Saturday, July 19, 2008

Week 9:23 Evaluation

Wow.  Dunzo (I think).  This was a great introduction to the web 2.0 tools.  Thank you Katie and Ann for getting the class in place and mentoring us !!!!!  I'd like to look again at some of the lessons and I have a list of web sites noted from the lessons and the text that I'd like to explore.  I loved the text and have read several chapters.  My head is overly full at the moment.

*  I would suggest that future students  be encouraged to "buddy-up;"  I think all of us had a least one lesson (or two) that was a struggle.  Having a specific partner to work things out with would help.   Another suggestion would be to put a voluntary meeting in place where people could come and go over sticky points or "show off" something they have discovered.  Reading blog posts often show the results but not how a person got to the results.  Perhaps an online chat would be useful.

*  Can the blog list of participants be alphabetized?  Also, could the first assignment to set up a blog include filing out the "description" and "profile?"  It would help us get to know each other better.

Thanks again.  I'm still hoping to create a school library wiki that incorporates some of these tools.  

Chapter 5: Professional Development

Sometimes my brain struggles when the authors describe the future they write about; however, they do such a good job at describing the dismal state of current professional development that I am inclined to believe the future the present.   

Teachers hate professional development; even if a session is interesting, there is no follow up for implementation.   Teachers basically have to spend their own money and their own time trying to upgrade their skills and rework their lessons --all while working.  A trainer years ago said that she felt sorry for teachers as they were one of the few professions where continuing education was on their own time and own dime.  Having professional, non-teacher friends, I see how true that is.  

No wonder some teachers are resistant to change.  Another problem is those well-meaning teachers who try and  add web 2.0 requirements to their assignments without having competency themselves and without examining how web 2.0 impacts the teaching and learning in their classrooms and without allowing for the social network collaboration which is the crux of web 2.0.

Instead of Business Ed. classes, there should be web 2.0 classes for students.  We shouldn't assume that they are digital natives just because they are teenagers.  For years I have felt that computer classes should have included internet research classes that would cover not only the various databases but how to use google effectively.  We've turned students lose on computers and missed an opportunity to really educate them on the web.

Chapter 9: New Schools

This chapter reiterates the importance of transforming education to meet the 21st century needs and states that unless we close the gap between what is and what should be, "while a few will accomplish so much, many will accomplish little, and the window for imagination and boldness will be lost."  This quote spoke to me as, frankly, I thrived under the old educational system of memorization and the accumulation of knowledge.  Yet, I realize that a lot of my peers did not fair nearly as well and I wonder how many failed and were left behind.

This chapter also has an article by David Warlick entitled, "Learning From Games."  In looking beyond the games themselves to the experience of gaming, he articulates the attributes that assist learning .  Never having played a game myself, this was a very interesting article to read.

This chapter also posits the idea that if Amazon can provide book recommendations based on an individual's purchases, why can't an education program do the same with educational avenues based on student achievement and interests.  

Chapter 7: Online Safety and Security

The best thing about this chapter  is the number of web sites mentioned that will help teachers not only understand copyright and blog & wiki issues, but allow them to use specific sites designed for classroom use.

It is obvious that adults view the internet more as a tool while teens view the internet as a place to hang out with their peers--and while they "may" understand copyright in principle, they don't let the rules stand in their way.

I was also left wondering if our district's AUP has been undated to take in these web 2.0 tools.

Chapter 1:New World, New Web, New Skills

"Today's education system faces irrelevance unless we bridge the gap between how students live and how they learn."  Web 2.0 tools have the potential to revolutionize teaching and learning in order to better educate students for a 21st century, global society.  These tools will allow more creativity and collaboration and  students can be more responsible for their learning choices.    However, for that to happen will take a revolution; and  I am pessimistic for the following reason:

1)  No matter what studies have shown time and time again, our school system is entrenched in out-modeled ways:  schools still close for 10 weeks in summer so that students can help on the family farm, educational testing and labeling is legislated to the degree that standardized tests are driving the teaching/learning in schools--and in the admission to higher education.   No matter how many studies show that teenagers need more sleep and would benefit from later start times, it hasn't happened.

2) The digital divide is too large: between states, between districts, between schools and between students (and between teachers for that matter--classroom technology is inequitable except perhaps at brand new schools).

3) I read somewhere that an incredible number of teachers  are soon to retire and the worry is that there will be a huge shortage of teachers.  This might actually be the saving grace.  New teachers who are already required to demonstrate 2.0 skills in their teaching methodologies will be the ones who transform education in the classroom.   Web 2.0 in education may actually attract more people to the field of teaching....but it is the school boards and administrators who first must embrace this new future and who must not only "talk the talk" actually walk in the 2.0 world..

Unless this educational revolution happens, more and more students, parents and communities will turn away from public education.   

Week 9:22 eBooks and Audio eBooks

Sorry, I was not impressed; although, I did like the "Best Places to Get Free Books" site.   I got hits when I used the World EBook Fair site and the LibriVox site but after waiting 5 minutes for files to load (on an upgraded broadband connection) I gave up.  Students wouldn't have lasted that long and at school the connection is so poor during peak hours it would be impossible to use.

Originally I thought either of these sites could help when teachers don't have enough sets of classic titles required in the curriculum (or that they could help a student who has lost or misplaced a text) but the obvious download problem makes it unusable.  I would definitely not consider demonstrating either site at a staff meeting and I'd warn English teachers in advance that using either site requires a lot of patience.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Week 9:21 Podcasts

I have been fascinated with the concept of using podcasts for a couple of years. In exploring the EPN (Education Podcast Network), I quickly discovered a couple of types of podcasts that can be used as examples for my school.

One is a 5-part student-produced series discussing The Great Gatsby in the context of the Roaring 20s. Since The Great Gatsby is read by 10th graders, something like this would be a better end product than the standard analytical paper they now individually produce. The classes already use library books to get a feel of the 1920s but this web 2.0 combining aspects of the book and the time period is a much better way to engage students.

Another is a podcast posted on the Hopkinton NH High School library site. Weekly podcasts booktalk the titles nominated for a particular teen read award. In the process of accessing this site, I couldn't help but notice that the school library web site was wonderful. It can be found at: