Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Digital Revolution … Why the Gifted Community Should Be Leading the Way




The digital revolution has been going on for over a decade. Experiencing it first hand, I have been preaching the value of social media (see here and here for starters) in the gifted community since I began this blog in March of 2010.

I live in Pittsburgh, PA. I work with the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented to facilitate communication with vital stakeholders in the gifted community via Global #gtchat on Twitter. My readers here now encompass over 100 countries. My ‘inner circle’ is global.

I began this post in the passenger seat of my car. By its end, I will have used my smartphone, my laptop, a computer, and a printer. I will have searched with Google for information and images;   connected with colleagues via Yahoo mail, gmail and LinkedIn; found inspiration on Twitter; and read articles saved in my dropbox. I am connected 24/7/365. My life experiences enhance my writing and my work online enhances my life.

So … I think it’s about time that the gifted community embraces technology and social media. It needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask why it has taken so long. Dare I say … we should be leading the revolution?

Too often, I hear complaints about how society misunderstands those identified as gifted; or worse yet ~ ignores them. “How do we get the word out?” “Why do politicians fail to recognize the needs of our children?” “Why aren’t there any courses dealing with gifted education being offered to pre-service teachers?” Why ... why …why? Let’s stop the whining and get the word out on social networks! It’s time to stop ‘preaching to the choir’.

Would you like to know what I really think? If not, click that little “x” on the upper right hand corner of your screen, because I’m going to tell you what I think. The world is facing a time of unprecedented financial crisis that has the potential to continue for years. The gifted community and the organizations that serve it are not immune to financial woes. However, how we respond to the crisis is of upmost importance. Social media provides us with the means to spread our message without straining budgets.

Want the world to take notice and support our community? Lead by example! It’s time to put on our ‘critical’ thinking caps … to provide the answer to that age-old question, “If you’re so smart, why don’t you ______?”

Well, for starters, we need to create rich resources of great information; reach out to more stakeholders … in this case, parents … cultivate relationships and extend the conversation with like-minded groups; engage the outliers! It’s time to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. It must be done in such a way as to be economically feasible for all involved.

Some practical solutions would be for conference organizers to realize that not everyone who would benefit from the conference will be able to attend in person. Providing low cost alternatives such as continuous Twitter-feeds of sessions and videos of the proceedings after the conference for a small fee will engage thousands more and provide additional revenue to cover conference costs. Parent groups should consider using Skype to reduce the cost of bringing in presenters to their meetings. State, national, and international organizations should cooperate to share resources online and provide a wider range of content for their members. The possibilities are endless.

Will we be leaders or followers? Game-changers or complainers? Dreamers or doers? It has never been easier to collaborate within the global gifted community. Get involved and make a difference. Be a leader in the digital revolution!

11 comments:

  1. I agree very strongly, Lisa. The cost of conferences and the travel distances make it impossible for many people who should hear the information to attend.
    And in many cases conference proceedings and presentations are only made available to members even when posted on the web.
    The value of the information shared at the conferences is greatly diminished by not being made available.

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    1. "The value of the information shared at the conferences is greatly diminished by not being made available." I couldn't have said it better myself! You rock!

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  2. Hi Lisa ... your post inspired me to write a response titled, The Boots-on-the-Ground Battle for Gifted Education, on the Prufrock Press blog. I agreed with so much of what you said, but I felt there was a missing sentiment. I believe our focus should be on creating radically engaged local parent groups to pressure schools to offer quality gifted education programs. I don't think that spending our time engaging with "outliers" is where our focus should be.

    Anyway, I wanted to thank you for the valuable post and allowing me to use it as a catalyst for my own thinking. Thank you for your good work.

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    1. Joel ~ I respect your right to disagree, however I think our views are closer than your post implies. I believe that both boots on the ground and social media engagement have complimentary roles to play in gifted advocacy. Personal experience is a great influencer in how we approach any form of advocacy. Having started a strong and influential parent group in my school district, attended school board meetings week after week, presented to our local school board, participated on 2 gifted advisory panels and met f2f with district administrators, I can appreciate the fact that not all parents have the luxury of time and resources to always pursue this route.
      For clarification, this is a blog directed to parents. The 'outliers' I referred to are parents who are not engaged in the ground battle.

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  3. I just posted on this very thing and gave some general tips on how to advocate on social media :) http://www.livingthelifefantastic.com/2012/07/using-social-media-to-advocate-for-the-gifted/

    Social media is a tool that absolutely can make a difference.

    I did a session last week, at the SENG conference, on signing up for Twitter, and how to use it to follow the conference. There wasn't much Twitter involvement from those attending the SENG conference last week. I hope we can change that for next year.

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    1. Thanks, Karla. I thought your blog post was excellent. I agree that Twitter will play an increasing part in gifted advocacy. The world is a different place and traditional efforts need to be reassessed in light of the role of social media. Without realizing beforehand, I could have guessed you were from Alabama as your efforts and success there to sway your governor's opinion of gifted education via sm were in part an impetus for writing this post. I look forward to working with you , side-by-side as it were, within the realm of social media. Who knows? We may even meet one day!

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  4. By the way -- the hashtag to look for on Twitter was/is #SENG12, if you want to go back and look over it.

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  5. Also consider virtual learning opportunities, such as NAGC's Webinars on Wednesdays (WOW). We have a FREE parents WOW this Wednesday, July 25, 7-8:00 PM EST. www.nagc.org/wow.aspx

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I did attend the webinar - thanks for the heads up - and have in the past. I appreciate the NAGC's efforts to connect with and make parents a priority. You have also extended opportunities for those who could not attend your conferences to access content later. It is my hope that more organizations will follow your lead.

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  6. Lisa, Learned of your excellent work from Jo Henderson in Boise (EduFest) last week. What resonates with me from this post is the need to provide "rich resources of great information," as those found within authentic problematic situations where our students can commence an inquiry process and see it through to logical, reasoned conclusions. Have seen such with STEM, problem/inquiry based instruction at most levels of education. My own best experience centered about Antarctic exploration at age thirteen.

    John Barell
    jbarell@nyc.rr.com
    www.morecuriousminds.com
    http://www.morecuriousminds.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment, John. I met Jo Henderson online and learned about Edufest from her! It is a fantastic conference that doesn't get as much recognition as it should. I hope to do a better job of 'spreading the word' in the future. They had some great speakers this year.
      I couldn't agree more that problem/inquiry-based instruction has a strong role to play in 21st century education.

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