Friday, October 12, 2007

Novice to Expert in a Few Clicks

It's my understanding--not my experience-- that in terms of snowboarding, the difference between a novice and an expert is two weeks. That may not be true--and I'm sure for those who are "extreme" it is not. We all know the when it comes to making a PowerPoint slideshow the difference is 15 minutes (just to make one) and 15 hours (to make a really good one).

So what does it take to be a Teacher 2.0, a poweruser of Web 2.0 tools in the classroom?

Well, at the BOSSAC 2007 In-service Day, I witnessed 30 teachers go from novice to expert in under 5 hours. Where the were only two teachers who could define seven out of twenty-five Web 2.0 terms at the start of the day, everyone was creating their own blogs, wikis, and podcasts by day's end. It was great witness.

Two perceptions (of many) I took away from the day. One: how easy Web 2.0 technology really is, even for digital immigrants like our "shift happens" generation. And two: how powerful just a few Quick Starts can be to making that shift happen for the willing. I have no doubt that that Monday won't make a difference that shows up in the classrooms of our region. Here's my challenge to those of you who were part of the workshop and learned something new: Pass it along to at least one other teacher.

Now that you know, pay it forward.

For those of you who weren't at the workshop but are interested in learning about a few ways to use contemporary Web tools in your classrooms, find the handouts and Quick Starts at under Media for Educators. Soon you, too, will be "catching some air."

Image credit: Smith, Jonathan. "Snowboard Air." Dziner. 10 Jan 2007

Saturday, October 6, 2007

eLearning: Not for the Faint at Heart

This month I am participating as session presenter in four conferences on Web 2.0. Every presentation is a bit different than the other. Prepping for diverse audiences on the same general topic has its own challenges and rewards. The challenge is obvious, but the reward is what interests me.

As I work on my presentations--to be "an expert in the room"--I find out how little I know about a vast subject. There are so many wonderful meanings and applications of Web 2.0. Everyday there are new blogs, widgets, wikis, videos, podcasts ad infinitum. As I prepare to mention some "old standbys" I notice new tools on the horizon. It can be overwhelming to consider.

Likewise it is exciting. By sussing out the answers I need for the next presentation, I find new ways to use the Web. The "teacher-as-expert-training" in me panics over not having all four corners of the World Wide Web pinned down. The digital immigrant in me is thrilled to know a few more tools in the lexicon of educational media literacy.

The best advice I can give for those who attend my presentations and have the same feelings of trepidation of swimming in an ocean of information and technology that becomes fathoms deeper and leagues broader every minute is to embrace the concept of "perpetual beta." Yes, the world is changing--it has changed, it will continue to change. Most likely we teachers will never again "know it all." We may not even ever "know as much" about some of the emerging media as our students already do. That's okay.

As digital immigrants, we may never loose our BG (Before Google) accents, but if keep at improving our understanding of the IT lexicon and rethink our pedagogies that have served us well, we can offer our students one of the best models: that of a genuine learner.