A common theme that runs through most educational discussions on technology seems to be web 2.0 tools. These are applications that allow a teacher to deliver content, and a student to receive it, by designing it online. Things like glogs, blogs, wikis, prezis all offer a new way of reaching students and reshaping the learning process. The problem with these programs is not a new one in the education sector - time.
It takes time to navigate new technologies. Time to become comfortable with them. Time to purposely plan for their use and its impact on classroom learning. Time is always at a premium.
Training does allow for the opportunity to be exposed to these web 2.0 tools, but the majority of training often comes as an after-hours, during breaks, or informally delivered chance with a colleague. Steps in a new direction can be trail-blazing for your classroom practice; but they still need a path - and this path requires a guide. Whether your guide is self-guided learning on the internet at home or networking with a colleague during lunch; your choice of guide can make or break whether you choose to take these new tools and actually use them.
Here is a starting point for those who want to be exposed to some of the possibilities out there. This website offers a list of different kinds of web 2.0 tools and explains their purpose and use. It is not exhaustive and should be merely a starting point. If you truly want to begin your journey of web 2.0 technologies, choose ONE thing and implement it. Let it be messy. Show the students how it looks to figure things out...in front of them. You will be modelling resilience, problem-solving and patience. These are some of the most important skills a student can learn. It serves no benefit to always be perfect and properly execute a lesson as a teacher. Students need to see a mentor struggle to envision what strategies will lead to success.
Don't get overwhelmed if you're new to this. It is a process and simply reading this blog post has landed you somewhere on the web 2.0 path. Now choose your next step if the time is right for change.