Monday, August 4, 2008

Mavens, Connectors, or Anti-Social: How Should Our Schools Look?

Denis Hancock wrote this interesting piece on the blog Wikinomics:

As I’ve navigated this remarkably inter-connected little world I’ve probably read several thousand blog posts on the topic, and most of these – predictably – seem to focus on the people Malcolm Gladwell would call the “mavens” and “connectors”.

For the six of you that may not have read his book, “mavens” are the intense gatherers of information and impressions that are most likely to pick up on new trends, and “connectors” are people with a broad network of acquaintances that trust their opinion. Whether the actual term used is “trend setter”, “nfluencer”, “bzzagent”, or any of the many of the others you are likely to come across in the social media blogosphere, the focus seems to primarily be on how these two types of people are using new social media tools.

Seeing this led me to ponder a simple question – what about everyone else? What about that staggeringly large group of people that are neither mavens nor connectors (and particularly those one might call anti–social) - are their social media appetites distinctly different, and if so what are the implications for companies pursuing a social media strategy? More pointedly, will this great mass of people slowly get in line with the adoption curve that mavens and connectors are setting in social media, or might they do something totally different – something that would put some of the prevailing theories regarding cohort behavior into question? To begin looking into this issue, I wanted to start with a particular application where I sense line is being drawn in the sand – Twitter.

In an educational/school context, here are some questions that I came up with:

  1. Assuming teachers are part of a larger world and culture as humans, where do they fit?
  2. Who should teachers be?
  3. How is technology adoption affected by being a maven, connector, or anti-social?
  4. Are teaching/pedagogical beliefs and values tied to being a maven, connector, or anti-social?
  5. Do all teachers need to be mavens or connectors?
  6. Can teachers be anti-social and still be effective by the above definition?
  7. How does this apply to school leaders?
  8. How does this apply to other school stakeholders (students, parents, and community members)?
  9. Will anti-social people (school stakeholders in our context) as Denis asks in the closing of the blog post, avoid it, doing something different, or come around?
  10. How does this/should this impact our thoughts on professional development?
  11. Because we are a maven or connector, can we/do we expect our colleagues to be the same as we are?
  12. How do we teach students to be mavens and connectors?
  13. Do we expect all students (who are part of a larger world and community) to be mavens and connectors?
  14. Who would students rather be?
  15. Is either a maven or connector inherently better from an school/learning standpoint?
  16. Are beliefs and values of learning impacted by a teacher's role as either a maven, connector, or anti-social?
  17. Does the Lake Wobegon Effect apply to this?
  18. How does this correlate to the Pew/Internet study that suggest similar usage/adoption patterns?
  19. How can we use the blend of this framework and the Pew/Internet providing user patterns to develop our professional development?
Please feel free to add your own questions or thoughts.

Interesting stuff to think about!

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