There isn't a train I wouldn't take, no matter where it's going - Edna St Vincent Millay
Laura Pearle's post "A-flutter about Twitter?" on the AASL blog struck a chord with me as I read it last evening. She writes
I'm trying to provide a good program for my students. I'm trying to create passionate learners, independent thinkers and be a partner with my teachers in curriculum. I've got to consider budgets and previewing books and websites and databases for student and faculty use. I don't have all the staffing I could want (or use). There are standards and testing that I need to support. Our website could use an overhaul, not to mention our A/V equipment (which I'm responsible for maintaining). And let's not forget all the union/district/school meetings and professional development/in-services I need to attend. At the same time, I'm reading blogs and e-lists to connect with other librarians, and reading professional literature.
And then I'm supposed to Twitter and set up IM reference and create a MySpace page and be a real Friendster (or is it Facebook?) and Furl and... and... and...
The problem is that many of us are trying very hard to keep up, but technology expands while time seems to contract.
and cites a great post by Kathy Sierra about how new technologies like Twitter decrease time between interruptions.
Most of us can identify with Laura and Kathy. A new technology or two seems to pop-up almost on a daily basis. I know it is my job to keep up with all this and to figure out how it might benefit my students and teachers. But just how possible is it to keep up with everything?
I find myself practicing "application triage" more and more. I look at the same factors I identified seven years ago in a column named after the opening quote when reviewing a new application:
And I tend to move through three stages as I work with a new program: 1) Awareness and understanding, 2) Personal application, and 3) Educational application. I will stop considering a new application at any one of these stages - I have to to survive.
Ning hasn't even got to stage one yet - I don't understand it clearly. Twitter did not made it past stage one - it sounds dreadful. And Second Life is in stage two - I'm practicing and looking for ways I might actually put this program to use.
I spent a significant amount of time in Second Life over the weekend. Thanks to the patience and generosity of Kathy Schrock (fast becoming a Second Life guru) and Kevin Jarrett I now have a home (be it ever so humble) in this virtual world. Drop by anytime. I changed my hairstyle (from an accidental mullet), adopted a new skin color, and bought a pet mouse (rat?) who rides on my shoulder. Learned to make objects and create a SLURL. My walking is getting better but I have to work on my landings.
I also have a better understanding of the world's educational offerings thanks to a great tour conducted by Ryan (Existential Paine) Bretag on Saturday morning. We visited libraries and classrooms and even had a chance to visit with a "real" instructor using Second Life as a classroom.
I haven't quite yet figured out how to actually put Second Life to use professionally. It's very engaging, even addictive, but right now it doesn't really pass my 1. Simplicity, 2. Ubiquity, 3. Reliability, 4. Usability 5. Affordability tests of promoting it to my teachers. But then, it will improve, I'm sure, and it will be interesting to follow its use by educational pioneers.
Application triage - give it a try...