I will start by apologizing to Malcolm Gladwell. While he did not coin the phrase “tipping point,” he certainly did bring it back into everyday speech in recent years. I have not read Gladwell’s book by that name and I don’t pretend to understand the finer points of how he uses it. I do use the phrase to describe that moment when an activity becomes effortless. That point when the effort put into something gains enough momentum to propel itself forward. I’m trying to figure out where that point is with the boys involved in the PLE Project.
I understand that there is a stage in any aspect of developing a PLE that does seem to be more effort than it is worth. I’ve lost count of the number of blogs that I’ve started, maintained for a brief period and then abandoned. The feeling of obligation to some perceived (often imaginary) audience makes the writing of a blog seem like work. It becomes a chore if you feel that you have to write something because your audience expects it. For me, it took many attempts to get to a point where I actually look forward to having some time on the weekend to write. It is my time to reflect and get my thoughts together and I use my blog to do that. The fact that I sometimes get people reading and commenting is a brilliant side-benefit, but I suspect that I’m at the point now where I would write regardless if anyone commented. (Although I do admit to checking my stats page from time to time.)
So where is that point when my students will also get to that point? When will they realize that they need to be writing for themselves, not others? When will they have that exchange on Twitter that makes them realize that finding people that are passionate about the same things that you are is exciting. Who’s blog or Scoop.it! page will they stumble on and realize that there is so much more to know about their interests? How much of their own ideas will they have to put out there before something catches fire?
Chances are, that if you are reading this, this all makes sense to you. You read the blogs of others, and hopefully write a blog yourself. You understand that there are periods that go by when you feel like you’re putting bottle after bottle into the ocean hoping that someone will find your little island. But there are other times when you feel like your in the middle of Times Square on New Year’s Eve and it’s almost overwhelming the number of people that you’re in contact with and the flood of ideas that are coming your way.
My group are at various stages. At best, there are those that see the potential, but haven’t yet truly experienced the reward. At worst, there are those that keep looking at me wondering what crazy thing I’m going to ask them to do next and what the point of it all is. Most are getting to a point where I will be letting them run free for a time. There will be no face to face meetings and the rewards will come entirely from their own efforts. I guess all I can hope for is that there has been enough momentum built up to get them to the tipping point.