Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Web 2.0, New Tools, New Schools -- Chapter 9

Learning via social network! That is what the digital native desires -- I'm not talking about social networks mySpace and Facebook (these are recreational), but social networks teachers establish for learning. Today, students want to participate in a social atmosphere while they learn -- they want to be creators and contributors, but also are open to the ideas and happenings of others. When teachers view classroom management strategies it is usually how to control students to be behave so they can have them engage in traditional learning exercises in the classroom. I think teachers need to review that viewpoint -- how can we get students to become part of the learning network (talking and creating with their peers). Solomon and Schrum hinted that teachers should rethink and re-look at how their teaching styles affect the learner of today.

The issue of access for all students is of great concern to me. To learn that 42% of U.S. households have either no computer or have a computer with no Internet access was mindboogling to me. (Solomon and Schrum, p. 187) I know that my school has 30% of its population with no computer or no Internet access and that concerns me. I do not read in information (books, online, magazines, etc) about how the divide between technology haves and have nots is being closed and that concerns me. It will mean that we will have students leave school without skills that they need, because not all schools have access to technology as well -- so these students are not being given access at home or at school. I have a personal experience with this issue -- I had a young man stop by my library this past school year with papers in hand. He looked uncomfortable so I approached him and asked how I might help him. He said he had to have his paper typed and he didn't have a computer at home and could he use one here at school. Of course, I offered him the use of one of the library's computers. He approached the computers and stared at it blankly -- I asked what the problem was and he said he was new to school and didn't know how to use the computer -- he had never (at the age of 16) used a computer, that his family did not have one at home. So, of course, I sat down with him, showed him how to access his account, how to organize his applications for easy use, and said okay let me know if you need any more help. The confused look on his faced continued as he said to me very quietly -- I've never typed anything on the computer -- I always write my papers by hand, but the teacher won't accept it unless it is typed this time. I had to teach him how to use the word processor and how to print it when he completed his paper (with hunt and peck typing). My point in telling this story is that we must not assume that all students have the technological capability to use Web 2.0 tools just because we do and most students do. We, as educators, need to be concerned with technological haves and have nots and help our students gain access so they can begin to use Web 2.0 tools for the coming School 2.0 of the future.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Web 2.0, New Tools, New Schools -- Chapter 7 (online safety and security)

Educators know the great responsibility we have to keep students safe -- there is lock down, fire drills, earthquake drills, how to handle fights between students, etc. -- but we also must be responsible for the safety of students when they go online! MySpace and Facebook are filters in our district for this very reason --they are networks for predators to use to identify possible victims. I do believe that most young adults are more savvy than they use to be when chats and social networks first appeared on a large scale, but still if we do not inform them of the possible dangers we will be remiss in our duties. We cannot assume that someone else has taught online safety -- we must engage students in it ourselves and reteach and refresh them of the knowledge frequently. A simple "Cyber Awareness Survey" (p. 141, Web 2.0, Solomon, Schrum) like the one in our text would open discussion for thought and serve as a reminder for students to be aware and be careful while going online.

Educators must also be aware of the responsibility to teach our youth about copyright and providing the information about the creator of original works when using them in presentations or written papers. Students who grow up documenting will always document. It is necessary to let them know there is a legal responsibility to follow the MLA or APA citation rules -- that credit is due to those who have created the work or information they find -- whether in a book or while surfing the net. I liked the idea of creating a Student and Teacher Information Code of Ethics that all students and teachers would following at a school site. Students need to learn about Creative Commons, about how to use web 2.0 tools responsively, and about what it means to be a true cyber citizen in today's world.

