Sunday, December 21, 2008

School 2.0

Am I really embracing web 2.0? Not quite. My district is piloting an online grading system, one in which parents and students can have unlimited access (not for at least a year though). Our high school teachers must use it. We were asked at the middle school if we wanted to try it; I am the technology teacher in my school, and I voted no (yikes)! Our helicopter parents would have a field day with this option, I thought (not to mention how difficult it would be for me to keep it up-to-date). Yet, I know if grades had been available to me when my own children were in school, I would have loved it (and them too). At this point, only a handful of our teachers are using the new program, and I'm not one of them. I guess I should say I'm starting to soften; after all, it would eliminate the dreaded crunch at report card time. I do understand the need for individual and continuous feedback. I guess it's time for me to get on board!
Learning how to learn is surely a must skill for students. In my computer literacy classes, the primary focus is on teaching applications. However, year to year, some of these change—case in point: update to Office 2007 or consider the changes in iLife '08 (especially iMovie!). Students need to be aware of tools/skills available to them to adjust to the changes— analytical skills, help menus, tutorials, blogs, etc.
Web 2.0 requires that schools adapt to enhance students' learning experiences. School districts can adapt by providing the necessary resources, but as importantly, teachers must use the tools available. Students in my school are not allowed to bring any electronic devices to school (yet we all know that their iPods and cell phones are tucked away into those backpacks). We do support technology more than many other NH public schools. Students are beginning to blog (within the district only) and use Moodle to communicate. They learn the basics of animation, movie-making, and web design. But after watching a few videos on the Partnership for 21st Century Learning's Route 21 website, I can see how we need to go to the next step. There is so much unleashed power in digital imaging, visual literacy, and global communication and collaboration. Yes, we are a good school, but we must strive for something better.
Continuous professional development—so very important. Yet our core teachers have many things they want to learn about, and new technology is only a part of the whole. As technology educators, we must be the leaders for the school 2.0 initiative (even if it is not in the job description). We must share our knowledge in any way possible. In my job, I find that teaching my students all day long is only part of the job. Teaching teachers the hows of using technology in their classrooms takes up most of my 'free' time (before, during, and after the school day). I would love to be a technology integrator (but my school district doesn't have one). How fun it would be to spend my time developing technology-rich lessons for different classes all day long. Instead, I teach the students programs which they might or might not use in their other classes. It is so important that we encourage our colleagues to buy into this plan (but there aren't enough hours in a day!). Hmmm…food for thought.
How disappointing--NH is not a P21 Leadership State, yet Maine and Massachusetts are. We finally adopted the 2007 ICT NETS for Students; maybe our application is in? I say if Apple Computers, one of the foundations' founders, thinks it's a good thing, then it must be a good thing!
Where are we with School 2.0--connecting schools, districts, and communities for fostering creativity, connection, communication, community, collaboration, innovation, exploration, individualization, efficiency...with an understanding that knowing and learning are best friends? The good news is that BMS has entered the onramp of 'Route 21'; the bad news (or maybe it's good news) is that someone needs to maintain the highway. Hopefully I'll pass my drivers test when this course is over and bring a whole bunch of passengers along with me on this journey!


  1. What School 2.0 looks at is not having technology be "just another thing" but be "school". We talk about there are a lot of things that teachers need to know and technology should be embedded into those things.

    You should not be able to talk about reading without talking about technology and digital literacy.

    You should not be able to talk about writing without talking about e-mail and digital literacy.

    Science? Social Studies? The web is these two subjects to the core.

    Sure teachers have a lot to learn and to keep up on, but if we keep treating technology as "just one more thing" then that is exactly what it becomes.

    The bigger issue to me is we treat it as "just one more thing" to teach students yet we as educators could not get along without it.

    Try taking e-mail away from a teacher, or take their computer away for a week and see what happens (I've done's not pretty). We know how much technology is a part of or daily lives, why do we keep pretending it isn't for our students?

    Technology conversations in schools should be like oxygen. Allows happening, continuous, and required. School 2.0 has learning at it's base, technologies are nothing more than the new tools we use to get to the information we need to teach and learn. It's using Google Earth (free) rather than a pull down map. It's watching a video on current events (youtube) rather than reading about it. It's understanding that learning happens when we connect information, not when we memorize facts for a test.

    School 2.0 is about more than technology, it is about learning in new connective ways. Ways that were not possible in School 1.0 and that lead to deeper understanding and knowledge because of the connections that can take place.

    School 2.0 is a mind set. How long before our minds are there?

  2. I think that maybe the biggest problem is the inequity in our schools across the country. Fortunately for me, technology is a high priority in my district. Yet, we have so far to go to make it School 2.0. It is a challenge...and yes, a mindset indeed.

  3. The 21st century highway is a long bumpy road. There are hills, mountains and valleys to get through before you feel you may be making a difference. The biggest thing that one can do with the School 2.0 mindset, would be to keep an open mind, push a little bit to explain the benefits of web 2.0, and always know that in the end, it is for the students future!

  4. Jeff's question "How long before our minds are there?" makes me think about my districts continual cutting of all budgets and even possitions. Funding is making a difference and the progress of reaching that mindset. How long before our schools are willing to accept and use the students own technologies (ipods, cell phones) to their advantage? Using what they have may help bridge the widening gap created by budget issues.