Since starting my new job in August, I have been anxiously awaiting my space on the web. Our district has committed a server for me to use to set up a collaborative space for teachers. The idea is to have a place that is not only links to resources and information, but a place where teachers can discuss ideas and share best practices. Teachers can upload resources, participate in forums, respond and create polls, reflect using a blog and collaborate with others on projects using a wiki. I know the power of my PLN and I am very excited about the possibilities of fostering the kind of open sharing of ideas and resources that I experience through my online Professional Learning Network.
I am thrilled that we are very near launching this interactive collaboration site. But I am also aware that this is not going to be an easy road. Teachers aren't just going to jump in and start participating in this new and dynamic way of collaborating. There are many reasons for this. The big one is time. I hear it all the time. I don't have time to be "surfing" the web. Another issue will be that the site will only be strong if it is truly a community of learners. If teachers pose a question on a forum and no one responds, they will probably not return. And one last reason that I think that the interactive parts of the site will be a tough sale at first is the fear of sharing. I ran into this issue a few years ago when we suggested that teachers post their story tests online or in a shared drive. I heard from several different buildings that teachers didn't want to share with other buildings because they didn't want to do all the work and then let others just have it. It was really important that this information be locked away and only those who they knew had worked hard to contribute should be able to take part in the sharing.
This idea of hoarding knowledge is part of our culture. It sounds very counter intuitive that teachers would be hoarders of knowledge. But there is perceived power in having exclusive knowledge. An idea that if everyone has the resources and access to the knowledge that they might not be needed.
Will Richardson recently wrote a blog article on just this subject. "The Less You Share, The Less Power You Have". In this era, when it would be so easy for teachers to share and collaborate with each other and not be continually creating the wheel, there is still this culture that doesn't want to share in this way. In part, it is a fear of their material (and hard work and time) being used by someone else and then losing value for themselves. For instance, if you share a great idea with a 2nd grade teacher and they use it in their class, then you, the 3rd grade teacher with the great idea will not be able to use it again in your class. In part also, I think it is a fear of putting themselves out there. When you publish your work, not only can people adopt your ideas and take advantage of your thought and hard work, they can also critisize your work. This is a scary idea for many. This fear of feedback is evident on many levels. I even heard someone ask me if they could disable the comments on their blog because they were afraid how people would comment.
This comment by Jason Levy puts a new spin on the idea that modern sharing is power.
Comment by Jason Levy
I agree that modern sharing is power, but I think it is a non-traditional power.
Power 1.0 was the ability to hoard information, to own the process, to make a killing off of the initial public offering. That bubble busted.
Power 2.0: the power to influence practice, ideas and the world at large through the relentless sharing of tools, methods and insights.
If we really want to change the world, don’t we need to put our best ideals and resources INTO the world?
I love this idea of Power 2.0. The power to influence practice, ideas and the world at large through sharing. I am going to make this the theme of our new teaching and learning site. Power 2.0. The power to make a difference by sharing what you know and think with others.
Flickr photo by http://flickr.com/photos/creativecommons/
A reflection on the Power of Sharing from Langwitches. Pin It Now!