When asked to think about my “infodiet”, or the sources I use daily to get news and information, I realized that mine is very limited. My PLN consisted of mostly elementary education resources from teacher blogs and, Twitter, in addition to other elementary school teachers within my school and district. After realizing how limited I was, I thought back to Eli Pariser’s Ted Talk: Beware Online “Filter Bubbles”. It was then, I realized, I’ve been living in a filter bubble (Pariser, 2011). I needed to expand my knowledge base to other areas in order to have more learning opportunities. Why not expand to high school teachers to see how edtech goes in those grades? Why not incorporate educational systems from other countries in my PLN? I hear Finland is on the move with classroom redesign, that would be a great addition to my PLN (Lukkah, 2015). I decided to incorporate other grade levels, schools, countries, and other careers and fields of study to my PLN so that I’m able to understand education from multiple perspectives – not just that of a teacher.
During Eli Pariser’s Ted Talk, he mentioned how certain websites, such as Google, are filtering the information that we consume through an algorithm they have created (Pariser, 2011). This made me think of a Freakonomics podcast I had listened to called “Is the Internet Being Ruined?” It talks about how Facebook, Twitter, and a number of other websites are using an algorithm to filter information based on what they think people “want” to see (Dubner, 2016). It was surprising to me to realize that this filter bubble I’ve fallen into partially is not my fault, because the information and advertisements I see have been filtered, or “tailored” for me by various algorithms (Dubner, 2016). I can’t control the information algorithms show me, but I can control the new information that I seek out as I continue to build my PLN.
While researching this week, I decided to step out of my comfort zone. I focused on problems of practice in education from a viewpoint opposite of mine. In order to do this, first, I had to take a step back and do some self-reflection. I always respect the opinions of others, no matter how different they are. However, I also have a very strong opinion of what education should and shouldn’t look like. I understand that we all teach in different styles and have different educational beliefs, so I had to remain open minded and accepting of the viewpoints I would encounter while researching.
For example, I decided to do some research on why parents (and some educators) are fervently fighting against teaching the Common Core. They think this system is ruining education because it has too many standards and its unclear wording and teaching methods are making it harder for everyone to learn (Stumpenhorst, 2015). Another problem of practice I researched deals with the topic of homework. Why do teachers assign homework every night and scold students when they don’t turn it in? I decided to follow some educational blogs dedicated to this specific cause that goes against the “norm” considering the way traditional education is imagined (Ripp, 2013).
The last problem of practice I researched was the (lack of) complex thinking in schools. Teachers are always encouraged to be innovative, think outside the box, and to teach critical and complex thinking skills to their students. But what does that really mean? How does it look in a classroom with real students, not just a brilliant thought written on a lesson plan or teacher evaluation form? (Couros, 2015)
All of the new blogs and twitter feeds I now follow have helped shape my thinking on these problems of practice. I can appreciate and accept differing viewpoints and realized that I can learn from anyone, no matter what the situation or opinion may be.
(@gcouros, @tedfujimoto, @martelagroup, Pernille Ripp are just a few of the inspirational new sources I’ve added to my PLN)
The problem I decided to delve a little deeper into is the wicked problem of complex thinking. I gave a survey to educators from diverse school settings in hopes of gaining insight to their views on complex thinking within the teachers and students in their schools. Check out the Prezi below to see the surprising results.
Couros, G. (2015). The innovator’s mindset: Empower learning, unleash talent, and lead a culture of creativity. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting.
Lukka, R. (2015). DESKLESS LEARNING ENVIRONMENT HAS A GREAT ATMOSPHERE. Retrieved August 4, 2016, from http://martela.com/news-articles-and-press-releases/deskless-learning-environment-has-great-atmosphere
Pariser, E. (2011, March). Eli Pariser: Beware Online “Filter Bubbles” [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles
Ripp, P. (2013, December 23). So What’s My Problem with Homework? Retrieved August 06, 2016, from https://pernillesripp.com/2010/12/23/so-whats-my-problem-with-homework/
Stumpenhorst, J. (2015, January 20). The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Common Core. Retrieved August 05, 2016, from http://www.regblog.org/2015/01/20/stumpenhorst-ccss-good-bad-ugly