This is one of my favorite quotes from Harold and Maude, which is one of my favorite movies. It is from the scene where Maude is showing Harold all of the things she has collected. She is explaining to him that for as much stuff as she has laying around, none of it is essential to her life, that if everything went away, she would still have what is important to her.
The reason why I have been thinking about this quote a lot recently is that this is what I would like to see us adopt as a mantra for every new tool that we encourage someone to take up. For as good as Slideshare or Voicethread are, there is almost no chance that they will be around forever. These things that we have collected and even subscribed to cannot be the basis for what we are trying to do. At least, they cannot be the basis for me.
I would like to say that at the end of the day, anything that I create or collect is not the end all be all of Learning. I would like to be able to say that if you stripped away all of the tools and stuff that I use on a daily basis that I would still have something to stand on. I would still have a purpose in creating change in schools.
So, with that in mind, I am going to be taking a critical look at what I am truly dependent upon for my learning. Do my theories of connected learning still hold up you take away Twitter. Could I still learn if Google Reader was no longer. If WordPress stopped updating and I had to settle for exactly what I have right now, would that be enough to create the types of environments that students and adults need in order to be truly successful learners.
I believe so. I believe that if all of our tools were going to fall flat on their faces tomorrow and the amount of support for them would dry up considerably, we would be able to continue to create change because of what we have learned through the connections we have made.
I think it is because I am coming more and more around to the idea that the truly amazing part of Authentic Learning is not the connection you make with information, the way that you aggregate it or making meaning of it. In fact, the most important part of Learning is the connections that you make with the people: the ones that sustain you and make sure that you have all of the resources you need. It is truly the people that add value in a Personal Learning Network and not the tools.
I know this is nothing revolutionary to say, but it is the first time that I have really felt this to be true. As much as I have denied the tools’ importance, until I figured out that it is the link sent from one person to another or the wonderful compliment paid to a colleague that keeps me going, I never really understood just how my learning worked.
So, if my delicious account were to vanish tomorrow, it is by the power of the people I have connected with that I would be able to piece it back together. That is why I do what I do. That is why I blog and think and connect and try to create change.