This week we are experimenting with a different format for the post. Follow this link for the slideshow.
The Tipping Point: Diffusion from a community approachThe ideas behind Elements of Diffusion are very similar to the ideas behind Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. (while that link takes you to the book on google, you can read about the book in Gladwell’s blog). In the Peruvian Village, it is suggested that Nelida’s attempt to diffuse the technology of water boiling failed because she only focused on those similar to her, or social outcasts. She did not target influential members of the village. This is very closely related to Gladwell’s first rule of successful epidemics, which suggests that tipping points , which are very much a part of diffusion and innovation , rely on certain types of people to make them successful: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. When Rogers suggests that Nelida would have been more successful if she had target influential village members, which he calls village opinion leaders, who could activate networks to spread the message, he is very much talking about the same three types of people that Gladwell says are important.A case of note, from Gladwell’s book, which shows the difference that targeting the right people can make: We’ve all heard of Paul Revere and know that he warned John Hancock and Samuel Adams of the approaching British Army. But fewer people are familiar with William Dawes. Dawes was the other rider sent with Revere that night. According to Gladwell, Revere, a Connector, notified influential members of the communities on his route; Dawes, like Nelida, employed a less effective approach by notifying many people but not many influential people. Clearly, the lesson is that spreading the word, or an innovation, is more dependent on the types of people you know in the community than what you know or how good the innovation is. I experience this every summer at my summer camp; key staff members or campers rise emerge, and any successful movement through the camp usually gathers speed and momentum once it reaches these people. The key, though, is that these community leaders don’t have to just receive the information; they have to buy into it! Cole is pretty passionate about the potential benefits and opportunities that arise from using blogs, podcasts, and other web 2.0 technologies in educational environments. Penn State supports him, or else I imagine he wouldn’t have his job and the resources to put together the many projects he is behind. I have bought in whole-heartedly and feel lucky to be involved in the early part of this movement. My impression, however, is that this innovation and its possibilities has yet to spread through the rest of PSU. Is Cole targeting the right people: PSU’s version of influential village members, and its Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen? Will Cole be Paul Revere, or William Dawes?
Having just finished Roger’s “Elements of Diffusion,” I decided to revisit The Cluetrain Manifesto (Punching Care Bears and Cluetrain Eats Soggy Cheerios). Rogers points out that innovations typically don’t happen quickly, regardless of how great the innovation is. Cluetrain’s authors, however, passionately make the argument that there is a revolution in the air and the market is changing due to innovations in the internet and its affect on hierarchies between and within markets and audiences.I guess I am wondering why Cluetrain’s authors felt the change would happen so powerfully, and how quick was the diffusion of the innovative use of the internet in the market — be it business, classrooms, or other educational environments. Today’s world and communities are designed around instant gratification. Food can be prepared and consumed in seconds through fast food and microwaves.Trivial information is immediately accessible, thanks to Google, Wikipedia, and smart phones like the iPhone. TV shows, music, and movies are seconds away thanks to iTunes and Zune, for the two people in the world who use it. Communication with a friend has progressed from a handwritten letter delivered by pony to delivery by truck to telegraph to telephone to answering machines to cell phones and email to text messages and twitter (still not buying into it). What took as long as weeks to deliver via pony express now takes seconds thanks to texting and twitter. Your network is always instantly accessible; you don’t even have to wait for them to return home to hear your message! Even coaches in sports are expected to win NOW!If instant gratification is so much a part of our culture’s design, it is easy to understand the immediacy and passion behind The Cluetrain Manifesto. But is accurate or reflective of the way innovation works? Is there a way to change this design, or is it even necessary?I intend to post this now. It frustrates me when my internet connection takes 4 seconds to do so!
For those of you that don’t know, Cole was recently in San Antonio, TX for the Educause Learning Initiative (ELI 2008). Sounds like an amazing conference, maybe I will be able to go someday. Anyway, one of the speakers was Michael Wesch, the creator of the Web 2.0 video you watched the first week. I thought you might be interested in seeing him talk about his ideas and what he sees as the implications of a Web 2.0 world for his teaching. Here is the link. There are other good talks for you to take a peek at, in particular, Henry Jenkins is a well known media scholar from MIT, and there is a talk about the Horizon Report.
I have to admit as a person that was a classroom teacher K-12 and then spends a lot of time thinking about teaching and learning I am always a little frustrated by folks from other disciplines (i.e not education) that come to the “revelation” that lecture halls filled with students is not a good model. It also makes me sad that faculty without prior teaching experience end up reinventing the wheel in the name of innovative practice without ever considering that they are likely on the same campus with people that can help them think about what they are doing in interesting new ways.
A great post by Chris Stubbs. Chris works here at PSU and thinks about how technology can impact teaching and learning.