The Gift of Our Critical IHE Community

An appreciation.

September 14, 2015

"I'm guessing Josh writes most of columns in a stream-of-consciousness manner. Whatever pops into his head one day becomes fodder for his column, even if it's largely inconsistent with what he wrote the day before".

From Nematoda, commenting on my post 6 Reasons Why The iPad Pro Might Be A 1:1 Program Game Changer.

Our IHE community often reminds me of my favorite graduate school seminars. Passionate debate. Strong opinions. A shared set of values and a common purpose. The feeling that while we may strongly disagree with each other, we value each other's opinions, and are committed to listening and trying to learn from each other.

It is the honest, bracing, and critical give-and-take in our IHE community that I find most refreshing. 

When I read Nematoda’s comment above I am grateful for the engagement. It is a difficult tightrope to walk to figure out how to be critical and to challenge, while also keeping the door open for engagement and discourse. I think that Nematoda, and many other folks in our IHE community, walk this line really well. 

Members of our IHE community may be very critical, but they are almost always smart, knowledgeable, articulate, and often very funny.

Perhaps it is too much to ask that our regular academic discourse be so passionate and direct. Too often our academic meetings are characterized by violent agreement rather than spirited debate.   

There is a great deal of worry and concern about the incivility of online discussions. I don’t think that this an issue with our IHE community. (At least not in the folks who congregate to talk about Technology and Learning). 

Our community is critical, caustic, challenging and direct - but I almost always feel that we are in this together.

One of the many advantages that I’ve taken away from participation in our IHE community is a much thicker professional skin. The cost of publicly evolving one’s own thinking, and engaging around new (often half-baked) ideas, is an invitation to critical comments. 

Not only do I often not know what I think until I write it out, I don’t know how good (or bad) the ideas are until we have discussed them.

Participation in our IHE community has helped me to see my academic work as an experiment. 

Ideas are hypothesis, constantly evolving and shifting based on new evidence. 

I find that I crave the sort of critical feedback in my work life that is a normal part of our IHE community. Strong responses now feel like opportunities to learn. 

Critical responses on IHE have toughened me to critical responses from colleagues at work. I no longer find myself responding in the defensive manner that criticism once provoked. 

If I’m wrong then great, as being wrong is the best way to learn something new.

So thank you for all the gifts that those of you who make the time to engage, respond, argue, criticize, and question bring to our IHE community.

Do you agree with me that our IHE community is an example of how a social media community should interact?

Why is it that our IHE community is able to accommodate conflict and disagreement, but still almost always maintain respect and collegiality?

Have you also grown a thicker skin from your participation in social media?



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