Yoyo-ing about web 2.0

Reading Kim Cofino’s recent post and watching the presentations on 21st century learning, I am both daunted and inspired.  I feel like I have been in a coma for 10 years, and woken up to a whole new world that I don’t quite understand. 

First of all, the more I read, the more I feel out of the loop.  It seems as though there are thousands of teachers out there managing to incorporate new technology into their lessons.  They have umpteen ideas for its use and their students are benefiting from their expertise and guidance.  In trying to adapt, I am experiencing severe changes in emotion over this.  At times I feel excited at the prospects; at others I feel like I’m never going to get to grips with it all.

Teachermac talks about connectivism and so does this post over on Once a Teacher.  I am beginning to appreciate the need to develop my own pln, and to encourage my students to do the same.  I have to say, though, that this would certainly be easier if I worked in a laptop/tablet school.  I love the idea of collaborative note-taking [see Less Chalk, More Talk] and have begun taking steps towards this.  A colleague set up a wiki for his students to use in IB Biology.  The original idea was that the students themselves contribute to it by completing a series of questions from the syllabus.  However, these great intentions became derailed somewhat as he discovered only a handful of students could work on the wiki at one time.  In the end, he wrote the bulk of the answers himself, which defeated the purpose of student involvement.  This took a huge amount of time and effort on his part to set up, but now, although it is a great online resource, it is simply like a textbook rather than an interactive tool.

So, I suppose, I am basically reflecting here on where to concentrate my efforts.  I recognize I cannot do it all.  I know I have to be selective in where my energy goes.  This makes it all the more important to choose right.

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7 responses to “Yoyo-ing about web 2.0

  1. Nadine… do not be overly frustrated. To tell you not to be frustrated would be to discredit the natural learning process that you are and will continue to go through.

    From my perspective, you are doing the right things. Not only are you connecting in forums like The Synapse, but just as importantly… you are manning your own blog as a teacher/writer. I really think this is a crucial piece. What will likely start out as a powerful tool for reflection… will certainly become even more of a tool for you in many ways as you continue.

    It’s ok, as you say to “feel out of the loop.” What that says is that you aim to be as informed and connected as is possible. That equates to the simple fact that not only CAN you get there… but you are doing it on the fly.

    Build your PLN. Build it up until the point you crash from too much “connectedness.” Take some steps back… reflect and review… keep what is most crucial to you. But yes- continue to immerse yourself.

    I’m certainly no expert, but if someone would have been able to describe what would have worked for me, that would be it.

    Nice work on the blog so far, keep up the immersion! 😉

    Sean

  2. Kate Klingensmith

    I know exactly how you feel! I left the classroom in June, after only 4 years, to work for an education startup for a friend. When I started snooping around on web 2.0, seeing and hearing all of the incredible things that were happening with some educators already integrating blogs and PLNs and podcasts into their repertoire, I was intimidated. But, I’ve thought alot about how I was at a high-performing school, with alot of very new, young, and outstanding teachers, and NONE of them were doing this yet.

    I think that this is only the beginning!! I think we’re thinking about things that hundreds of thousands of teachers aren’t thinking about yet – probably because they’re simply too busy with one of the hardest jobs in the world 🙂 Yes, there are many educators that started way earlier, but they’ve only made it easier for others to jump in. So, it’s a good thing you and I, and all of the other edubloggers/twitterers/classroom2.0-members/etc., are getting the word out!!

  3. G. Steve McCallum

    Nadine,
    Looks like you are getting ‘in the loop’ pretty fast to me. You aren’t waiting for you PLN to develop, its seems you are putting the pieces in place at a fairly quick pace. I know that having blogging part of our course requirements helps.

    As for collaborative note taking, check out Google Notebook. Not only a great way for you to keep notes using different computers, but you can share individual notebooks with others, similar to Google Docs.

    Thanks for all your insightful posts and comments,
    Steve

  4. A speaker at a conference I went to recently (I can’t remember who, I’m afraid) said “Learning is messy“, which I find to be a very useful concept to keep in mind when it all feels a bit overwhelming.

    As for the number of teachers all transforming their teaching with tech, I had the same thought as Kate above – there may be thousands of them online (and they all seem to have it all together, right?), but that still leaves millions who are no further along than you, so there’s no need to feel disheartened because of that. And most of the ones who do seem to have it all together are still learning and struggling. It’s a recursive process of trying something out, reflecting, adjusting and then having another go.

    As for the multi-user aspect of a wiki, that’s true in some ways but not in others. For particular pages, you only have asynchronous multi-user access – i.e. you can’t edit the same page at the same time. In other words, it’s not so useful if everyone needs to edit the wiki during class and there’s a good chance they may try to edit the same page at the same time. As Steve points out, Google Docs alleviates this by allowing for more than one editor at the same time (up to six, I think), but Google Docs is not as easy if you want a complex creation with many, many pages. If you have a private wiki, you invite all the users, but then they all have access to all the pages within it. Google docs, on the other hand, are shared individually, one file at a time, so if you have 100 documents, the invited users will receive 100 invitations. Much harder to manage…

    I agree about choosing what works for you. I have an account on so many, many online services, but only use a small subset of them. (As for managing all these account details, I use the same username and password when signing up for each, though, so if I ever go back to a site a year later to give it a second look, I know what to log in with.)

  5. I totally understand the feelings you describe Nadine. I think we all go through a process of feeling like we’re drowning in information and just can’t seem to catch up.

    The most important thing is to just keep trying. Keep sharing your reflections here and, as Sean said, keep building your PLN. It’s only through experience that you can determine what will be the most relevant and effective for your learning needs.

    My advice is to start small. There is too much, changing too fast, to ever attempt to know everything. Try one thing at a time, and see if it works for you. Use your PLN to help you filter through it all. Build your confidence level with one thing at a time. Let the rest just wash over you. If it’s relevant, it will come back.

    This is not to say that it will be easy or that you won’t feel overwhelmed. I feel overwhelmed every day. But I know that I can figure things out if I need to, I know I have a network of people always willing to help and that the answers are out there. One step at a time…

  6. pelkeymatt

    Nadine,

    I have enjoyed reading through your posts and appreciate the comments you have left on my posts.

    I totally can relate to your feelings of being overwhelmed. As I visit different blogs, I find I get lost very easily. I feel like I read interesting posts and receive comments on my own posts, but have a hard time responding and keeping a conversation alive. The analogy I think of is being at a cocktail party where I ask a question to one person and go listen to another conversation forgetting all about the other conversation I started. It’s hard for me to organize my time in effectively communicating via the blog.

    I am quite impressed with the network you seem to have established already and your ability to carry a variety of conversations throughout the blogging community.

  7. dickinsonn

    @Sean
    Thanks for the comments and advice. I love The Synapse, and hope to start using it more and more. I will certainly be spreading the word amongst other international biology teachers in my network.

    @Kate
    I appreciate your comments and empathy. Thanks!

    @Steve
    Glad to have you as a blogging buddy! I’m still working on an imaginative name for this blog, and I can’t come up with anything better than Organic Classroom.

    @Ståle
    Good advice – and you should be proud of how much this course is making us think about what we do as educators! But I guess that’s the whole point, right?

    @Kim
    Thanks for the supportive and encouraging comments. Your blog is an inspiration to keep learning.

    @Matt
    Likewise. Love the cocktail party analogy. Too true! It is hard to select which conversations to join, and which to just listen to, and which to ignore.

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