A Useful Metaphor: Sip, Don’t Drown!

February 25, 2010

During the Skype conversation I had this evening with a group of classmates, I told them about a metaphor that I found useful and reassuring from a previous class I had taken. One of the presenters last semester gave the very good advice to think of technological tools and possibilities as a river. The waters are running swiftly past us all as we stand on the shore and many of us can feel intimidated by the vastness and wildness of the currents that are whipping their way downstream. Imagine you are on the side of that immense river and you are thirsty.. you want to take a drink from the river, but the waters are fast and there is no telling how deep they run.

Also imagine that you are holding a cup in your hand. When you are thirsty, when you are ready to test the technological waters, then simply dip your cup into the stream. You don’t need to fling yourself into the deepest part of the river.. in fact that’s a really good way to get in over your head and drown!

I’ve been reading some blogs and I read over and over again that people feel completely overwhelmed by the vastness of the possibilities for exploration out there. And they are right. The possibilities are immense. The river of Web 2.0 tools is vast and there are unknown depths and perhaps submerged rocks that can be dangerous to us or our students. Just like any water cycle though, the river of technology is always there. The water is always flowing. You can dip your cup when you are ready. Will you miss things? Will parts of the river pass you by? Yes.. it’s inevitable. The number of technological tools available to any task is overwhelming for sure. Does that mean you won’t find the tool that will work for you? No.. in fact, to my way of thinking, the sheer number of tools out there means there IS one that will suit my purposes. It may take a bit of trial and error for me to find the tool to fit my needs, but I’m confident it exists, even if it happens to be a little bit further upstream than I am at this particular moment in time đŸ˜‰

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6 Responses to “A Useful Metaphor: Sip, Don’t Drown!”

  1. jawilly2006 said

    Hi Michelle,

    I am using a very tiny straw, sip, sip, sip. It’s about sipping and filtering too I think. What I am finding is that every sip helps me get a taste for what I may want to use but frustrates me at the same time because I am constantly reminded that an even better tool might be in the middle of the river… maybe I need a bigger boat!

    • Michelle Clarke said

      I know exactly what you mean! I believe though, that a great deal of learning and finding the “right tool” is a matter of timing. I have been introduced to some Web 2.0 tools in the past and I didn’t use them until just now in this class because I wasn’t ready. I didn’t see the potential and possibilities and I wasn’t brave enough yet to venture far enough into the waters to give it a try. So don’t worry! The water cycle is cyclical and odds are the tool you will find ideal for your purposes will eventually drift your way, well within your reach đŸ™‚

  2. Marnie said

    Great metaphors here. None of us have unlimited time so wearing a life jacket is a good idea too. That life jacket comes in the advice of others who have tested/tried the waters. This is why I stay away from the vast lists of web 2.0 tools – they can be overwhelming and they also don’t filter at any level for me. For some I think it is a quest to see how may they can find/list. Unless you want to get that drink from the middle of the fast moving stream, put on your life jacket and sip from lists that have some highlighted tools, top recommendations etc.

    • Michelle Clarke said

      Excellent points Marnie! I’ll definitely be keeping that sound advice in mind as I continue my Web 2.0 exploration!

  3. tk34 said

    What a great post Michelle. You put the whole Web 2.0 and technology into a perspective that I think anyone (especially educators) could ‘live with’. I think too many educators feel they need to jump right in (that is the expectation) and arwe worried about getting in over their head . . . and ultimately drowning. We don’t expect our children to be able to run before they can roll over, crawl, stand up, and walk. We don’t throw our kids into the deep end of the pool when we know they can’t swim . . . we shouldn’t expect our teachers to ‘jump in with both feet’ either. I think if they just get a ‘taste’ of the waters, it could be quite refreshing . . . and provide themk with a place where they can return to further sample the waters. Thanks for your post.

    • Michelle Clarke said

      My pleasure! I can’t take credit for creating the metaphor, but I’m more than happy to pass it along to others. It has provided me with a lot of reassurance!

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