How do we make “great learning” go viral?

A question that has been burning in my mind lately is “how do we make great learning go viral?

Many want positive change to spread quickly, but often we create conditions that limit ideas to a small community that can often be contained or die off together.  For example, seeing great practice in a classroom from an educator and asking them to talk about the practice weeks (or sometimes month) later, ensures that this great practice will not spread at a rate that we would like, whereas tweeting or blogging about it could make it visible immediately.  Not only is it visible immediately, but it can now change the conversations amongst staff immediately because seeing something great should spark curiosity and conversation.  Making something go “viral” and keeping it offline, seem counterintuitive in our world today.

Another practice that I have seen that keeps great ideas hidden is when we use “closed groups” online as opposed to opening things up.  For example, in a closed group, you may start with ten people having a conversation, but often, that group is the largest it will ever be.  At any point, two of the people in the group may be busy with something and have to check out for awhile, leaving eight left.  The posts become less, and the interest often decreases, and the group can become smaller and smaller.  There is obviously benefits of using closed groups (appealing to different comfort levels, privacy in conversations), but they are often not conducive to making great learning go viral.

Start with the same group of ten in an open environment, and you see the same two people drop out.  If the information is group is great, others might see it, and jump in whether it is through something like a hashtag or a Facebook group.  Although the original “ten” might not still be in the group, the idea lives on and grows with others, and might actually bring many from the original ten back at different dates.

The visual in my head is of the old notion of a fish in a bowl (which I learned in researching this that you should not do). The fish is limited in growth to the size of a bowl, but when the fish is an open stream, there is much more opportunity for growth based upon the environment.  Sometimes the environments we create are the exact reason that great ideas don’t spread.

What is the environment you create to make great learning go viral?

2 Comments

  1. “What is the environment you create to make great learning go viral?” This is a great question, George. For me the environments for this include open share forums such as Twitter or Google+, good conferences that open their doors to many in welcoming, accessible ways, blog posts, YouTube videos, and researched reports that demonstrate the value of particular learning tools, materials, processes, and pedagogy. Typically by following threads on social media and in popular periodicals and blogs, you’ll be introduced to ideas that begin to gain steam as more and more educators implement that work. You can watch the life of good ideas unfold and then personalize those ideas to your own context. Thanks for posing such a great question today. I’ll continue to think about it. Have a great day.

    June 7, 2015
    • Thanks for your comment Maureen!

      June 7, 2015

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