Who do we silence when we “collaborate” and “connect”?
Trust Pam Hook to ask this question.
I recently read a blog post where Pam commented and asked this question.
Those of you who know me, connecting, collaborating, creating and sharing are my ongoing personal teacher inquiry. So much so that I have literally made an online name for myself with doing all this “connect” and “collaborate” online stuff..
Pam asked an interesting question and one that I am sure like me you had never really thought about or really cared about and you have been hell bent on gathering followers or creating virtual communities to have teachers work together because you realise how much of an impact this has on teachers learning.
But if we think about it, who are the teachers who are being silenced by all this online learning ‘stuff.’ I remember in the early days of social media trying to convince teachers to ‘at least read emails’. or saying things like, ‘The information is on the server #DUH.’
And ‘Paper?? What’s that. Give it to me digitally so I can have the option of repurposing what you have created.’
I know the internet is the main form of communication in this 21st Century and who does not have a cell phone? Correct? But it is still a valid question.
We are extremely lucky at my school because we have a strong school leader who has always been forward thinking in her approach. Such as giving the teachers the tools. So we all had an iPad 2 when they first came out and have since been updated and senior teachers were given an iphone with a school plan. She gave us all a chrome to play with because this was a tool we would be using with our children. We can even choose what kind of a TELA we want.
Yet I grew up in a 3rd world nation and I speak to other teachers who do not have the same access to technology or professional learning as what we have at Newmarket School.
I visited 13 countries in 11 weeks and spoke with teachers who many do not have the same opportunities and access that we have here in New Zealand. I visited many teachers whose classes do not have internet access. For teachers in New Zealand I query their access because TELA has been available since 2003 and access to the internet really took off in 2004 when the first waves of schools were snupped. Name a new Zealand teacher who has not been part of an ICTPD contract in the past 10 years. Our Ministry of Education has poured millions of dollars into our digital learning.
So again whose voices are being silenced through connection and collaboration?
I am aware of the challenges that some outlying schools have to access. They do not yet have broadband and are still reliant on dial up. But I believe that if you want access bad enough somehow you can find a path. Even if you pay for access yourself. When I think back to schools that I have been at where I have had to pay for first of all for my own laptop and then my own lease or when when I was an early adopter of technology and bought dial up at phenomenal costs.
Online I notice that my twitter PLN are made up of mostly European educators. I find the Maori and Pasifika Educators appear to gravitate to Facebook. As for Asian educators I talk to them on WeChat. So I guess if I am looking for certain voices then as an educator I must move in the social media that has greater numbers.
When I have run online professional learning for educators I particularly target voices that are often very quiet. I am much more conscious of this then I have ever been because of my work with Pam. Yes using digital communication can silence when we “collaborate” and “connect”.
The ones taking part in connecting and collaborating online can have their voices amplified like being the only ones holding a microphone at a face to face meeting. Yet what about our children who do not yet have access to home broadband because the extra cost is a luxury that is over and above feeding a family? That and even having a device to access communication with. Yes we still have those.
I also think about the work I do with my Samoan colleagues who insist on face to face meetings because, ‘This is the way we work best.’ I encourage digital communication but that is on ongoing journey I have always had. I also find that in the face to face meetings I am the voice being silent. I am used to having my voice amplified with media that sometimes I feel frustration in the noisy face to face meetings. I feel frustration at the speed of getting things done because I am so used to getting things done at super speed using online communication. I am the educator who amplifies our Samoan voices digitally and I do so willingly because I know some can be very quiet online.
My citizenship question to you is the same as Pam’s.
Who do you silence when you “collaborate” and “connect”?
I should have begun with this quote taken straight from Tahu’s Blog Post on Whānaungatanga.
Me hui kanohi ki te kanohi kia rongo i te mauri o te tangata!’ It is important to meet face to face, eye to eye, breath to breath to get a full understanding of the people we are working with.