Friday, February 12, 2010

More on iMoot 2010 and the networked creator

Tomaz Lasic is promising to write about the panel discussion in iMoot 2010 that he moderated and I listened to last Saturday morning; I participated via the chat board. As I mentioned in my last post here, it was a wonderful experience in which to participate. I'm eager to hear/read his report. Tomaz is starting his new job at Moodle HQ soon and he posted to Twitter a comment that a friend of his made to him "So, you're going from environment that doesn't encourage community creation (EdDept) to where comm. is valued & key (Moodle.)" I clumsily tried to expand on that comment by expressing my envy of Tomaz in his new job, but I think the point of the comment that Tomaz's friend made is crucial to what's happening and needs to continue to happen in education. Moodle is by definition a tool that encourages community creation, and Tomaz is a perfect example of John Hagel's poignant observation in his recent post - "Rather than simply pursuing our passion as a hobby, we felt a growing need to make our passion our profession." Tomaz is truly a "networked creator."

I also listened to Martin Dougiamas's keynote talk that kicked off iMoot. Martin, too, demonstrated what a networked creator looks like. In fact, Martin is the gold standard for doing conscious networked creation. His early writing makes his intentions clear. The millions of Moodle users around the planet are the beneficiaries of that conscious networked creativity.

And that contrasts sharply with what is all too common in k-12 school districts- A superintendent holds a meeting that is attended by a group of people. Everybody at the meeting takes notes on paper but nobody records communally what's said. Then, the people at the meeting call another meeting where even more people attend and take separate notes on paper and nothing again gets recorded in common. Each of the people at that meeting then go off to their buildings and call meetings where they mimic the behavior they've just witnessed - they report what they've heard. Sometimes this pattern gets a little 'innovative.' Instead of just having meetings the information is passed via paper, and then, sometimes, even greater 'innovation' occurs and the information gets passed via a chain of emails. That's not creativity - it's passing information. The passing of the information dilutes creativity and accountability.

Instead of welcoming the feedback and criticism that Martin describes as crucial to the quality of the ongoing creative process, the hierarchical information passing system is paranoid about making sure the information is passed 'with fidelity.' Because there's no common record, the information tends to get confused or misunderstood or twisted somehow. And yet, the paranoid system seems to take weeks to get even the a single convoluted idea on paper or into print.

I understand that it takes time to formulate ideas. I've yet to get my thoughts on the page about why Moodle is a model for the kind of 'accountability that is being yearned for by the 'reformers' even though I don't think they would recognize the truth of real accountability if it was staring them in the face. But I won't be surprised if that thought process isn't taken up by someone else via Twitter, or a blog, or even the new and somewhat still puzzling Buzz. I'm not suggesting that this convergence of ideas is the same thing as the recent scandal of the teenage novelist in Germany (I'm not even going to bother to link to that; google it if you haven't yet read about it.) It's just that the speed of ideas that go zipping from Australia to Minnesota to Germany and back to Australia (I was tipped off via Twitter to Hagel's blog by John Mak) is becoming something I'm beginning to trust. I've never met John but I think we've thought about the same things at about the same time and mentioned it to the world via our 'network.' It's work is progress.

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