Right or wrong, the word “coalition” carries with it sinister connotations these days in our run-up to the May 2nd Federal Election, but taken to its true definition, the concept of a coalition has enormous potential for all of us connecting here in the digital space. I feel part of a digital community that has dozens of regular contributors and, from time to time, swells to hundreds and even thousands of people who are passionate about education.
Speaking from the standpoint of my own learning network, we are an eclectic mix. We are students, teachers, school-based administrators, district administrators, elected officials, ministry personnel, parents and others in the community. The core group of my network is based in British Columbia, but it also draws on expertise from across Canada and around the world. Within the group are some who are very connected to formal structures of influence (union leadership, parent council chairs, etc.), yet it also includes others who provide valued insights from the viewpoint of unrelated fields. Our group has both public and private school staff working side-by-side to improve our system. We also have the attention of traditional media outlets which follow our thoughts and discussions. We are quite a group!
Nevertheless, as we have all mused about the system over the last several months, I realize how much we do have in common in our thinking. While we disagree around the edges of some issues, we have much more that unites us than divides us.
So, I have been wondering:
How do we move from being a connected network to becoming a group of influence?
How can we aggregate our thinking in a way that has influence in the larger community?
A couple posts related to this have struck me lately. I loved reading the inaugural post from 4 moms 1 dream; a great example of a grass-roots movement to help rethink schooling. I was also struck by Jason Leslie’s recent post where he pondered the kind of education he wants for his children. Pretty exciting stuff.
I do worry, at times, that the digital space tends to reassure the engaged and converted rather than expanding and recruiting new input for our group.
Of course, there are efforts to do just what I am writing about. This summer, I am planning to participate in Unplug’d – The Canadian Education Summit which examines this issue from a Canadian perspective. Many reading this will also likely be attending Edcamp Vancouver which is a great bypass of traditional structures and hierarchies.
I just think there is more we can be doing to take advantage of our group on a provincial or more local stage. We have all the traditional partners represented in our community, we are supported by outside experts and we are passionate and committed to a great system.
So, instead of waiting for someone else to produce something that we respond to, how can we take the lead?
I don’t think we realize how powerful our digital coalition is or can be.