Chapter 7: Platforms of Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From covered such a broad range of topics – almost too many – that exemplify how inventions and ideas get their start through networks, open-sourcing, and tapping into knowledge bases outside of any one particular profession. (The stories of how GPS was invented, Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” album, and Twitter were fascinating.)
One quote really stood out to me:
“Call it cooperative advantage. The burden of coming up with good ideas for the product is no longer shouldered exclusively by the company itself. On an open platform, good ideas can come from anywhere.” (Location 2224)
For educators, the first thing I think of is how to harness and disseminate the great ideas created on a daily basis by teachers in their individual classrooms. In classrooms around the world, teachers are creating new ways to reach struggling students, new tools to teach difficult concepts, and new methods of assessing on the fly to better target their instruction. Those who are able Tweet or blog have an additional advantage of being a contributor and learner of a larger network.
I think of the success stories of teachers such as Bergmann & Sams’ Flipped Classroom or Lindsay and Davis’ Flat Classroom Project or Karl Fisch’s Shift Happens presentation. In all of these cases, without the broadcasting power of social networks and education publications, it is likely that these projects would have lived a shorter life within a very small circle of people. Yet because these educators in particular knew how to use modern tools to create a “cooperative advantage,” their ideas were shared, built upon, and helped thousands of other educators rethink how they were teaching.
Questions for reflection:
- How are teachers at your school or in your district currently sharing good ideas with others?
- How much are educators in your organization a part of a broader network of learning? If your answer is “limited,” what are the barriers? How can you convince educators, IT, board members, etc. the power of sharing knowledge outside of the organization?
I will post one last thought on this book after reading the Conclusion. It has been an eye-opening read!