Confessions of a Web 2.0 wannabe


Where do we start?

Where do we start?

Saturday monring started off as usual: sleep in, make coffee, check Twitter. Since Twitter is a big part of my personal learning network (PLN) I never know quite what to expect or what I’ll learn each time I check Tweets from my Tweeple. Well that morning one of the first things I saw was that someone was streaming a workshop on Classroom 2.0 in Chicago. Easy enough. Just click on the link and I’m watching through someone’s webcam as they are presenting in Chicago. So far, so good. Free peeking into someone’s presentation 1800 miles away. Next thing I hear, they are going to be asking for people to Skype in and share about our Web 2.0 experiences. I look at the list of fellow lurkers and there’s only about 8 people on the list. One of them is getting cold feet already because it’s Steve Hargadon on the other end leading the workshop. I’m like, it’s only Steve. I’ve got my Skype account, my webcam setting on top of my lamp pointing at me, how hard could it be. After listening to several others Skype in without video, I dial up Steve and they answer. They’re glad I have video because using Skype with video is one of the facets they want to show the perople there. Now I’m up on their big screen and I begin to see how large the room really is. Educators from all over the Chicago area eager to hear what great things I am doing with Web 2.0 at my school. I start by sharing who I am and where I live. I am Tech Coordinator of my school and Chairman of the District tech committee. And then one of the attendees asked me, “What web 2.0 tools or web sites do students at your school seem to like best or use most?” Uhhh. My mind went blank. Well, other than the occasional podcast they create in 8th grade computer class, or the Wetpaint wiki I started for 6th graders last year, students at my school don’t really do much in the way of web 2.0 stuff because TEACHERS at my school don’t know much about what is out there. And I realized that I really haven’t been doing all that much to get my staff going in this direction. 


So what are people in other school really doing? Or are there many like me who are learning a lot everyday, but not really sure how to get going? What is the best first step? What is truly considered a web 2.0 tool anyway? Did the people at the workshop see me as I saw myself, as someone who really isn’t using much in the way of web 2.0 tools WITH the students yet?

Steve noticed that my daughter was near me earlier when I Skyped in. He asked me what SHE liked to do on the Internet. I called her over and asked her. I knew she had been finding lots of great sites on her own that kept her busy in all of her spare time. So I asked her to tell the people what her favorite web 2.0 site she used. Her answer? Club Penquin. Yeah, I said, it’s a great tool for her to learn beginning social networking. OK. Well, that went well. Hang up. Thank you. Goodbye. Fortunately, I think they were all ready for lunch and weren’t really thinking too much about my lack of web 2.0 success at my school.

Today I really started thinking about it. What WERE other schools doing? I posted the question to Google and one link I found right away was “A Day in the Life of Web 2.0” by David Warlick and posted onthe TechLearning web site. The date? October 2006. Two years ago! And what were web 2.0 teachers doing? Downloading podcasts, blogging, using social bookmarks, syndicating using RSS, using wikis, recording class presentations for podcasts. And much more. This was TWO YEARS ago already!

At least, I told myself, I was heading IN THE RIGHT direction for the last 6 months anyway. I started my own Ning for teachers in my district, use Twitter everyday to keep learning, and keep putting new ideas in front of my teachers when I can to make them more aware of the great tools that are out there for them and their students on the Internet. But there is only so much they can accomplish and they always seem to be so busy do school the regular way. What is it going to take to convince them that there are some great Web 2.0 tools that will improve the way they teacher and students learn?


8 responses to “Confessions of a Web 2.0 wannabe

  1. I understand what you’re saying. Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing enough in our district, too. Moreover, as a tech guy who works in a cubicle all day, I often don’t see what goes on in the schools, and what cool tools teachers are using in their classrooms. There can be an unfortunate disconnect there.

    This is why I always get excited when I hear some of our teachers are doing cool things, like podcasting with their elementary students, using Google Docs and wikis for collaborative projects in their class, or crossing classroom boundaries and collaborating with other classrooms. These are the teachers who, I’ve found, can carry the message to other teachers who may not have quite caught up yet.

  2. Sounds like you are doing the right thing. It’s hard to force teachers to adopt new tools. Too often – especially at first – they see thing you show them “one more thing to learn” rather than a tool that makes good teaching easier, and adds opportunities to connect and learn in new ways. Keep at it, and don’t get discouraged.

