Tuesday Feb 26th – Presenter Dean Shareski

Last night’s Eluminate presentation by Dean Shareski was by far the most worth-while of all of our sessions this far in the course.  I don’t say that to discredit any of the other presenters, only to mention that Dean made some really excellent points that really hit home for me. 

I found the discussion about RSS to be quite thought provoking, especially around the idea that RSS can be used to help deal with our state of information overload.  The more I begin to subscribe, read, and use RSS feeds, the more I am beginning to understand.  For years I have been browsing the Internet seeking out great teaching resources from the plethora of information that exists on the web.  In the end, although I usually find some great resources, I’m often frustrated by a feeling of information overload and chaos.  The Internet is undoubtedly populated with great sources of information, but it is also greatly populated with non-sense.

In the session, Alec posted this great quote ““Faced with information overload, we have no alternative but pattern-recognition” (let me know if you know the source).  I’m beginning to see that a technology like RSS feeds can help us find a sense of order in the chaos.  You can use it to have data come to you – as apposed to going out and searching for it. 

Dean’s got a great video explaining RSS on his blog here: http://shareski.blogspot.com/2005/11/my-rss-talk.html#comments

In this video he explains that he has over 230 sources of news in his reader that brings news to him.  Somebody in the audience asked him how he possibly had the time to seek out so many current resources.  He replied that he didn’t, and that that was the beauty and the power of RSS.  He said that he connected with others, and that most of the work of seeking great resources was done for him by those in his network.

It’s becoming clear to me that using RSS feeds and being part of a network go hand in hand, and that one really needs to join the network – to read others’ blogs, to comment, in order to have the network really work for you.  One of the strongest points that Dean made was the importance of the CommPost ratio.  He mentioned that it is really important to comment more than you post.  Commenting on others’ blogs and wikis is often what brings people back to your blog.  This is how you get the network to truly work at its best.  Comment/Post ratios of 3:1 or 2:1 can be quite effective.

Dean’s 1st point of his ‘5 Big Ideas’ really hit home with me.  He said that it’s important to get past the instinctive and immediate question of “How is this going to help me in the classroom?”  Using RSS feeds, and being part of a network of ‘bloggers is not likely to provide any great immediate benefit to one’s classroom teaching.  This is something that will take some time.  First one will need to put in the work to build the network and create relationships in that network.  This is something that I often find difficult to get past.  I often find myself saying “That is great, but how can that help me?”  I suppose those are good questions to ask as an educator. 

 What I’ve learned from Dean’s presentation is that there is an active responsibility to read and comment when building a network.  This is what allows you to make connections, and to create relationships.  This is what will allow your network to develop, and it is a well developed network with strong relationships that will provide benefits to educators.  Eventually, good resources will come to you.

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3 Responses

  1. And the example of your unique insights is just that excellent example of why building a network is such a vauable experience. Excellent post, and one blog I will continue to keep an eye on…

  2. Dean did have some excellent advice with the big 5 ideas, but I really am starting to believe that we (teachers) just need to have fun with this stuff as opposed to viewing technology as something I have to learn.

  3. Hi,
    Information overload is crushing. We need to rapidly absorb large amount of information without being lost in unnecessary details. What do you think about using text summarization software to access informtain more effectively?

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