Many thanks Bill – your notes are fair and clear, and I agree with almost all of it. I agree with your criticism:

My criticism Leigh, is not that your position is wrong (I believe it is right) but that you have over simplified something that is quite complex. Your argument sounds like a technocentric magic bullet.

You’re right, I can sound as though I’m talking up a technocentric magic bullet, though I think it depends who’s listening and how. So I’d like to reinforce the original intent of the TALO post you are critiquing, especially where I say, “..we’re not asking too much really..”

As you acknowledge, I was concentrating on a comparison between networked learning and previous attempts by schools into elearning. By schools, I mostly mean tertiary. By “not asking too much really” I meant compared to in the past where teachers were encouraged and funded to learn html, java, action script, css, cms, meta data tagging and scorm at the worst, and to produce digital content in quite a complicated ways using broadcast quality videos and fully intergrated “learning objects”. compared to all that – creating a blog, participating in a wiki, and using a camera phone to record and distribute video is so much easier and more clearly more sustainable – therefore, compared to content centric, managed learning system, we are not asking too much.

But you did acknowledge that intent in my post, so it must be the extension to my opinion that you are critiquing most of all, in which I say:

By doing so [networked learning] we believe teachers will rediscover the relevance in their topics that their students need and crave. By doing so we believe teacher’s live’s, attitudes and moral will improve. By doing so we believe teachers will discover ways of integrating those “distractions” such as mobile phones, MP3 Xbox, PSP and television players and laptops, into their classroom activities. By doing so we believe teachers will learn how to communicate better in our digitally networked world.

I don’t think we are asking too much really.

And I whole heartedly agree with your criticism Bill, that I am over simplifying.. Getting relevance into School curriculum is complex (impossible?) it is here that we are clearly asking a huge if not impossible amount. So the extension and my final sentence at this point is actually a cynical and sarcastic close.

We all know what teachers do and say are entirely separate things.. “do as I say, not as I do” is how it generally goes right? I winged about this a bit last year as well. Getting teachers to acknowledge it and take responsibility back for the curriculum, away from the Boards of Study and curriculum centres, and develop something more immediate and locally relevant with which is a hard (impossible?) task for everyone involved. And seeing as you link to that work in progress called teaching is dead – long live learning (which I’m now confident is a very good name), you can see that I have a somewhat cynical and sarcastic view of teaching as we commonly know and experience it. I don’t believe school is where we go to get an education anymore, remembering that I speak mostly of a tertiary and sometimes secondary school.

So Bill, if we agree that there is a need for a radical change in our education system, I guess it’s a matter of whether we agree who and what is ultimately responsible. No matter what the complexity and detail, I think it is a system made up of teachers that is the problem… ((talk about biting the hand that feeds. I can feel myself about to be taken round the back of the shed to be shot..))

You made the interesting opening in your post, explaining why you think change cannot happen systemically, and why some form of “revolution” is inevitable. In many ways I share that view, but I also feel that your critique of my efforts could be tool with which “Schools know very well how to nip this subversion in the bud” as you say. Kind of like white wash, absorb the foreign body by digesting it into our complex system… classical

By simplifying, I feel it is easier to mobilise or at least motivate people who are interested in seeing our education system change, (not just teachers) and creating a larger foreign body. At the very least it helps people quickly see that there is some sort of problem, and that schools are not the hallowed ground we think they might be, and a place in which they might have a stake to claim. Sure, there are some who don’t appreciate the simplifications and strive to describe the detail, sometimes by first discrediting the other revolutionaries, but I’m not overly concerned because I’m satisfied that this revolution is driving itself now. I’m not overly concerned at the prospect of alienating some teachers and managers, because it is not only teachers or managers that should hear this.

What I want to do is meet or convince others of the need for whole change, and who feel that something like the information communications technologies we are using today will enable that change. I have met all sorts of teachers who harbor these feelings in some way. Old deschoolers, anarchists, outreach workers, lefties and has been unionists – always in places I least expect. Perhaps simplification of the issues is often what is needed to enliven those people and inspire them to see the possibilities and take action of some sort – start a blog perhaps, support blogging in the organisation.

Apart from over simplification, you also quite fairly criticise my opinion as being technocentric. Is it really technocentric though, my arguments? I guess to someone who is not used to producing and accessing digital formats of information, and communicating with and through it online it would seem very much so. But I don’t think the work of education has ever been free of information and communications technology, whether it be blackboards and a screenprinter, or networked communications through a computer (for lack of a better medium for the mean time). So I think its just a matter of familiarity with technologies and their usefulness that determines if someone else is technocentric. But it is you who is accusing me of being technocentric, someone who is very familiar with digital and networked communications, so I need to sit up and take notice.. but suppose the reverse is true in your critique at this point. Suppose that the view of my talk for networked learning being technocentric is guilty in itself of over simplifying a proposal that is actually more complex than just technology? Because I don’t think I’ve ever been guilty of talking about technology without also talking of some form of social or political application for it. Actually, I think I tend to focus more on the social and political and then the technology that enables it.

This response to your critique has been a toughy Bill. I hope I make some sense and am not just digging myself a hole here. In the end I think what you say about the way in which I express my opinion is to some extent true. But I don’t think I’m all that concerned by being seen to over simplify. What I am concerned about is the possibility that you are looking at the finger more than what it is pointing at. To what end is that? You want me to point at more and different things? I’m pointing at what I can see, tell me more about what you can see out there.

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