Relevance enables professionals to rise above mediocrity. When I go to a professional for advice or service I have certain expectations. If I go to a Doctor I expect that person would be up to date on the latest procedures in their specific area of medicine. If I go to a lawyer, I expect that person is up to date on all of the recent laws that will affect my issue. If I go to an architect, I expect that person is up to date on all of the building codes, new materials and latest methods of construction. If I go to an accountant I expect that person to be up to date on the latest tax implications that will affect my investments.
There are several ways that professionals can keep up with the details of their professions. They may read journals; they may attend workshops; they may network at conferences; they may join and network in professional groups; they may attend lectures; they may give lectures; they may write articles, and some may even choose to write blogs. All of these efforts are taken and are continued long after a degree is earned and a license is secured for that professional’s position. Any profession that relies on ever-changing information must keep up with those changes in order to be effective. I think of this as professional relevance. However, not all professionals employ these methods to maintain relevance. Some professionals see the degree and the license as the means to secure a position and that becomes the final goal. All of the learning and work involved by some professionals was for the sole purpose of attaining that position, and now, with that position secured, the learning and work can ease-up. Taking the easy and comfortable path of non-involvement leads to being mediocre and irrelevant in competitive professions. Of course this is a generality, and there are exceptions.
Literacy has come to mean more than just the ability to read and write. Living on an island I often go to the ocean for metaphors. Watching the ocean every day, one learns how to read it. In order to engage the ocean in some way, one needs to read the conditions to determine how to participate. Body surfing is always a first option, but beyond that choice, there is boogey boarding, skim boarding, surf-boarding, kayaking, or just swimming. Each choice requires different conditions and success depends on the ability to correctly interpret that information. I guess this might be considered ocean literacy. Information about ocean conditions changes on a minute-to-minute basis, so an ocean-literate person must assess and reassess the conditions continually in order to maximize the experience, as well as avoid dangers.
Since Gutenberg evolved information from the scrolls and manuscripts of the dark ages to the media of mass-produced, printed text, the introduction of the digital age has taken us further in information delivery. Accessing, analyzing, understanding, creating and communicating information using the tools of our digital age has become the 21st century literacy. A major drawback to this new literacy is that the tools, or apps (applications) that deliver the information keep evolving, or changing altogether. This requires that in order to stay literate people need to stay relevant.
Now, you may ask, when is he going to mention teachers or education? That takes me to a tweet that I sent out this week. During a recent #Edchat discussion on Twitter, we discussed if class blogs, student blogs, or even teacher blogs have a place in our education system. For those of you who are unaware, #Edchat is a weekly discussion on Twitter which spotlights different topics concerning education, or educators. The discussion was quite informative as many offered their opinions based on personal experiences with blogging in education. I tweeted out something to the effect that it was unfortunate that we could not share this discussion with more educators. When I consider the thousands of educators that I am in direct contact with through social media, I understand that it is only a tiny fractional percentage of all of the educators in the world today. Why are not more educators involved?
I am not saying that all educators need to involve themselves with #Edchat. It is not for everyone, and as all social media tools, its time will pass as it is replaced by some other digital delivery system. That is the nature of using technology. The bigger picture however, is educators’ involvement with any social media as a means to be relevant using the tools of 21st Century, literacy tools.
More important than teaching content is the task of using content to teach learning. The content of those scrolls and manuscripts may still be relevant today, but we do not get that content by unrolling the fragile scrolls and allowing students to approach one at a time to read them. For year’s we counted on the Gutenberg method, using printed text in textbooks. Today and tomorrow however, the new literacy will depend on additional tools. Tools of a digital world will be used more and more to deliver content. Take note of all of the businesses and media programming tagging their ads with Social media icons of Facebook, google and Twitter to contact for added information. Take note of all of the print media icons that have gone away, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report. Blogs are replacing printed media.
As professional educators we do not heal illnesses, advise on the laws, provide blueprints, or arrange investments. We teach others how to learn the very skills needed to accomplish those things in their chosen professions. Professional educators model and teach lifelong learning. How do we as educators stay relevant and literate? Are we reading Blogs, engaging in collaboration with other educators through Social Media,and teaching with tools that our students will need to use in order to be relevant in their world? Or,are we as educators saying to Gutenberg, I like the feel and smell of scrolls and manuscripts, it gives me comfort, so I will stick with them.
This Link from the Educator’s PLN provides a Prezi presentation by Joshua Coupal connecting Bloom’s Taxonomy in Digital terms to combine Relevance and media Literacy in Education: http://edupln.com/video/blooms-digital-taxonomy-prezi
Your comments are welcome.