Cyberbullying needs to be eliminated, at the very least, reduced to a minimum. Through education students can learn that this is a crime with punishments given if caught. This is no different than bullying someone in the hallway or on the playground. It is no different that making inappropriate phone calls. It is harmful, hurtful, and illegal -- if we do not tell our students then they will not know that they shouldn't and think it is okay. Knowledge is power and it is our job as educators to empower our students to be safe and secure in their lives -- making sure we include the use of the Internet, online social networking, and emailing.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Web 2.0, New Tools, New Schools -- Chapter 2 (students and learning)

Technology and its customization is important to the 21st century student. Educators needs to learn how to meet the needs of their students based on their student's expectations, not the teachers in regards to how the student learns. Everyone learns in their own unique way -- but today's students want technology included in their process for learning and in the teaching they receive from teachers. That is where these digital natives are most comfortable (and we know that environment plays a huge role in the learning process), but educators have not arrived at the same point that their students have. Perhaps the tipping point will arrive soon and I do believe the tipping point is on the way. Solomon and Schrum share in their book, Web 2.o, New Tools, New Schools, "Students come to school knowledgeable about the Web and its potential, are comfortable using it, and expect learning in school to be more like learning on their own." I feel today's students will embrace the concept of being lifelong learners as they mature, but do need to be provided with the tools to be a lifelong learner and that is where educators(and librarians) can have a hug impact on 21st century students and society as a whole. We have a huge responsibility to direct our youth in the proper direction for the greater good of society. In order to do so we must step up to the plate and be willing make changes in the way we educate students.

I found the revision to Bloom's Taxonomy extremely interesting and am glad that it has happened. I do hope that many educators will embrace these changes as positive and note how they fall in alignment with the use of Web 2.o tools and how students of the 21st century think. This revised taxonomy allows for the move to creating and sharing -- rather than clicking and linking when using technology. This new hierarchy of learning will assist students in preparing themselves for the job market that is yet to come and enable them to acquire the skills needed to adapt when necessary to new and different jobs (jobs we don't even know that exist as yet). We, as educators, must accept that the new revolution in society is connectivism -- just because it makes older educators uncomfortable doesn't mean it makes our students uncomfortable or some of our colleagues. Change is in the wind and we need to accept it. The challenge being thrust upon us is to learn to tell our stories in a different way and through a different media than we have ever done so before. I am excited about the challenge and plan to have fun learning along the way!

Web 2.0, New Tools, New Schools -- Chapter 1 (new world, new web, new skills)

Solomon and Schrum in their book, Web 2.o, New Tools, New Schools share the following ideas in Chapter 1:

"By the early 2000's, the notion of interactivity went from linking and clicking to creating and sharing. Now individuals not only find and read information but also create and share their own in real time. It is a new Web, known as Web. 2.0." Wow! This is the essence of how to describe the premise behind Web 2.0 tools and why digital natives love them. To create something of your own and share it with others to improve it, learn from it, or simply enjoy it is so powerful for not only the individual, but for connected groups as well. The clicking and linking concept is so singular whereas the new Web 2.0 is global in perspective.

"In the future, how we educate our children may prove to be more important than how much we educate them(Binder, cited in Friedman, 2005, p. 302)." Wow again! It will not be how much we educate our students because they will have embraced the concept of lifelong learners and not even realize it. The Web 2.o tools will draw them into learning as a natural extension of who they are, but for that to happen educators must embrace a way of teaching -- a new way of motivating students to what to learn -- instilling the desire to learn must be the paramount focus in this new age of Web. 2.0. Students who embrace the idea of self learning will do well and be employable -- if they embrace the concept of creating and sharing they will acquire the skills needed in job market, in essence they will be able to teach themselves to do any job they want.

"It is important to ask: Who will be prepared for the new world? Who will have the technological and thinking skills needed for the 21st century? And how can we help them prepare?" Those who embrace the ideas of sharing creating and understand the tools that can assist with these ideas will be ready for the 21st century. Many corporations are now expecting student to be ready with technological tools that enable them to create and share for the betterment of the company. Students will not be prepared for the 21st century workplace if educators do not begin to prepare them -- if educators do not embrace that they need to change the means by which they teach -- educators must step up and acknowledge that Web 2.0 is here and should be used to empower themselves as well as their students because education is remaining stagnant, but is changing and changing rapidly.