Grant Wiggins on Escaping Isolation and the Power of Social Media

Grant Wiggins on the power of Twitter:

What social media and similar forums do is solve one of the great shortcomings of traditional education: isolation and ignorance of ‘best practice’.”

I’ve previously blogged about crowdsourcing as a leadership tool, as well as presented to new teachers at a Beginning Teacher Institute and aspiring independent school heads, on the power of social networks and setting up a PLN. What Wiggins – and I – are still frustrated by is the reluctance of many educators to take this plunge. He writes:

Now I am stunned when I encounter teachers – some of them half my age – who don’t get that isolation is dumb and ignorance is unnecessary. You don’t need anything fancier than Google and Twitter to find something cool and useful for every challenge you face.

The argument I hear most often against doing this is the lack of time. My response is simple: getting connected with other educators via Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, requires no more than 15-20 minutes of your time every day, and best of all, it’s free and on-demand! I’ve used Twitter to get feedback on assessments, Math programs, professional development opportunities, 1:1 iPad initiatives, transitioning students from K to 1st grade, and many more.

The traditional educator who still prefers, in Wiggins’s words, “isolation and the comfort of habit” risks stagnation and recycling the same unit year after year because it worked well years ago. Wiggins speaks from personal experience:

As a coach I learned decades ago that the public nature of what I did was in everyone’s best interest, including (especially) mine.

So how do we move the ball forward and break down any barriers to adoption? How do we, as educators, live the values of collaboration and reflective practice that we so desperately want to see in our students?

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