I came across this post from Steven Anderson’s Web 2.0 Classroom blog, one I like to follow for occasional resources and insightful commentary related to teaching with technology, while waiting for construction workers to show up and start cutting a hole in my house (we’re egressing a basement window this week).
In the post, Anderson, a director of instructional technology for a school district in North Carolina, reflects on his experiences at ISTE, a conference I have never attended and that has only recently caught my attention as something that should be on my radar. And that phenomenon — the constant discovery of new stuff I didn’t know about but apparently need to know about — is what this post is about.
Constructing and maintaining an online presence, I have found in the past few weeks, is very difficult. I’m still pretty awful at using Twitter, which I blame on my stupidphone (which will be remedied as soon as our contract is up). Keeping up with the ever-increasing resources, conferences, and conversations about technology is even harder. I feel like every time I talk to my friend, Crystal, whose research also focuses on new media, I learn about yet another website, conference, or group on tech and ed that I knew nothing about. Combine that with the fact that I’m trying to straddle a line between what schools of education call “new literacies”/”digital literacies” and what the humanities call “new media”/”digital rhetorics,” and I find myself overwhelmed and confused about how to be part of this community more often than I feel in control.
But then I take a step back, read over what I just wrote, and think, “maybe that’s the point, Liz.” As Anderson points out in his post, today’s connected communities allow us to choose which connections matter most to us. The opportunities are indeed infinite. I used to tell people who condemned my undergraduate institution, The University of Illinois, for being “too big” and “too impersonal” that a university is only as big as you make it. The first couple days of college are overwhelming — you want to take salsa classes, join about ten clubs, volunteer, and do intramural sports, until you realize which things are really most important to you. The same is true of the Internet. My community and connections, right now, are expanding, but I am also learning how to make that community meaningful and how to allow it to constantly evolve, never be stable. So “control” in today’s 21st-century web ed/tech/literacy/digital community is perhaps not only unrealistic, but also undesirable.
Happy connecting, readers. Make it mean something.