Sunday, March 04, 2007

Responsive Content

I think we all have our “gurus” – our trusted sources who have information that we need or want or will be able to inform us about new ideas, thoughts, concepts. In 1998, as I was beginning my present position in the technology department, we had a “guru” that we talked about a lot as we developed our plans to implement the use of technology in our classrooms. We were paying attention to one guru in particular because he was encouraging us to think in different ways about how we were going to approach this change that was about to happen in our schools. We needed to read and grapple with new thoughts and ideas about how to help teacher learn these new tools and how to implement them successfully. There weren’t that many people around who were doing that in 1998 so we studied the ideas that we found carefully.

Later, our guru turned to the Internet to publish his ideas and we read more - but they were simply ideas on a page. They weren't the kinds of "living" documents that we have today. And, as time went on, we managed to find our way through our previous confusion and questions and, though the writing was still inspiring, we were developing our own ideas and asking new questions.

As time went on, we found new “gurus” who were writing about technology in the classroom and they were asking newer, more important questions. They were reaching beyond classroom research, classroom experiences and into the business world and the creative world for answers. We don’t talk much about our first guru anymore. Today, I’m thinking about why that is.

Our first guru, while publishing his ideas on the Internet, differs in one important way from our newer gurus - and that was in the use of interactive tools that allow for the exchange and working of ideas. In a blog recently, someone used the term “responsive content.” That’s really a very powerful term. The first guru isn't publishing “responsive content.” If you can’t comment on ideas, edit to update or improve on ideas, or know right away when new writings have been published – you can’t respond in a way that adds value to that work or to your own understandings.

This notion of “responsive content” is powerful, not only for our students, but for our teachers as well. Collaboration among students, collaboration among teachers must have “responsive content” in order to be valuable to us. It’s that ability to respond to each other in such a way that we can add value to the ideas of others or to our own content as a product of interacting with others that makes the tools we have today so important in our work as educators.

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