Last night, we hosted a long-overdue barbeque, and when my friend Monika called to ask if she could bring a guest along, of course I said she was more than welcome to. I’m so glad that I did! While the girls played basketball and my husband played chef, I got to hang out with this woman, who just happens to be a coordinator of the National Writing Project. Most recently, she helped to plan and organize their Web Presence conference, and as we began chatting, I realized that she’s following about half of the same people that I follow on Twitter. It’s always exciting to bump into those who have common interests, particularly when you find them right in your own backyard.
“The edublogosphere seems like it’s huge,” she smiled, “but I don’t think it is.”
I must admit: there seems to be about six degrees of separation (or less) on the net as well. This realization led to a conversation about the web and how it truly has leveled hierarchies that once separated expert voices from those that belong to novices. Nicki commented on the approachability that even the most well-known and highly regarded writers and educators exhibit online, and I echoed her sentiments completely. Networked learning is a phenomenal thing. Sit and get is done and over.
So much of this has to do with role of authorship as well. The internet is changing what it means to be published. It’s also changing the process of writing in dramatic ways as well. This is what I’ve been thinking of often lately. Writing is no longer simply about the author’s individual purpose, and reading is no longer a sit and get proposition either. Blogging alone has changed that entire dynamic. The audience plays a role in informing what writer’s think and do and say. When people comment and create their own posts in response to what we’ve blogged about, it shapes our purposes and adds dimension to our original message. All of this has tremendous implications for classroom instruction and what we truly need to be teaching our students about what it means to “be a writer.”
As a teacher of writing, these new realities are leaving me with much to think about lately. It’s a whole new world.