    We do actually use a lot of Web 2.0 in our curriculum, and students have to demonstrate competence in use of Social Networking tools in order to graduate. We have over 10,500 wiki pages that teachers and students have created with our curriculum standards, projects and collaborative activities between classrooms and schools. All of it “bottom up” rather than “top down”.

    They get it! We still have a long way to go, though. Lots of opportunities to do more, and do the things we do better.

    Couple of our sites to check are all linked through the main BSSD (Bering Strait School District) website:

    The Open Content wiki is one you’ll want to poke around in. Feel free to contribute, and don’t get discouraged. We can RARELY find people with your attitude and skillset when we are hiring, so that means you are on the right track 😉


    John Concilus
    Director of Educational Technology

  3. Alan,

    The sad thing is, St. Paul’s is light year ahead of many of our other Lutheran Schools in our district. The funny thing is, although that article is 2 years old, we are already 8 years into the 21st century. What I have noticed is parents dictate much of what goes on in the classroom. It doesn’t matter how much I want to use Blogs, Wikis, VoiceThread, Animoto, Digital Cameras, if the parents aren’t with you, it is useless. In fact they will even fight against you because they don’t know what it is. They want the drill and kill methods. We need to change how our parents look at education and realize education needs a change!

    I always enjoy reading your blogs and tweets. Keep up the good work and education will come along sooner will be better than later.

  4. I appreciate your comments about what your school and others are doing with web 2.0 tools currently. I was able to persuade our district’s technology director to allow me to work on a collaborative project with a teacher in another state. Our current district policy is a basic “NO” to all web 2.0 tools. I believe it is important for our students to be taught the appropriate use of these tools by qualified instructors instead of learning the hard way when online. Because of this belief, I volunteered to be a lead teacher on a committee to research and propose an updated policy for the district. Six months later, the policy is slowly moving along. As I am often reminded, sometimes school change happens at a glacial pace.

    I enjoy using twitter to know others better and learn from their experiences. Thanks for sharing how you are encouraging Web 2.0 use in your district.

  5. Hi, Alan,

    Just a quick note to say how much I appreciate your transparency – your honest self-appraisal and willingness to share what you perceive to be a “shortcoming” in your practice with all of us. Believe me, we are all experiencing the same thoughts and it is uplifting to hear that we are not alone!

    Because you obviously make a practice of personal reflection and self-improvement, I have no doubt that you’ll soon manage to replace some of what teachers “have always been doing” with exciting learning opportunities that focus on what the STUDENTS can be doing!

  6. Hi Alan, I think we are all wondering what we are doing, as all these web2.0 tools are new to us and to education in general, despite some of those really early pioneers. Teachers have to ‘play’ with the tools and work with them in class, in order to be able to see their application in education and potential directions that they might take. However, I do know that many of these tools really empower students, as they love to create, connect and communicate across the globe.
    Thanks for commenting on my favourite web2.0 tools. I was just wondering if your diary of web2.0 tools used is a hard copy or do you save it online as a google doc? When I check my gmail I find I have registered for so many tools but have only used some of them in earnest.

  7. Hi Alan,
    I am at St. Marks, Hollywood, FL. I teach 3rd grade, but taught the technology classes at my school in Dallas. While I feel the need to be a primary male teacher, I also have a passion for sharing technology as well. You are an inspiration to read. Thank you for sharing your walk down this road. I am very new into the Web 2.0 realm and very much appreciate your encouragement to just jump in and start experiencing this technology so as creative teachers, we will begin to see ways to apply it for our students. I will be creating my log this week. I will pass on the link then.

    • Jerry, Thanks for taking the time to reply. Just curious how you came across my blog? I haven’t updated in a while and am also feeling guilty about that. Not really guilty but I sometimes thing that you’re either cut out to blog or you’re not. Those who are have to really work at it or feel that they really have something worthwhile to say. In a way, a lot of my initial web 2.0 enthusiasm has dulled, perhaps because there is so much in the day to day work of a school technology coordinator that I don’t have time for the “fun stuff” I’d like to keep exploring.
      I look forward to your link and read about your experiences on your blog. Alan

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