Open or closed learning for our teachers

You know, it is interesting to see how online social networking and use of tools has developed this year in education. Somehow we seem to be reaching a kind of critical mass (at least in my schools) where Web 2.0 tools are not new in concept, even if they are new in practice.

Sue waters writes a good reflection on ownership and online communities. You may like to add your comments to the debate over there.

It’s what the game is all about in schools – getting ownership from teachers! That is the hardest part of all, and the game plan for increasing ownership is not necessarily clear given the continued emergence of new tools online. It’s in the doing that we discover what is possible – no amount of talking will explain social networking and web 2.0 learning.

What I am amazed at is that I am actually getting calls from school principals asking that I provide some Web 2.0 training to their teachers. What I also know is that this is just an entry point – and that 2 hours of training in blogging will only launch 2 out of 10 people on the journey. But you have to start, and the reality is that some teachers need to have assistance every step of the way because they are digital immigrants, and there is nothing intuitive about web 2.0 for many of them. This is not bad, it is just how it is. Others, of course, need no training – they are the gems in our schools and their praises should be sung far and wide.

I am particularly pleased to see universities introducing e-learning in all its Web 2.0 forms for trainee teachers. I’ve watched some interesting developments this year as students from all sorts of places have ‘studied’ HeyJude. In fact, right now, I’m getting blog hits for ‘the essay’ in one of the courses.

But there is one BIG concern I have about all this, whether in schools, or in degree courses training future teachers.

There is a particular depth to Web 2.0 that takes time, and thought – and training for many – that we are not acknowledging, or providing sufficient support for. Those fantastic educators in my blogroll (especially the teachers) are great examples of those who have ‘done it alone’. Those Principals who blog, and who encourage their teachers to reach out to Web 2.0 as platform are (for me) the real innovators in our schools.

Because we are working with digital natives, the whole idea that we can ask them to show us what to do is also incorrect – peer networking and social networking is not the same thing as learning in a social online environment. That’s our job to figure out!

I would like to see a concerted level of support for my teachers. I would like to see more than experimentation in the training of new teachers. Too much of what we do ‘entry level’ and as such is NOT meeting the needs of our learners. The pace is quickening – for sure. Just because Web 2.0 is “out there” doesn’t mean for a minute that it will move easily and transparently into our classrooms.

If you are not convinced that teachers and students are on a learning journey with Web 2.0, then check out the reflection from Jo McLeay on  Blogging the and now - student and teacher two years ago, and today!  Heck, when Jo was doing this first time around, I hardly even knew that blogs existed. Embarrassing :-(

Check out what Dean has to say about his students who HAVE been blogging. (Dean is a great model and mentor for his students working with current and cutting edge technology) These boy’s blogs helped them to win an IT traineeship amongst fierce competition. Well done fellas!

What we need is a transparent, inspirational, and open strategy…to embed Web 2.0 transformation into learning.

Photos: Open, Closed

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