Why isn't web 2.0 important for educators? is a question that Rachel Jeffares from New Zealand asks in her part of Graham's K12 Online conference presentation in answer to his question. And this is my question in some ways too. Here are a few reasons. Teachers are overworked, under pressure and out of time. And some people just don't like blogs (thanks to Doug Noon in my del.icio.us network for this one.) But to me it is part of the digital divide. This week on Radio National's program Australia Talks Back there was a segment on The Digital Divide, talking about "a country divided along unexpected lines - creating a technological underclass . . . " which was covered again in the Friday Week in Review section. Naturally the program covered important issues such as access and equity, but there was also an aspect of division along knowledge lines. A caller spoke about part of the digital divide being the intimidation felt by "those who don't know" from "those who do". Because of my recent experience in learning to podcast (well, it was a big deal for me!) I know just what he meant. I was intimidated and felt even more stupid when people were telling me it was so easy that even 8 year olds could do it. It took me a year from deciding I wanted to do it to getting the courage to try. And when I was doing my first one, I became so frustrated and wanted someone who knew how to be sitting beside me, but all I had was my husband who doesn't know about this, but listened to me venting "but how do I get a Lame encoder (whatever that is)? How do I unzip a file??? why isn't it working? how come it doesn't look like that screen shot? what have I done wrong? And two hours later it had worked. I don't know why or how. But I have done it again since and each time I have learnt more and more. Now I love it and have heaps of ideas for other podcasts. Things that did help were listening to other podcasts like Bob Sprankle and Cheryl Oakes, hearing people talk about webcasting (a different thing but still relevant) and keeping on trying, as well as being part of Graham's presentation. I am now learning to do interviews and keeping the sound recording levels right and later I will probably add music (maybe, if it's not too hard). People who know all about podcasting are probably saying "but it's easy." All I can say is, it didn't seem that way to me. But once you know how, then it is. I am writing this in a cafe with a pen into my little notebook and will later type it into my blog. I look with awe on those who can moblog with their mobile phones (like David Warlick) and that might be the next thing I learn. In the meantime for those who want to know, here are podcasts on Gattaca and The Wife of Martin Guerre for revision for students who are studying these texts. I did them as interviews with other teachers in my school which was something that they were willing to be involved with. And I thank them for that. It sounds much better than my voice alone. I can definitely see podcasting being a fantastic tool for learning and so watch this space to see what happens next.
Update: I forgot to say that I am probably intimidating to others who don't yet know, and also that it takes a special kind of person to talk about web 2.0 to people who don't know. Often these teachers feel annoyed by those who speak in a language they don't understand and as Ewan realises "explaining the hows and whys behind the social software movement in education without coming close to putting backs up or making people defensive" is hard. I know because I don't often succeed. It's good that others can.