As I prepare to travel for the next few days over Spring Break I had a lingering thought I wanted to share with everyone about “information glut.” In the past week I’ve been following many thoughtful and energizing discussions on the forum, participating in a rather busy conversation on a listserv I’m a member of, and have been catching up on all of blog postings that I subscribe to, but have neglected lately. Needless to say, there have been more than a few moments in the past week in which I’ve felt overwhelmed with the amount of information pouring into my inbox. And I’m what one might consider a featherweight when it comes to blog subscriptions and forum participation. Several similar “I’m falling behind in my information intake” posts have seemed to surface lately and many still recovering from the major Ed Tech conferences are wondering how they’re going to make sense and track all of the information they’ve been inundated with.
Imagine how “average joe” or “jane” teacher is feeling, just new to the concept of blogs and RSS? Or perhaps they haven’t found a use for the tools of the “new” Internet, or are still struggling to use the tools of the “old” Internet. To many teachers, simply finding them time to discover what a blog is, network with peers online, and find sites to use in the classroom, let alone making the time to actually blog must seem like moving the proverbial mountain. Being in a constant “seek and explore” mode for ideas and tools revolving around educational technology, I’ve often felt as if Atlas himself would have a hard time moving the mountain I’ve created for myself. How could one teacher possibly manage to integrate all of their state’s technology standards, provide meaningful technology experiences everyday, get their students using the Internet ethically and resourcefully, plan for successful telelearning activities, and get ready for the school science fair?
If you’re on Spring Break right now, or are preparing for the time off next week and you find yourself experiencing an overload of information, just remember that no matter how much information is coming your way and no matter how much you have yet to accomplish with technology in your classroom, take it slow. The mountain won’t move, no matter how hard you push, but you can surely start with small hills. Pick one lesson plan or one technology-rich idea that you’re personally excited about and stick with it. Forget the fancy student-made movies, recordings, teleconferencing, and e-mail for now. Stick with something small and manageable, like creating a graph online, taking a virtual field trip to Ancient Egypt, or create a community journal on a classroom computer, letting them share their thoughts with each other and Microsoft Word. Eventually the mountain will seem much smaller and the larger projects will become more manageable. At least that’s the way I see it.