Is that work? Or are you wasting time on the internet?

There are two places to be – immersed in Read/Write worlds and not. And never the twain shall understand each other. There are some things that cannot be explained theoretically.

Today a friend of mine, who is extremely intelligent and wise (I’m stressing this to support a point that’s coming) said to me in all earnestness that she never wanted to blog, didn’t see the point of it, and thought that a few years down the track, people would look back at blogging and say big deal. I’m paraphrasing loosely here. I told her that she didn’t get it because she didn’t do it. And that the only way she would understand it was if she did it. The same goes for other forms of online social networking and learning.

Now this friend, as I’ve already mentioned, is intelligent and wise, an extremely experienced and competent educator, and committed to her role as teacher librarian. So what keeps her in that other place when many of us have moved to the new improved place? And what will it take to give these gentiles an understanding of the transformative nature of the interactive, connected online world? Is it like convincing non-believers that Jesus actually walked on water? (I’m hearing you already, non-believers).

Following this discussion, another friend in the same business asked me if I had read many fiction books lately, and I said not many because there was so much to read and respond to online. Her brow furrowed, and with genuine confusion, she asked what was there online that took up so much of my time. Was it work?

Now here’s another prickly subject for me. Is it work when I spend most of my evening on the internet? Some of it is, and directly related to my job as teacher librarian, but much of it is self-directed reading and responding to the overwhelming mass of wonderful ideas, discussions and resources that are shared. A hollow and static concept – ‘work’. Do you mean, is it something that will be useful in your teaching and supporting role to teachers and students? Then, yes, it is. It’s that and so much more. It’s discovering gold mines many times a day, connecting with people and their knowledge and expertise, giving and receiving ideas, and surprising yourself with the ideas that are expressed by you – ideas you never thought you had, ideas you may never have known you had, if it weren’t for the blog or the comment box. If we’re going to justify the hours we spend online, then we must acknowledge once and for all that what we’re doing is valuable. It’s an ongoing learning process that feeds us so that we can feed our students and school community.

We don’t want to dry out. We must dry out if we don’t water. Networking feeds us, connects us to great minds and wonderful people from so many places. It’s not about the technology, it’s about people.

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14 Comments

Filed under Education, Teacher librarians, Web 2.0

14 responses to “Is that work? Or are you wasting time on the internet?

  1. Wasting time on the Internet? Good question. We know many of our students are on the Net. Do they say it’s wasted time on social networking sites? Then there is gaming, second life, commercial sites… Hours and hours…

    Are bloggers different? We like to think that what we are doing is vital. We do meet some interesting people worldwide, we share our similar interests, we get to express meaningful thoughts that are rushing to the surface…and ultimately we hope that some students will find themselves truly engaged here expressing their own genuine thoughts as we are.

  2. Paul, thanks for your comment. To answer your question: are bloggers different? I think there’s a difference between kids’ social networking and educators’ social networking. Obviously, the former is good for connecting and sharing, feeling part of a community, having a face, but the latter adds the dimension of pedagogical thought. Usually.
    Don’t you think?

  3. WinsonGreen

    Perhaps they will look at blogging in that way Tania, but only because there’s a new and improved way to blog! Look at how interactive the internet has become over the past few years. It won’t take too long for things to change and extend, but we will never go back to the one to one. A lot of what you on the net is exploring, and you share what you find. My vote is that it’s work. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Karen

  4. Karen, you have answered correctly! 10 out of 10!

  5. Hi Tania.
    Good question! My husband assumes I’m “working” whenever I’m on the internet, but although it usually informs my practice and informs me professionally, is it actually working?

    And you’re right – those who don’t do it don’t get it.

  6. Whether or not it’s ‘work’, you’re on a good thing there with your husband. Thanks for your comment. Maybe the internet can be for us what the newspaper used to be for the stereotypical husband (ie. hiding from his wife behind his newspaper).

  7. Rhondda

    All professionals need to constantly keep up-to-date with what is happening in their profession, reading about it, arguing about the directions, practising the new skills/competencies. A major part of the world of the teacher librarians and librarians is about information. Understanding how to find the “best” of it, how to organise it, how to make sure the right people can connect to it. On-line is part of the information world today, the major part. Being on-line, exploring and generally being part of that world is work. It however does not exclude enjoying what you are doing. We constantly try to make learning enjoyable/engaging for our students, so we are allowed to do that for ourselves too.

  8. Hear, hear. Just try convincing the rest of the world. And it’s interesting you should bring guilt-free enjoyment into this – when we do enjoy our work, and we do enjoy our teaching, then so will the students! If I’m bored as a teacher, you can bet that the students are too. My teaching motto has always been to enjoy myself.

  9. Tania, you could be describing me! Over the past few months I have found myself more and more preferring to be on the net, checking my google reader, following twitter, reading and exploring online in preference to reading books or watching tv. I don’t really consider it work but it clearly is informing my practice as a TL and was crucial in my attaining my new ICT leader role. I wouldn’t spend my evenings doing this if I didn’t enjoy it and I totally agree with you that it is about the people, not the technology, although I’ve got to say I love this technology that makes connecting with people so easy.

  10. I’m staggered that I’m embracing technology, having always had a technology disability, so it must be about the people. I don’t even watch TV anymore, but must do some more reading. Sometimes, though, I think I need a dose of outside – just the tactile, the olfactory, to remind me that I’m human and living in the natural world.

  11. I love this post. I have heard so many people tell me they will never blog and don’t understand it. It is so true, something you just can’t understand until you do it.

    I love this quote:
    “We don’t want to dry out. We must dry out if we don’t water. Networking feeds us, connects us to great minds and wonderful people from so many places. It’s not about the technology, it’s about people.”

    I’ve been writing a lot about the network lately. Great metaphor, you really nailed it.
    -Liz

  12. jennylu

    Yes it’s work. My learning has catapaulted since I jumped into the waters of Web 2.0. My experiences have moved me forward, moved (some) of my colleagues forward and they’ve moved my students forward. How can that not be equated to work. Hard to convince others, as you say.

  13. When you step out of Plato’s cave, you can’t help but explore the world-(wide-web:-)

    I spend way too much time online, AND it is work AND it is something I want to do… something I value.

    It is great how you brought it down to people! I would be here so much less without the network of people that I have developed… that have sent me here to read and reflect, and now share. But more than just people, these are co-learners who are sharing in a learning experience that far exceeds what any school has ever done for me.

    I am connecting with a lot of people, but I’m here for the love of learning.

  14. Thanks so much for your great comments, Liz, Jenny and Dave! Feedback is what makes blogging really satisfying.
    Liz, great to have stuff appreciated! I’ll look you up.
    Jenny, you’re a wonderful example of what online participation does to personal and professional development.
    Dave, I had to look up Plato’s cave; thanks for that reference. You’re right: it’s about connecting with the people for the love of learning. And if learning takes place outside of ‘the school’ for us, why can’t it for the kids (ie. bring the outside world in, as well as connect the kids to ‘followable’ people.

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