I am currently reading The Learning Edge: What Technology Can Do to Educate All Children by Alan Bain & Mark E. Weston as part of my personal growth plan. Click below for summaries of previous chapters
Chapter 5: Associations and Edge Technology
This chapter was very thought-provoking for me and I admit that I struggled with some of the messages contained in it. Though “Association Type-A” was never named, I felt that the authors were talking specifically about an organization of which I am a member and, in spite of some flaws, generally support.
With some of the issues the authors raise about professional associations, I agree. For example, I agree with the perception that associations seem to focus more on their annual conferences and the revenue that brings in than providing support and advocacy for educators during the rest of the year. Even with that statement, however, I can already think of many publications, webinars, and other connections for learning from which I benefit year around.
I also agree with the tendency for organizations to move from one “hot topic” to the next. On the other hand, what else are organizations supposed to do? If they didn’t do so, they would be accused of being “out-of-touch” with the current landscape and continuing business as usual without paying attention to what the field is saying.
I must disagree, however, with the perception that it is distally connected to its members and that members have little say in the workings of the organization. Professional organizations and associations, at least those of which I am a member, are constantly asking for volunteers and feedback, asking members to help select presentations for their conference, and recruiting for special interest or focus groups. I could be much more involved than I am and often feel guilty that I don’t have (or make) the time to do so.
This chapter did force me to ponder, however, what it is that I find so appealing about the rather new CoLearningNetwork. This is a grass-roots effort comprised of local (Colorado) educators with whom I have had the pleasure of learning and working over the years. Some are former clients, others are former professors from my Master’s program, still others are educators I’ve met along the way at various conferences and gatherings. I like that the focus is on rich conversations and ideas that are happening right here and that the leaders enthusiastically encourage participation and leadership from its members (or soon-to-be-members). Most of all, I love that revenue-generation is not the remotest of its purposes.
I thank the authors for giving good food for thought with this chapter…