The new year of course is the time to set goals in the light of the reflection of what went well and what didn’t in the previous year. One of my goals is to go to NECC in San Antonio, Texas and I am making plans to do just that. After two years of watching from the sidelines as I read, first blogs and then twitters about the conversations and learning that was happening I decided that I just needed to be there. I have expressed interest in the tour to NECC from Australia that Chris Betcher wrote about (and maybe I’ll get to meet him on this tour as well.)
I have spent a fair bit of time trying out blogging in my classes and encouraging other teachers to blog as well in 2007. I gave numerous after school PD sessions, whenever I was asked, introducing Web 2.0 to teachers in other subject areas as well. A few teachers started their own blogs and some students did as well, but overall I would not say it has been a resounding success. I was hoping that teachers would get to know and wish to learn the technology as a way of doing what they needed and wanted to do (plan, learn discuss, collaborate, research, reflect) but so many times I felt that my public espousal of web 2.0 tools put me in the “weird” category. And then close to the end of the year it was seen by some (important) people that I was spending time on this kind of learning rather than representing and managing the English Domain as the Domain Leader. I have to say that being an English Coordinator and enabling teachers to facilitate great English lessons and learning experiences has been all I’ve ever wanted to do. I love exploring Literature, writing is a passion of mine and I love to see students being able to express themselves and represent their opinions as they come to participate in our society. When I was drawn to blogging and other web 2.0 tools it was as an English teacher. I saw it as an opportunity for students to read and write and discuss, to be steeped in the values of the reading and writing tradition (i.e. become aware of the importance of full stops and apostrophes), and so I saw it as part of doing my job. I am not really sure of what it means for 2008. But I try to suss it out. I have been timetabled into a computer lab for two of my classes so I will be offering blogging as a choice for the students in those classes at least.
Working through the difficulties in introducing blogging to teachers in my school has made me think about what the barriers are, as so many edubloggers do. And I think I have worked it out, maybe. The national radio station ABC used to offer its programs as podcasts in its advertising. But in the latest advertising of this service the word “podcast” was not used at all. It was referred to as audio on demand. And it made me think. The word “blog” and “wiki” are not important and the terminology itself seems to be a barrier. Even the term “web 2.0” is unnecessary and could be a barrier. As I thought after I heard an IT conversations podcast, people other than early adopters or techno-geeks aren’t really interested in the technology. They don’t want to know how RSS works or even what it is, and so the for product being discussed on the podcast, while it uses RSS, the term was not used. The technology is hidden. Maybe that will happen for blogs and wikis which may be just “websites”. After all, good learning starts with where the learners are, I think.
And then tomorrow I am going to be on the Women of Web 2.0 show. I am so excited. I listen to this podcast all the time and in the holidays it is great to be involved. But to be an invited guest! I am so honoured. I love what these women are doing and their mission statement sums it all up really:
Our mission is to provide a professional voice in educational Web 2.0 discussions. Conversations coming from the WOW2 network will move across gender, race, and country lines and display the beautiful diversity of the internet kaleidoscope. We are advocates for professional ethics, emerging technologies, collaborative projects, quality best practices research, and teaching students critical thinking skills. We are non-partisan and pro-student.
Advocates. Says it all really.