The last couple of days, the one picture I can’t get out of my head is the one of groups of Congressmen huddled around talking in hushed tones along the lines of:
“Ok, so what is a blog again?”
“Look, just think MySpace.”
“Ohhh, yeah. MySpace! Blogs are evil…dangerous!”
“Dang straight…and that Wikipedia thing is just a mess.”
“Nevermind…just think prisoners taking over the asylum. We need to take back the truth!”
“Take it back! Absolutely! But…um…how do we do that?”
“Take back truth?”
“No, no, no…truth doesn’t matter. This is about DANGER. We’ve got all sorts of people out there, predators I tell ‘ya, and our kids are in DANGER! We have to DELETE the PREDATORS!”
“Mercy! The people will love us, won’t they?”
Ok, so maybe that’s a stretch. Bottom line is that too few of them have any idea of what is happening because they haven’t the experience to understand them. They don’t live in this world. They don’t live in kids’ worlds.
And that’s true for 90% of the non-kid population (and, to be honest, probably about 1/3 of the kid population too.) What I’m reminded of by the DOPA decision is that once again, this community, this “echo chamber,” is not representative of the real world when it comes to how these technologies can impact learning. We feed off of each other’s energy and passion, but that makes it so easy (for me, at least) to forget that there are about a gajillion people out there who still have no clue about this. And in my specific case, it hasn’t helped that I’ve been out there more and more having great conversations with inspiring and inspired teachers and administrators who get it and see the importance of understanding. I’ve been preaching to the choir, as we all have, but I’ve forgotten that the choir is infinitesimally small.
I’ve blogged about this before, this idea that we have to find ways to take this message to other groups outside of education, to parents, to school boards, to local politicians, to businessmen. And here’s the irony: we bloggers who believe in blogs in the classroom should be doing less blogging. I’ve been sitting here growing complacent because everyone who is commenting and linking and posting on their blogs and podcasting gets it or at least has the context for the discussion. And then, boom…DOPA passes by 400 votes. 400! I think that’s what gets me most…the sheer number. The fact that ONLY 15 voted against it.
Despite the best efforts of bloggers and ISTE and CoSN and ALA and others, I’m not optimistic about turning the tide in the Senate. That number, 15, is a serious reality check. If it had been 150, or even 100…
But it was 15.
So, I’m doing what I can short term, but I’m thinking harder about long term. Those of you who have read this blog for a while know that I believe in the end, these changes are inevitably going to impact classrooms in profound ways. The only question is when. DOPA, if the Senate passes it, will be a setback, although we don’t yet completely know the impact. But in the long run, it’s just a bump.
But we have got to move this discussion into wider circles. This comment on my last post does a great job of articulating a different strategy. And again, the irony is, I think, that we’ve got to do it in Web 0.0 ways, by writing books, articles for print in magazines that don’t have anything to do with education or technology (read: Good Housekeeping), letters to editors, calling into radio shows, make CDs and DVDs, and maybe some Web 1.0 ways too like e-mail and discussion groups. We’ve got to stop preaching to the choir and spend more of our time “out there.” I’ve got a couple of ideas I’m pursuing that I’ll no doubt blog about if and when they happen, but the bottom line is, I’m looking more outward.
I’d love to hear others’ ideas of how best to articulate these stories to the wider universe..