Web 2.0.1?

I included a little bit of humor in my title as a nod to the ever-changing planes of technology.  The use of blogs have exploded and become much more than an asynchronous means of communication.  When the term “blog” was conceived I remember hearing it’s full proper name used often – web log – as if people had to say it, read it, write it, and hear it in its full form to digest what this meant for communication.  Ever pick up an object so peculiar that you keep turning it over and over in your hand, like, say for example, a clock with digitally projected numbers instead of analog?  Ok, you get my point: when we encounter something so fresh, new, and intriguing it’s all we can do to break away for a split second and forget about it.

That’s kind of been the trend with blogs as long as I can remember.  Soon after the expression became the buzzword on everyone’s lips the baby blogs sprouted up in pockets online.  In their infancy they looked unstructured, disheveled, and blatantly experimental.  There was a sense of vulnerability in the publishing of one’s blog.  People could actually, like, read your real thoughts and stuff.  Who’d’a thought?

Flash forward a mere decade (or less?!) and blogs have become an entity of their own.  There are blogs that teach us how to make things, expose us to the darker side of life, enlighten us with the innocence we too often dismiss as frivolous, allow us to peek into celebrity lifestyles, or how to be a better mom.  Blogs nowadays even have subscribers, and full-time heavy hitters go as far as daily/weekly/whenever giveaways with price tags none to scoff at!  It’s putting the steering column of syllabic freedom into the hands of anyone: the naive, the seasoned, the messenger…

But what does that mean for our students?  Frankly, that they can be exposed to inaccurate, let alone inappropriate, content, is the reason to be dubious to allow such a thing in my classroom.  Deciphering blogs (which includes their content and their author’s credibility) has come a long way thanks to the educators who saw the vision unfurl before their eyes.  Thanks to these educators, consultants, and just plain students education is able to join in on the trajectory of the blogosphere and even steer its course.  Do I use blogs in my classroom yet?  No, but that doesn’t mean I’m not searching for the right vehicle.

In my tenure at my current school, which is just a few years shy of a decade, the students that have appeared on my roll sheet haven’t had much experience with changing technology.  Sure, they can tell you all the features of the new HTC Envy smart phone or that their cousin can jail break an iPhone, but they have had no clue of the power of Web 2.0.  Up until recently I’ve been too apprehensive to show them, either.  Because of their lack of resources I have held back on presenting applications like Dropbox, Edmodo, Schoology, and the like.  It wasn’t until the comfort level I needed to feel was reached that piloting a few sites seemed like a good idea.  Thankfully, although I’m not sure if the chicken (my knowledge) or the egg (a good batch of students) came along first, piloting proved successful and turned into full-on implementation.

This year we’re stumbling our way through the aforementioned sites.  Stumbling is the appropriate word because there will forever be pitfalls with the network, someone forgetting their password, a fire drill in the middle of class, and many other things, but we’re getting by.  It’s exciting to me to see the students brag that they put Edmodo on their smart phone, or Quizlet, as if to say, “School is cool since I can ‘play’ it on my phone.”  It’s asking a lot to prepare them to be digital citizens and to embrace the technological onslaught of proficiency standards they should be at, but I’m going to make it my mission to do my best.  

Along the way I’l share my anecdotes, successes, epic fails, and whatever happens in between.  Enjoy the ride!

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One thought on “Web 2.0.1?

  1. I used to look forward to the line of excuses presented to me after a night where I assigned homework. “I forgot my textbook at school” – “My sister had a late night soccer game” – “I don’t remember how to do this” – “Oops, I forgot we even had homework” I’ve heard them all, laughed at some and rolled my eyes at most because I’ve never taken excuses as a viable reason to not have homework. My school uses Choice Theory to explain it – you chose to do the work… or you didn’t! Simple as that. You prioritized things and my work came up at the butt of the list so it didn’t happen last night. We know things come up in our students’ busy lives but the beauty of blogging, online classes, the portability of “knowledge” (through Quizlet, Quia, PollEverywhere, Edmodo, etc.) is that it reduces all of these excuses to almost non-existent and puts the responsibility back where it lies – on the student. Students have 24/7 access to things we put online for them to complete, they can see textbooks online and in their iPads or tablets, and they can quickly pull up reminders, descriptions, and help about any topic (through your site, Google, or by communicating with a peer through technology). I love that you’ve jumped into technology because I think you’ll find it to engage students and keep them coming back for the next cool thing.

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