This is just me thinking out loud…I have no idea where this post is going to go.
I showed this video today:
Although I don’t think it is the best video, it is always nice to hear voices of kids as we move forward in education. I showed this video knowing that it was from Pearson, a company that I do not know much about, but I am guessing I would not really be pushing for in our schools. E-textbooks are cool but not 21st century learning. Other than that, I don’t know much about what they do. In fact, that video might actually start a conversation about what they do and how they can help kids, which is what I am sure that they are hoping for. Still, that video is not going to sell me on any product.
Now some might be against sharing a video from that company but I think that the people that work there are actually trying to make a difference in the lives of kids. I may not agree with their beliefs on education and learning, but honestly, I can guarantee there are people there who want to do good. I could also probably say that there are people there who are interested in making a ton of money and are just wanting to sell a product. I honestly don’t know though.
So some might be against supporting a company that makes money off of selling something to a school yet I see something like “Powerful Learning Practice” share a ton of good stuff and get supported by many educators. I think one of the big differences is that many in the “Twittersphere” know the people that work with that group. Signing up for their professional development program isn’t free, yet they share a lot of extremely valuable stuff for educators that many of us benefit from freely (like this Connected Learner Manifesto).
But Pearson is sharing stuff we can use freely as well? So what’s the difference?
I also think about how Dan Meyer wrote about not sharing “Top 100 Posts” by Online Colleges. I try my best to avoid linking to these sites on Twitter but I am going to be honest, I have shared them before. When I have shared them, I actually have had people share Dan Meyer’s post directly to me. I get that the intent is not to improve learning, but to drive blog hits because lists do that.
So what happens when a blogger starts to make lists incessantly, not necessarily for their own learning, but to drive hits to their blog? I think that most bloggers (including myself) enjoy when our work is looked at, but I struggle when “hits” become the focus. Isn’t that what the “Online Degree” sites are trying to do? Get hits? Should educational bloggers have their work discredited because of what their intent may seem to be? People love lists because they are short, get to the point and helpful. I have written posts that have lists in them and I often refer back to them myself or refer others to them. Sometimes those lists are helpful.
So what am I saying in all of this? To be honest, I have no idea. I do know that it is important for us to know where the content that we share comes from and be thoughtful of the purpose. I also don’t believe that all educational programs or companies are bad yet I am still going to be highly thoughtful and critical in my thinking of what they are doing and what they are “selling”.
What I am trying to figure out is what is the conversation that we should be having with kids around sharing this type of content, what they should share, or even should they share stuff that comes from a particular source? Many are comfortable with sharing stuff from a company like Pearson or Discovery Education, but others are not so much? Should we be critical of either party? I am really unsure and clouded on this topic.