Escaping the Echo Chamber

I can’t think of a better person to finish our Diffusion of Innovations than Mary-Beth Hertz. She is tremendously supportive of other educators and is one of the weekly moderators of #edchat. In addition, she helped put together Ed Camp Philly, one of the best PD experiences in recent memory. Thank you so much for helping out.

Thanks, Jason, for giving me the opportunity to guest post here. I thank you for being so patient!  Best wishes for your new baby and your new job!

The title of this post reflects many of the conversations I have had on Twitter and with my colleagues face to face.  As I mentioned in a recent blog post, I tend to find myself surrounded by people who are smart, dedicated and who challenge me to think deeply and reflect. This has, in my opinion, made me a better teacher and a better person in general.

However, while my colleagues challenge me, we tend to agree on most levels.  We discuss tech integration, education reform, homework, student motivation and we share Web 2.0 tools and projects amongst ourselves, but these conversations rarely leave our small circle. We often say that we are stuck in an echo chamber.

So how do we open the chamber up?

Without repeating too much of what my friends and colleagues Kyle Pace and Steven Anderson have already said on their posts on this blog, here are some suggestions.

  • Find a colleague who seems open to new things: Even if it’s only one colleague, you can open someone’s mind to new ideas and strike up a conversation.
  • Share: Not only share links, articles, ideas and viewpoints, but share lessons, resources and feedback. Model the “what’s mine is yours” mantra and give, give, give.
  • Don’t keep quiet: When you have an idea, say it. When you see a problem, mention it. When you see something amazing, praise it. When you think you’ve got something really exciting going on in your classroom, drag an administrator in to see it.
  • Be a model for what you believe teaching and learning should look and sound like: The best way to share what you have learned or show a new method or approach is to model it in your own classroom and share it with your colleagues by inviting them in or discussing it with them.
  • Keep the conversation going in the Echo Chamber: You need this conversation for support and to hash out your ideas with people who understand your perspective.

While we’d all love to open the flood gates and immerse our colleagues in the fire hose of Twitter, blogs, online communities and innovative conferences we attend, the reality is that we have to open the gate slowly and at the right times.  We also need to be patient. Change, at least meaningful change, is a slow and deliberate process.

  • http://DrDougGreen.Com Douglas W. Green, EdD

    The book you need to read, or may have read, is called “Diffusion of Innovations” by Rogers. It is in it 5th edition and deals with the subject across disciplines. If you would like to read a summary let me know.
    Best,
    Doug Green

  • http://jasontbedell.com Jason Bedell

    Dr. Green,
    I actually read Rogers book in grad school. He presents some interesting strategies and case studies. I started the series as a way to take his ideas and have talented people apply them specifically to diffusing the innovations of technology and pedagogical innovation. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Mary Beth Hertz

    Thanks for the recommendation, both of you. Somewhere in my free time (ha ha) I will definitely have to pick up the book!