So I’m supposed to reflect on the past three and a half months and discuss my key learning for this last (?!) blog post. That’s easy, I learned everything that was covered in this course! (I know that sounds so much like a middle years kid response, but I’m serious, let me explain . . .) My vast lack of knowledge on the topic of Web 2.0 tools only paled in comparison to how much I learned about them in this course. When I first started I didn’t even know what “Web 2.0” meant, let alone what tools were available online and at my disposal. So what did I learn? I learned what Web 2.0 means, that these tools exist and not only are they relevant to teaching and learning, but they will probably become essential! I still shocks me how in the dark I was before this course!
Definitely one of the lowlights of this course is that I feel like I have not left the computer for 3 months (you know like Rip Van Winkle, only instead of sleeping I’ve been blogging!) I was so totally immersed in the world of Web 2.0, and now I understand how learning a language through immersion works, you really have no choice but to learn it! But even though I feel like I haven’t left to computer for eons, the structure of this course did allow me to learn an immense amount in a very short period of time and now I feel totally comfortable going out into the “unknown” to learn tools we didn’t cover (like Trailfire, Glogster, webquests, pathfinders . . .).
Oh, there were definitely times when I felt I was going to overload my brain circuits and my husband would find me stuttering in front of the screen saver at 3 am. But once I learned to manage my time and the information coming at me, I became adept at learning the tool, researching their use by others and blogging about it all.
What do I plan for the future? Well I’ve already created the class wiki which I hope to use as an easily updateable site for handouts, info on assignments, to show case student work and as a starting point for most of my projects. (I plan to do a lot more project type learning and a lot less worksheet type learning too.) I also set up a “class update blog” and my plan is to assign one student per week to write short (paragraph long-ish) daily updates on what was covered in class and then provide one “good” link to further information on that topic. Of course, I need to discuss evaluating websites with the students (our province has a good link to a sample lesson plan when the students have to look at some fake websites and determine if they are real or not!) as well as some (a lot?) digital citizenship stuff (such as appropriate language, cyber bullying, online safety measures, respect for others work, plagiarism etc. All these links are sample lesson plans from the Manitoba Government). I also have two bigger projects in mind, one involving the class wiki as an online science text and the other involving students teaching other students using Trailfire, sort of like an online virtual jigsaw. But I haven’t fully formalized those ideas yet! I also hope to use Voicethread and have been searching for curricularly (is that a word?) applicable podcasts to use with students. I also have some ideas about booking our computer lab for Student led conferences and having the students show their parents everything they can do (hopefully!) for their conference. I know it’s a lot, but if I don’t get it all in this year, then there’s always the next year and the next and the next and . . . .
Will I keep blogging? YES! I plan to keep trying new things and telling whoever’s out there what I learned and thought. I also plan to do some reflecting on what I’m doing with my students, you know what’s working and what’s bot! I also hope to eventually use this blog as a “show and tell” for my colleagues in a PD aimed at convincing them of the benefits of Web 2.0 tools!
Oh, and speaking of colleagues, how can I even begin to explain the amazing experience of learning from, with and through peers who have such a vast amount of knowledge and insight to share!!? I made some friends along the way, people I feel I will be able to call upon when (or if?) I get a TL position for advice and guidance and I also learned quite a bit about Web 2.0 from their blog posts and discussions. Three of my favourite blog posts by colleagues are Heather’s ABC’s of Blogging, April’s KWL on RSS, and Selena’s The Strange World of Social Networking Sites. What's more, is through the discussion site and my fellow classmates’ blogs I was able to learn about how my own fellow teachers may react to the world of Web 2.0. How did conversing with virtual strangers (now friends!) help me learn about the friends with whom I work at my school? That’s easy, the insights, experiences, feelings and thoughts of my classmates (and myself!) ran the gamut from fearful and nervous to wary and careful to skeptical and doubtful to excited and eager. This is the same journey I expect that most of my colleagues at school will go through too. But in the end we all (I think) came to the conclusion that Web 2.0 tools are incredibly important and have great impacts on our teaching and the learning of our students. Knowing that we made it through gives me hope that my colleagues at school will too!
Saying bye for now (and see you in January)