This afternoon my husband and I attended a funeral for someone we had never met: Jim Gould. Well, at least, we had never met him physically. We met and collaborated and shared ideas with Jim through the wonders of technology… through Skype and blogs and wikis and chatrooms at a place called EducationBridges.
EducationBridges… a site that was created as a meeting place for K-12 educators, technologists, philanthropists and others to come together and discuss ways to improve education with technology. The conversation focused on wikis as a way to get teaching materials and knowledge into classrooms, especially those classrooms where textbooks are either too expensive or are woefully outdated.
My husband suggested to Mrs Gould (our son’s former science teacher) that she join the conversation one day when he saw her at school…she asked if her husband could join instead. Mr Gould, recently retired from the Strongsville, Ohio school system after 25 years of service, was more than happy to participate. While I never heard his voice, his ideas in the chat room resonated with common sense and good practice. It was clear that he was a capital “E” Educator…one who saw many different sides to the process (and the challenge) of educating children today. When Jim gave you the thumbs up on something you said or wrote on the site, you knew you were on the right track.
An example of a Jim Gould’s thoughtful, careful and very learner-centric approach to education can be seen here where, eerily, on the day he died, he posted this message to the site about ways to concretely take the idea of wiki texts into the science classroom. As always, he was succinct, thoughtful, and above all, thinking about the art and the craft of teaching effectively.
John and I never had the opportunity to meet this man, but we were honored to have been witness to some of his thoughts and ideas.
For all the talk that there is in the media about predators and boogey men that lurk in the dark recesses of the web, let me counter that with the realization that there are also all sorts of the wonderful, incredible people from all over the world who use these social software tools as a way to collaborate, cajoul and create in ways that could not, would not be possible otherwise. I am grateful that I had the chance to “meet” him through these tools. And I know many others from the EducationBridges site feel that way too.
Jim: you inspired people in Mexico, Kuwait, Canada, Australia and throughout the US with your words. From all of us…thank you. You will be missed but never, ever forgotten.