It’s back-to-school time across Canada, that annual phenomenon that signals the transition from a more relaxed sense of time and routine, to something a little more disciplined, regular and, in most Canadian locales, a little cooler. Even if you don’t have children in the formal school system, media coverage of the usual back-to-school issues remind us of the approaching change of season: dressing your children for the first day of school, healthy lunches, first day anxiety, transitions between various levels of system and how best to communicate with your child’s teacher. Recently, new threads have been woven into the back-to-school narrative: the use of social media, online learning and managing the stress of overscheduled parents and children.
But, once the annual flurry of media attention to schools during this highly energized season of return settles down, I always find myself being more than a little disappointed when I realize that these public conversations about school change haven’t appeared to have broken any new ground. To be sure, the blogosphere and the expanding social media landscape is growing in terms of the number of teachers, administrators, parents and community members who have become dedicated to pushing the edges on the educational discourse in this country, but many of these conversations remain hidden from wide public view. I can’t help but think that the time is ripe for a spirit of convergence between traditional media and the growing world of web-based publishing!
Could it be time for mainstream to meet Twitter stream?
Imagine what might happen if:
- our local and national newspapers included a permanent Education link on their front page menu banners;
- in addition to articles written by staff reporters and feature authors, a blogroll of web-based content was available in the sidebars of online newspapers;
- selected blog content were regularly aggregated into the body of online news sites;
- a live Twitter feed of education-related content became part of mainstream news sources;
- a portal to relevant educational research was available in traditional online news sources;
- a bookshelf of education-related books were included and discussed on a regular basis.
In short, imagine what might happen if we were able to create a type of discursive confluence where the main stream” of educational narrative across Canada could be fed and refreshed by the newer social media streams (and tributaries) that are forming in other places on the web.
I believe that gradually (albeit, slowly) we might begin to see a change in the types of conversations that take place in the public spaces around the country about schooling, education, teaching and learning.
You know something? If we got started now, we might be able to see some of that change in time for next year’s back-to-school season!
Next: Just what might those deeper questions be?