Had a great conversation with my friend and former colleague Rob Mancabelli the other day about the challenges that individual teachers face in understanding and, more importantly, practicing learning in these online spaces. Rob started a blog for a bit a few years ago, one that I thought was exceptional, but he dropped it in short order. He’s mulling over a return, thankfully, because he’s continuing the work we started at my old stomping grounds by rolling out a student 1-1 pilot this fall, one that will hopefully move teachers and students to more self-directed, inquiry-based curricula and classrooms. Personally, I keep begging him to share that process in a blog; I think I may be breaking him down. ;0)

Anyway, we were talking about the pilot group of teachers that had been selected for the work, and at one point the talk turned to the reasons why this is such a hard shift for many. It’s not the technology, we both agreed, as much as it is the shifts in transparency and privacy, and the emphasis on writing and creating that go along with putting yourself out there online. “It’s not about blogs,” he said “so much as it’s about human development.” I totally agree, but since our conversation I’ve been thinking about what the implications of that are, exactly. The Web and the social connections and learning it affords is moving us, I think, to a different type of consciousness, a different way of being in the world. While the way we interact with people in our personal spaces will always be crucial to our personal development and well being, we are in many ways being asked to recreate ourselves in virtual spaces, sometimes multiple spaces. And we’re being asked to do that work in public with others. I happened upon this old Doc Searles quote this morning, and it made even more sense than it did two years ago when I first read it:

We are all authors of each other. What we call authority is the right we give others to author us, to make us who we are… That right is one we no longer give only to our newspapers, our magazines, our TV and radio stations. We give it to anybody who helps us learn and understand What’s Going On in the world.”

The comfort zone required to live in that “author-ity” space is pretty difficult for many of us, educators and non-educators alike, to find. And while our kids may seem to exist more comfortably in these online, social spaces, I still question whether they completely comprehend the potentials of their work there.