Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Learning Community

Yesterday I wrote about the WOW 2.0 webcast that was coming up, and here are some thoughts on my experience. The questions that we were asked in the interview this morning (Australian time) were somewhat unexpected. Obviously educators trying to use the new web 2.0 tools in their teaching experience difficulties in both hemispheres. There were questions of what professional development teachers engage in in Australia and what schools do about filtering. As part of my professional development, but also because I love the feeling of connectedness it gives me, I listen to educational podcasts regularly. This evening I was listening to Loren Burch reflecting comprehensively on her experience of NECC and she spoke of being present at the Women of Web 2.0 (WOW) workshop “Collaborative Content Coaching” in Atlanta. She mentioned how Sharon Peters had reminded us about of the importance of using these tools to enable the kind of pedagogy needed to teach 21st century students and engage in the kind of activities that will continue to be important for our students in their everyday lives. It was good to remember this, as when there are difficulties in our day to day teaching with these tools, the lack of support, the blocking of sites, the having to justify and continually explain trying to use these tools to busy colleagues, it seems easier to not talk about what we’re doing in class. Which is hard as it is so exciting to see what the students can do and are learning. It seems so polarized in schools between those teachers who are enthused and those teachers who just don’t want to hear about it. But what to do about it? That is a question that is important to all of us who want to engage our students in these ways. And I don’t have answers right now.

Another great aspect of the conversation this morning was the request to mention something we are doing that is in some way “over the top” Vicki’s words. It was great to hear about Jason Hando’s “skyping with an expert” lessons, when instead of researching in encyclopedias or on the internet the students had a chance to ask questions using skype of people who were experts in the area being studied. What a great idea. I can’t wait to relisten to the conversation when it is podcast to hear all these ideas again. Judy was speaking about the students who were studying a novel to make MySpace pages for each of the characters, another great idea. One of my Literature students did do that for Offred the main character in A Handmaid’s Tale. It would have been great to do that with three or more characters, to get the general ideas out of the way and dig deeper in differentiating among the characters. I will be starting the term off with more ideas and enthusiasm and I know that many students love the challenge of learning this way. My learning community in Year 7 English continues to blog during the holidays. Cassidy is on a trip around parts of Australia and is blogging the journey. Students are writing poetry and commenting on each others blogs and they are communicating with me via instant messaging (msn) on the novel they are reading in the holidays. Next term I will set up official “office hours” so that students can ask questions at the time they are doing their homework a few evenings a week, while I’m listening to podcasts. I have already offered to do this in a general way but it is mostly the year 7s who have taken up the offer and one year 12 student. I have not found it onerous and in fact I have learned a lot doing this and have enjoyed it. The subject of our conversation is always school related, and is brief and to the point – just-in-time learning in fact. During the conversation this morning there was news of a ning that has been set up by Steve Hargadon and Julie Lindsay called Edubloggerworld “International network for educational bloggers and friends. A meeting place, as well as a coordinating location for live face-to-face and virtual events”.

I want to thank the women of web 2.0 and my Aussie colleagues Graham, Judy, and Jason for the opportunity to chat this morning. I am also hoping to meet Julie Lindsay f2f tomorrow and will write about that too then.


  1. Just finished listening to WOW2 podcast and it was great. Very interesting to hear 4 Aussie educators from different places/systems talking about web 2.0 in schools. Such a range of experience, but bodes well for the future, in spite of some pessimism voiced - or perhaps it is more impatience. The podcast is not on the website yet, but is available through the feed - see bottom of this page:

  2. Hi Jo,

    Just listened to the whole WOW2 show. I had rushed home just in time to hear the last 1/2 an hour and participate in the chat.
    Great to hear educators from just "over the ditch" speaking about their experiences.

    Cheers, Rachel