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Want to see the future? Just follow @fnoschese

May 26, 2011

A couple of days ago, this showed up on Jason Kottke’s site:

If you don’t know Jason Kottke, he’s a super huge blogger who has millions of page views and crashes websites with his links. He’s one of those people who finds cool and interesting things on the internet and shares them, often before anyone else knows about them.

This also got picked up by a few physics teachers and posted to some of the physics listservs.

But in this case, when I saw this post i thought “gee, where have I seen this before?” and I thought back to an email I got from Frank Noschese back on Sept 21 with a link to the very same thing. And he tweeted it too.

This is just one data point, but it does reinforce my thinking that if you want to get to the cutting edge of what’s happening in a discipline, like physics teaching, you really need to be on twitter and reading blogs. The listservs, which are great, are still a bit behind the vanguard, and often conferences, sad to say, are even further behind that.

Why is this? I think it’s rather simple—blogs and twitter are faster. I tweet something, I get a response—almost instantly, and usually from more than one person. If I put up a blog post, like this one, I’ll have comments and things to think about the very next day. Conversations on listservs, however, play out over days, and therefore take much longer to sharpen your thinking.

So for those who say they don’t have time for twitter or blogging—I would respond that twitter and blogging are all about saving time; these tools bring more ideas together more quickly so that innovation takes off like a bonfire, rather than a slow smolder. Just think how much time you spend looking for ideas journals like The Science Teacher, or reading through a long thread on a listserv. Twitter and Blogging can make insights like these happen far more quickly.

If I’m right, look forward to hearing a whole lot more about Khan Academy (Frank’s latest target) in the coming months.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 26, 2011 1:13 am

    I was curious about the nonlinearities present in real pendula (as opposed to the typical \omega=\sqrt{\frac{g}{l}} that we usually approximate) so I did a quick simulation:

    Note that I did all of this the same night that John posted this just to play off his theme of blog and twitter speed.

  2. Jerrid kruse permalink
    May 26, 2011 1:29 am

    If you really want to see the future (& I think frank would agree), read science education research journals. The ideas we talk about on our blogs & twitter are decades old in the research journals. I think the “accepted” delay is 15 years between research & practice.

    We think we are breaking ground on our blogs, but we are most often sharing ideas we learned from someone or somewhere, which can likely be traced (at least partially) to ed research over the last 20-50 years (& more likely back nearly 100 years to philosophers like Dewey or even 1000s of years to thinkers like Socrates, of course there’s others).

    While the sharing we do in these venues might yield short term predictions, let us not forget the role of the philosophers & researchers. Maybe we can learn a lesson here & not so easily dismiss research & philosophy as so many teachers tend to do.

    • May 26, 2011 8:07 am

      Jerrid,
      Of course you’re right—you’re particularly right in this case since Richard Berg submitted this demo apparatus to the AJP back in 1990. However, I’ve been going to conferences and reading journals since I started teaching 12 years ago, and while I still find them valuable, I think the daily interaction I get via Twitter and blogging has made a larger difference in my day-to-day teaching. I totally think research is valuable, and I’ve even found it more valuable as I can subscribe to things like Physical Review Special Topics in Education. I also think blogging and Twitter are becoming great tools for disseminating research findings which would otherwise be difficult for many in-service teachers to access.

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