The Wisdom of Crowds or Chaos Theory?

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David Warlick is a swell guy and one heck of a programmer. I read his blog regularly. Tw recent blog posts caught my eye.

David Warlick recently wrote the following in his blog:

Mostly, I’m catching up on e-mail and preparing for a keynote I’ll be delivering at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Conference in State College on Monday. Don’t ask me to explain — by I’m really struggling over what to talk about.

In June, David Warlick blogged about his forthcoming featured presentation at NECC.

The session description reads:

Description: The world is flattening, and not just economically. Learn about three converging conditions that are redefining education?and providing windows to the future. In this presentation, I will seek to examine and factor together three foundational disruptive conditions that are converging on our schools, each serving to disrupt schooling as we know it, yet also providing direction as we work toward new models for teaching and learning — Learning 2.0.

Warlick then goes on to ask the blogosphere to tell him what those “fundamental disruptive conditions” happen to be.

Am I missing something? Is David being humble or are conferences booking major speakers lacking the preparation or expertise required to educate and inspire the audience?

Comments

6 Responses to “The Wisdom of Crowds or Chaos Theory?”
  1. John Hendron says:

    Gary,

    This post reminds me of someone I know more personally than David. She publicly told us on her blog she was assigned a new course for pre-service teachers and she was looking forward to it.

    Next, she outlined several tools she wanted to use, the most daring (you might say), blogs.

    Then she lamented on how she wasn’t really sure on how to teach a class using all of these Web 2.0 tools. My memory hazes at this point, but I think she asked for some advice. The class started in 4 weeks.

    There’s something to be said for the candor and transparency one can deliver through an open, online medium like the blog. But these aren’t the first (nor sadly the last) that detail what are easily drawn to believe is unprofessionalism.

    The philosopher in me wonders if the unprofessionalism is admitting in public that you’re unprepared for a job you’ve been hired for — or — just being unprepared for the job.

    I wish David well on his upcoming speaking engagement. He’ll talk to an audience that likely hasn’t heard his message(s) before.

  2. Cory Plough says:

    I would imagine he was just being humble. Sort of. He seems to have been involving his PLN to help him shape the discourse. Since we want our education leaders to always be learning, would have to lean more towards Wisdom of Crowds on this one.

    It brings up a point I think is a little ironic.

    I was in an online conference today about Web 2.0 and found myself challenging people about sounding off in the echo chamber. In fact, a person said “feeling like Gary Stager tonight are we?” or something to that almost exact effect.

    It really got me thinking about conferences, enough to write a post about something I called Plus 1.

    If we really want to get education to change, we need to involve the people who disagree with us or who don’t know much about the ideas we treasure. One way to do that would to make it a rule this year that we have to convince one other educator (plus 1) to register for a conference we are interested in attending.

    The trick is, the educator can’t be an avid supporter. If I believe in the power of our societal shift and my vision of education, I would at the very least be willing to work hard to convince that non-believing educator to go with me. At the very most would be willing to give up my seat to that conference if money was an issue. So, get one to go, or give up your seat in order to spread ideas I believe in.

    Since this post is about conferences, and I’m thinking about conferences, thought I would throw that out there. 🙂

  3. Jennifer says:

    When I first read your blog post, I got angry — very angry…..because I thought you were taking a very cheap shot at someone respected so much by so many.

    So I walked away……

    and came back this morning with a different viewpoint of perhaps what point you were trying to make.

    First of all, David was and is humble. That is a given.

    But, unfortunately, I would have to agree that the last conferences I have gone to have picked keynotes and session leaders who might be “Knowns” but nothing more than that. Perhaps to drive the #’s up for attendance? Perhaps for bragging rights of who is speaking? Not sure.

    I have no doubt in my mind that I will learn from David Warlick — all the time.

    I think we (who speak at conferences) have the responsibility to our audience to stay current with content and not have a static “one presentation show” in our pocket. I highly respect someone who I can hear more than once and has changed slides, content, and I learn all the time.

    I think we (who attend conferences) need to speak up more on who is chosen to share and be vocal (both on blogs and to the committee) if someone did not deliver quality content.

    Thank you for making me walk away and think. Thank you for offering us the opportunity to share our thoughts with you.

    JWagner

  4. Charles Nelson says:

    On the music conference, I could venture a guess that he wasn’t sure how to tie in what he knows and does into the field of music in a way that those present would easily see the application in their fields. On the second one, it sounds as if he knows what he plans to say but is curious about what others might think. Of course, you could always just ask him to see what he was thinking.

  5. David Warlick says:

    First, thanks for the complements. I continue to believe that you and I are much more in line on our philosophies than might be apparent from our online conversations. But these challenges are a good thing, because, like everyone who raves about your presentations says, “Gary Stager makes me think!”

    You make me question what I’m doing, and I think that questioning what you do is very professional. One thing that I’m fairly certain about, is that a crucial characterstic of any educator today is that they are always learning — and this includes keynote speakers 😉

    If, in openly questioning what I’m presenting and seeking insights from other educators, I am revealing that I am constantly trying to learn, then I consider that very professional — perhaps not in the traditional sense. But, well, that’s me.

  6. john hendron says:

    Mr. Stager pointed out Mr. Warlick in his example, but so that this isn’t terribly personal, let’s use my own example: the college lecturer who was asking on her blog how to teach a technology course for emerging educators.

    I think many folks would note a difference between a) asking her colleagues, or b) experts in her field on some “preferred methods” of integrating the use of Web 2.0 tools in a college course. I agree with the sentiments thus far, that we’re all lifelong learners, and as much as we may have to share, we likewise have more to learn.

    But I make the assumption that that teacher has a level of expertise I don’t have. After all, money is exchanging hands here. Would you hire an English teacher who knew how to write, but wasn’t precisely sure how to actually teach 9th graders… English?

    We carry expectations walking into the classroom – that that person has expertise, content knowledge. They may also have pedagogical expertise to build our own knowledge in a more constructivist sense. In other words, we assume that person has qualifications.

    Now, let’s assume this teacher starts a blog to network with other teachers, or joins a social network. They share “teacher stories” and share plans, strategies, etc. That environment, explicit or not, denotes a community of folks going after the same thing: teaching advice.

    I respect David and I have heard him enough times to recommend his message to others. But his blog is what I term a professional blog: he’s sharing things of interest to his “clients,” those folks that go to hear him speak. He’s always been democratic and opens his WIKI to other commenters. Great. He shares, and invites you to share.

    But in the context of his blog and not a community of teachers, the questioning of what he might share, or what he might share with music educators… it seems different. I come to “2 cents worth” with different expectations. Maybe Gary does too?

    Now, I think my own expectations would have been different… if it went like this…

    “I’m interested in learning from readers how they use various technologies with music – either to enjoy it, express it, or teach it… What are some innovative ways you guys are using technology to enjoy or learn about music?”

    The focus has changed here a bit. I could hear how the keynote might go… “I heard from so many educators who find the use of technology in their teaching pursuits paramount to their success… let me share with you what’s going on…”

    I’m not in the business of speaking publicly… as a professional speaker. But if I was a music teacher, and they assigned me a class to teach — in English — would I just try, and get help? Or would I say, “I’m really not qualified!”

    So for the record, I’m not against polling the crowds for their ideas or expertise. But I caution those of you out there in this position to consider the perception of others, with their expectations of who you are – the expert or the guru.