Friday, December 28, 2007

Educational Technology and Web 2.0 in Colleges and High Schools

Okay, it is a long title. But, that is what I just searched on Google because I want to make a few predictions and resolutions.

Here is what I found as the top five hits on Google for Educational Technology and Web 2.0 in Colleges and High Schools

Now, if I were a new teacher trying to lasso educational technology or a veteran teacher looking to hook into technology, searching for these words would mean nothing. There are over 2 million hits!

So, imagine their distress when we add in "virtual worlds" to the mix; they aren't grasping the (old) new stuff let alone the (new) new stuff.

So....predictions for 2008. I have only made three, and we will see how it all unfolds.

1. The Nay Sayers will get louder, and there will be battles over tenure, promotion, and academic freedom. The Nay Sayers tend to be a bunch of loud out-of-touch people with nothing better to do than scrutinize their peers. They exist everywhere. While it would be touching to say they are harmless, often they are not; they are often the ones voting for tenure and promotion. Sadly, there is a younger group that seems to be following this path (probably to get tenured..suck ups), and they claim to "be doing research" about how blogs/wikis/virtual worlds/mashed potatoes are NOT effective in the classroom. When you ask them to show the research, they stomp off declaring that it is absurd to question their professional ethics (um, really, just gimme the link to that research...I can give you 10 more links in support of it). Academic Freedom is usually defined only by the one challenged; the other side always calls it "standards" even if those standards only exist in the air. So, the Nay Sayers saunter back to Grendel's Lair and hang out with a bitter Monster and its Mom until the warriors arrive. Who wins the battle? Well, that all depends on what cloth Beowulf is cut from and how powerful the Nay Sayers are in the overall political scheme of things. But, I definitely know who loses the battle: the students. Whilst the faculty toss arrows at one another, the students are left powerless to change their fate, and they will be ill prepared for the future.

2. Teaching faculty will become frustrated by the overwhelming number of tools available to them (assuming they want to use technology). Forget the Nay Sayers for the moment (actually, I don't pay much attention to them at all), let's focus on all the teachers and professors that WANT to use technology. We sit them down (those of us in the early adopter band camp), and we start showing them Wikis, Blogs, Twitter, Tumblr, Fleck,, Digg, MySpace, Facebook, Xanga, Second Life, There, Jing, Flickr, YouTube, TeacherTube, SlideShare, etc. etc. etc.). As we clap and salivate at ALL the coolio things we are planning for the Spring, the poor colleague is reaching for her inhaler and Xanax. I've done enough trainings and workshops to know that it is best to take baby steps. It is OK to show off all the coolio tools out there, but it is better to highlight a few of the most effective ones and to save the rest of the tool kit for a later date. We have to help our colleagues maintain a decent blood pressure through it all, and we need them to know that we didn't build our mega blogs in one day. Most importantly, we need to say it is A-OK not to use every blessed tool under the SunMicrosystem.

3. Students will love learning again. I am a product of the 80s. I wore spandex (praise be, the body worked for them at the time), I wore bangle bracelets, and I wanted to be either Cyndi Lauper or Madonna on a day when she wasn't wearing cones. When it came to High School, I enjoyed playing Bagpipes in our marching band and being in Model UN. I don't remember a single class aside from English. Quite frankly, learning sucked. It was boring. Those of you who know me, know I need to multiply engaged at all times to pay attention. Maybe it is ADD or ADHD or something, but I need to be doing a few things at once. The lectures were sooooooooooooo boring, I would compose pipe tunes in my head during class or practice grace notes between movie clips. If the lectures could have been musical or visual or interactive....SOMETHING...ANYTHING....I might have been more likely to pay attention. Learning wasn't fun. Sorry, it just wasn't.

Fast forward to 2008. Students can work together to create podcasts; they can build wikis; they can use Google Maps, create slidecasts, screencasts, and movies. We can blow up Diet Coke and Mentos and link it to the writing process; we can go on virtual pilgrimages. Learning is fun again. It doesn't work for all students; this is something that is hard for me to grasp, but, truly, we all learn differently. Some students need structure, but most of the students love the classes, love the freedom, respect the challenges, and appreciate the end results.

So, given these predictions, here are my resolutions for 2008:

1. I shall continue to ignore the Nay Sayers.

2. Eloise and I (and anyone else interested) shall work on a wiki that hosts as many free tools as we can find with little easy-to-grasp descriptors.

3. I shall focus energy on helping students fall in love with learning; in the process, I will continue my love affair with teaching.


Serendipity35 said...

Being one of that 2 million (though thankfully - for your search - in the top 5), I am understandably overwhelmed by all that is available to teachers. That is one of the frightening things for those new to learning 2.0.

One way to sift is to find a few blogs or sites that sift for you and follow them. In my "think globally, act locally" eco-mind, I like to see teachers create their own sites for their community. It looks like you are on that path with your wiki (obviously, it can reach a much wider audience too).

Fare forward!


Brother Tim said...

Teachers need to be facile with the tools of Web 2.0 and beyond. It isn't enough that they be content gatherers and mentors to their students using the newer technologies.

Instructors need to have a fundamental foundation in the protocols and semantics of web-based content and how it is delivered.

I don't think it can be fully accomplished until the generation of current students who have grown up with Web 2.0 (and other) tools as defacto resources, become the next generation of teachers.