Today is the first day of my summer education. My first class is a Web 2.0 class offered through our Area Education Agency. So far I've set up a gmail account, learned how to use evernote.com, and created my first blog (you're reading it right now!). Don't you feel lucky to be a part of this new learning experience? Cool, huh? If I go home today with at least one new piece of knowledge, then I can call this day successful. Well, guess what? I've already learned three new things so I can go home satisfied.
Reading Will Richardson's book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms has made me think about the things that I do in my classroom and the things that I should be doing in my classroom. Because my Communications I & II classes are new, I've got a lot of room for improvement. While reading this book it became obvious that I have a huge responsibility to teach my students about the benefits of online reading, writing, and thinking, but that I must also include the safety, responsibility, and acceptability aspect of web use. They know HOW to use a lot of these tools already, but do they know how to evaluate what they read; do they know how to be responsible users; do they know how to keep themselves safe from the ever-present cyberspace predators out there? It is my responsibility to teach them that once they put something into cyberspace, it's out there for good and that they need to consider the future implications of what they are doing today. "What if" is the question they need to consider...What if someone finds this 5 years from now? What if I'm trying to secure a job and a potential employer were to see this? How will this affect my reputation or what I stand for?
As I read I began to ask the following questions:
What needs to change about my curriculum when my students have the ability to reach audiences far beyond my classroom?
What changes do I need to make in my teaching as it becomes easier to bring primary sources to my students?
How do I need to rethink my ideas of literacy when I must prepare my students to become not only readers and writers, but editors and collaborators and publishers as well?
How can I as a learner begin to take advantage of the opportunities these tools present, so that I may understand more clearly the pedagogies of using them in my classroom?
There is no way that I, as an educator, can be stagnant. I MUST continue to be a student learner as well.
So, what possible benefits might I find if/when I starting using web tools to enhance student learning? I liked Richardson's statement, "Writing stops; blogging continues. Writing is inside; blogging is outside. Writing is monologue; blogging is conversation. Writing is theses; blogging is synthesis..." If this is true, then why wouldn't I as a teacher want to use blogging in my classroom. Don't I want my students to continue to think, write, and converse?
So...I continue on my quest as a student learner. And I've come to this profound conclusion: The more I study and learn, the more I discover how little I really know. Kinda scary, huh?