According to Jakob Nielson Participation Inequity: Encouraging More Users to Contribute there is a 90-9-1 rule for online participation: 90% are lurkers, 9% are intermittent contributors, and 1% are heavy contributors. On the flip side 90% of posts came from 1% of users, 10% of posts came from 9%, and 90% never post. He then goes on to show in charity on Facebook less than 1% give donations. He gives some suggestions for overcoming this disparity but I think his first statement is most true: you can’t.

I think this is true is any organization and on-line is no different. There will always be lots of people who just “show up” compared to the few who do the lion’s share of the work. So relating this back to education, I do not know any research into this but I would be willing to guess that around 1% of educators are involved in on-line communities such blogs, Twitter, Plurk, Nings, etc. There is often talk on-line about how to get more teachers involved in the learning and sharing that takes place in these kind of spaces.

Based on this article I wonder if we are fighting a losing battle to get a large number of educators to be involved in on-line learning. It would be great if we could get 90% of teachers to even lurk in on-line communities, but even that seems unlikely.

I am not saying that we should stop trying to encourage people to get involved in these kinds of spaces, but I do wonder if we at some point accept it as fact that many teachers will never choose to participate in on-line learning activities and instead focus on having a “go to” person per building who is active on-line and can be a resource to other teachers. I know this could be looked at as enabling the lazy, but I think it is utopian to think that someday all teachers will be involved in on-line communities and sharing.

So what do you think? Do you have a plan to get all teachers active in on-line learning or should we consider alternate methods to share our learning such as “building experts”?

This post is part of EdTech Blog Swap and was written by guest blogger Michael Kaechele (concretekax on Twitter) who blogs at the Concrete Classroom.

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