There was a recent Twitter discussion that I was involved in around the issue of presenters speaking on topics that they have no practical experience in. For example, at a conference I attended last year, I sat in on a keynote address where the presenter was discrediting the value of Second Life as an educational space but had never actually immersed himself within that virtual world. Come to think of it, I’m beginning to see that this happens a lot more that I previously realized. I’ve heard individuals who don’t have an iPod talking about the dangers of students bringing iPods to schools and how they believe that iPods don’t have any educational value. I have also heard opinions expressed that one piece of software/hardware is better than another from individuals who have no more than a superficial understanding of the software/hardware they are criticizing.
I think that it goes without saying that if one wants to talk the talk, then one has to walk the walk. In this blog, I write about mobile tools that can be used to help kids learn. While it is true that I’m currently not teaching in a classroom (thus, I am not using the tools directly with kids), I have an iPod that I utilize and I have a smart phone that I interact with. I’ve written about using mobile digital devices to read books from anywhere at any time because I myself read books on my smart phone. Currently, I am reading Jane Jacob’s Dark Age Ahead. I have written about using an iPod to listen to audiobooks because I have downloaded a number of public domain audiobooks from Librivox and have listened to them while driving to/from work. I have discussed listening to instructional podcasts on an iPod because I myself do just that. I subscribe to the Napoleon 101 podcast produced by Cameron Reilly and J David Markham and I am currently unofficially enrolled in a History of Ancient Rome class at Berkley. I’ve talked about using the Opera Mini 4 browser on a cell phone to access the Internet because I do so myself to search the web or to communicate on Twitter.
In short, I don’t just talk about mobile learning, but I try to practice what I preach and immerse myself in that culture.
As a result, I think it is important that if we are going to espouse the wonders of the new digital age, then we need to be a part of that culture. If we are going to praise or criticize Web 2.0 tools, then we need to have used those tools in more than just a superficial way. Otherwise, we are in danger of being hypocritical and out of touch.