Here’s a great interview at EdWeek about Will Richardson, who used to teach and is now consulting with teachers on how to bring their profession and their lifestyle into the 21st Century. No wonder after reading the interview that you come up with the no-brainer that this guy had to leave teaching. Here are the first two questions, the second one gives Richardson a chance to show that at times it really looks like the culture of teaching is in conflict with the way the Internet works:
You’ve written that too many teachers are “un-Googleable.” What do you mean by that and why does it matter?
What I mean is that too few teachers have a visible presence on the Web. The primary reason this matters is that the kids in our classrooms are going to be Googled—they’re going to be searched for on the Web—over and over again. That’s just the reality of their lives, right? So they need models. They need to have adults who know what it means to have a strong and appropriate search portfolio—I call it the “G-portfolio.” But right now—and this is my ongoing refrain—there’s no one teaching them how to learn and share with these technologies. There’s no one teaching them about the nuances involved in creating a positive online footprint. It’s all about what not to do instead of what they should be doing.
The second thing is that, if you want to be part of an extended learning network or community, you have to be findable. And you have to participate in some way. The people I learn from on a day-to-day basis are Googleable. They’re findable, they have a presence, they’re participating, they’re transparent. That’s what makes them a part of my learning network. If you’re not out there—if you’re not transparent or findable in that way—I can’t learn with you.
Why do you think many teachers are not out there on the Web?
I think it’s a huge culture shift. Education by and large has been a very closed type of profession. “Just let me close my doors and teach”—you hear that refrain all the time. I’ve had people come up to me after presentations and say, “Well, I’m not putting my stuff up on the Web because I don’t want anyone to take it and use it.” And I say, “But that’s the whole point.” I love what David Wiley, an instructional technology professor at Brigham Young University, says: “Without sharing, there is no education.” And it’s true. We really have to be—or at least should be—sharing our stuff freely, and in doing so making new connections and working in these communities and networks that can really enhance our own learning. That’s just what the world looks like right now. But it’s just a very different kind of culture and approach to learning than has traditionally prevailed—and still prevails—in schools. A lot of educators just don’t see the opportunities.