called “No Time: Stress and the Crisis of Modern Life.”
A result of increasingly abstract communication, Menzies argues, is that the value of particular locations in time and space (a "space of places") has been replaced by a "space of flows", with data and symbols achieving primacy over lived experience. "It's not just the relentless speed of it all, nor being scattered across a bunch of multi-tasking fragments, it's the fact that we're engaged in a realm of pure representation, ready-made icons and modules of standardized symbols ...."
This certainly reminds us of the wise words in Barbara Ganley's keynote at CeLC. Slow down. Ask why. Be ready to defend your decisions.

So how has your landscape of professional learning shifted? What are the implications? These are the questions we hope to engage participants in at our paper jam session on June 19. We are collecting our resources into a wiki.

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