The last words uttered by Steve Jobs as revealed earlier this week by his sister, Mona Simpson, were “Oh Wow, Oh Wow, Oh Wow.” For a man who made computer technology personal and mainstream, revolutionizing how we share, process, and filter information; it is hard to imagine he could be amazed by anything. Such is the mystery of death, but those last words from one of the most innovative thinkers of the modern era, reflect more than just the enigma of our existence. They articulate the unfathomable boundaries of possibilities, uplifting me with optimism. I needed this optimism in a week where I found myself attending two separate funerals; a week in which people emailed and posted condolences to the families on Twitter and Facebook. It was a startling example of how technology quickly and efficiently brings people together; not in the cold, dystopian manner depicted by science fiction writers such as Bradbury and Asimov, but in profound, authentic, and real-time connections. At one of the funerals, a close family member unable to travel home participated in the service via the web. And as he contributed to the eulogy from another continent, I thought “Wow” – how the celebration of that life was made the richer for the sharing.
This week Dean Shareski challenged us as educators to consider sharing as a moral imperative, challenging us to ponder “is our best work accessible to everyone?” My friend whose parent had died, told me he did not know anything about Skype or data projectors, but that a simply query on Facebook, a technology he does use, caused a flood of helpful tips: the donation of a data projector and the volunteer services of a “technician”, and a few instructive YouTube videos empowered him. As a result, his brother-in-law could share in the funeral of their mother. A couple of weeks ago, two of the math teachers in my department created a smart board through the use of a Wii remote and IR pen. How were they able to accomplish this? A tutorial on YouTube. For too long, teachers have worked in isolation, sharing only with a small, trusted group of people. However, teaching has changed. It is arguably more difficult; curricula are more extensive, diversity among learners greater, and class sizes larger. If we don’t share, not only don’t we cope, we don’t accomplish our mandate as educators – nurturing learning through sharing and challenging the thoughts and practices of ourselves and others. So, this week I shared. I invited several of my staff members to look at my Blog, a far riskier venture with people you know, work with, and supposedly lead, than muttering to faceless audience on my Blog. I shared the beginnings of my Blog resource which allows them to discover various Web 2.0 tools; I offered to work with an ELA teacher and her students on Blogging; in fact, I created a new Blog for the students of my school to comment on timely issues concerning their curricula, community and world. Over the next few weeks and months, they will blog and I will invite them to tweet responses . I’m thinking of using the hash tag #Veeptweet! We’ll see how it goes. This is an exciting time to be an educator. A world of information is literally in the palm of our hands – and I am at the point of no return! In the words of Steve Jobs, “Oh, Wow! Oh, wow! Oh, Wow!!”