I've finally gotten organised and uploaded a pdf of Web technology leaves SA schools behind, the newspaper article I was interviewed and photographed for. The journalist was David Sly, whose recent family challenges have been well documented over on Mike Seyfang's blog, and he was very considerate of me and my uncertainty about being interviewed on my Web 2.0 views. I'd be interested in any readers' impressions about the article - and the photographer did a great job framing me up between two dated library computers.
I thought the article did a good job of laying out the issues. I certainly agree with you that “Teachers are going to be better educators by knowing what’s out there now and becoming familiar with Web 2.O tools.” The strategic problem for me, assuming the problems of access and bureaucratic inertia can be resolved, is how to bring teachers on board. Showing them the tools is one step, but in my experience most of them are not going to respond to that. At our school, perhaps half a dozen people have gotten started this year with their own wikis and blogs— a few of them also doing so with their students—and now others are coming on board, one here and one there, as the curiosity factor kicks in; but those involved are mostly the early adopters who have the nature and the inclination to experiment with new ideas anyway.
The great majority of our teachers are, understandably enough, going to be reluctant to respond and wary of getting into something not only new but complicated and time-consuming and potentially hard to control, especially when they’ve already got a way of doing things that they think is already working just fine. So one of the challenges for those of us that are trying to change the way our classes work is to create structures and materials that are so interesting and facilitate the creation of student work that is so compelling that people who aren’t doing it are going to feel left out or left behind. What I think we can do for one another is to share and celebrate those kinds of successes wherever we see them.
Great article Graham – not just an SA issue – same all over! We’ll all keep working on tipping the balance – it won’t happen overnight but it will happen 🙂
Nice article and some very valid points well made Graham. I do really feel for you folks over in SA. Here in Vic at least we have a recognition that Web 2.0 is important, (or is it rather a benign non-acknowledgment in the hope that nothing goes wrong). At present we can participate in a department sponsored blogging portal project based on James Farmer’s learnerblogs/wordpress blogs that is being conducted as a research project by the School Library Association, but is freely available to schools. As well we can access learnerblogs, wikispaces and a range of other Web 2.0 apps from within the school.
This is not universal across the states however as I do remember a vigorous exchange between Michael C and some folks from Education Queensland at the end of last year as Michael was trying to set up blogs with his classes. The tenor of the conversation was something like “blogs outside the restricted EQ environment were just too much of a risk” and that an internal solution was being sought, (where that leaves collaboration across the globe or the joy of noting who in the world is viewing your blog I am not so sure).
This argument is perhaps understandable however, if we are supposed to be educating our students in digital literacy and at the same time include aspects of social values then it is extremely difficult, (read nigh on impossible), to instruct on the educational capabilities of Web 2.0 and also the social responsibilities of using this technology, (which many of our students are using out of school), if we can’t actually access it. It makes a mockery of the need to teach children how to stay safe in chat rooms/My Space/blogs etc if we can’t actually exemplify this practice.
Off the soap box now 🙂
Congratulations on stating the position so clearly – particularly for teachers in school systems that limit access to Web 2.0 technologies. We need more media coverage like this to move the agenda forward for our nextgen kids.