Dean Shareski has written an interesting post, The Honeymoon’s Over, which struck a chord with me because a lot of the criticism of the edublogosphere is that it is a full of repetitive, derivative posts (you could certainly include a number of mine in that) that recycle conversations and preach to the converted. He writes:
“I’ve noticed lately that it seems the edublogosphere is beginning to show more signs of maturing and is looking less like an echo chamber. While I have no clear data I can point to several discussions of late that engage both sides of an issue in some fairly poignant debate.”
I’ve learned so much in the past year reading people’s insights into and tips on improving learning and technology use, especially those of Clay Burrell, Jeff Utecht, Doug Belshaw, Judy Connell and Kim Cofino. Generally, the level of thinking that takes place in this “sphere” is intense, intelligent and progressive. However, there is an absence of critical thinking at times, especially about sources of information and the legitmacy of claims made, which we all promote as something that can be improved through the use of Web 2.0 tools. An example of this is Tom Hoffman’s thoughtful critique of the original Did You Know
He states: “What is particularly disturbing is that this piece has been so unquestionably picked up and promoted by people who spend a significant chunk of their time preaching about “information literacy” and such.”
“Richard” commenting on Hoffman’s post pointed out that: “I looked through a number of the citations and found a number of errors, simplified descriptions of study results, and data that cannot be verified. I find this very troubling. The presentation is authoritative and presents these data as real and concrete. Closer examination shows that they are not at all as concrete as they are presented. I think this is a disservice both to the original audience and to all those who saw the presentation on the web and unwittingly repeat all of this as if it is real.”
This viral video, has racked up 425,599 views on YouTube and 58,656 view on TeacherTube. Karl Fisch estimates that this video has been viewed more than 2 million times, whereas others put the figure at five million. This video is very persuasive and while well-intentioned, is an example of poor research. For me, the teaching “moment” here is: Check, check again and recheck your sources before you publish anything.
Another interesting aspect of writing on blogs is there is a fine line between presenting a divergent viewpoint and coming across as rude. Gary Stager, well-known for not holding back, raises this in an interesting debate on David Warlick’s post how information has changed, when he wrote:
“Here is a dilemma I have been struggling with for some time. The intimacy, folksiness and familiarity of the blogosphere makes every blogger your warm dear close personal friend. What is the proper way to express thoughtful dissent without appearing mean, crazy or uncivil? In other words, What if I totally disagree with you? What if thoughtful dissent requires more than a paragraph to express?”
Other voices of dissent I’ve enjoyed reading include Tim Holt’s deconstruction of talk 2.0 in How to become a keynote speaker. Like any good satirical piece, there is a biting and insightful critique and like most Australians I am a sucker for sarcasm. Another of Holt’s posts, Not Invited to the Buffet, discusses the issue of gender representation among ed tech leaders.
Another, more conciliatory but dissenting voice is Graham Wegner who questions the need for standardised tagging, in The Olympics Effect Theory, and raises the importance of taking an international approach to education and blogging. In a similar vein, Stephen Downes asks wasn’t the whole idea of the folksonomy that there were no standards?
The presence of diverse opinion is what makes the edublogosphere an interesting “place” and having the ability to defend your viewpoint and counter and incorporate different ideas is what reflective thinking is really about.