There is so much to be said for the beginner who is willing to share. Over the last month, various teachers have asked me to help them take their first steps toward blogging, using wikis, building a personal learning network on Twitter, annotating the findings from their formative assesment processes, and using the 6+1 Traits of Writing. Each time I’m asked to share what I know about any of these processes, I’m tempted to direct people toward the experts and the “power users” in the field, and I do, to an extent. Doing so is not always as useful as I hope it will be. Fact is, I’ve found that pointing beginners toward the work of other beginners is far more helpful in the end.
Beginners are inspired by the experts, to be certain. Gaining exposure to the potential that any tool or practice possesses is exciting and motivating. Getting started calls for different models though, and often, I find myself connecting beginners together and referring to their expertise often. If someone hasn’t used a wiki before, showing them how other beginners are making use of the tool is proving to be far more practical than directing them to what experienced users have done. This can be overwhelming at times, and in the end, beginners need only define a purpose and take some very small first steps. Other beginners who are willing to share their processes and the evolution of all that is produced are incredibly valuable.