Friday, December 5, 2008

Blended Learning and Web 2.0

This past week, I was able to participate in an ISTE webinar titled “Dr. Z’s Creative Cookbook for Collaborative Communication.”

The started out with a lot of promise by sharing a PollEverywhere quiz about who had a Facebook account and who uses it regularly. To submit your response, he had everyone on the call submit a text message on their cell phone with their answer. Later in the call we saw the results to the poll and found that a majority of folks on the call use Facebook quite a bit.

The idea of using synchronous video and interactive polling via our cell phone was very intriguing to me because it gave us an opportunity to be involved and participate in the content. As it progressed, it evolved into more of an introduction of Web 2.0 and common tools such as wikis, Twitter, Jing, Skype, and so on. I would have preferred to learn how schools and students were creating projects or developing digital storybooks and real examples of how students and teachers were using Web 2.0 as a blended learning approach.

Rather than giving all the details about the session, visit Wes Fryer's blog post:

Notes and Reflections on Dr. Z’s ISTE Webinar today, blended learning, and web 2.0

So after the session, Eric Hileman, Wes Fryer, and I began a brief discussion about what we had just learned. This informal discussion turned into a very powerful interaction about the use of these technologies and how they fit into the teaching and learning process. Wes quickly modeled a process for building a framework for thinking about instructional delivery of Web 2.0 tools using a 2 x 2 grid.

As Wes describes this process:
You can learn more about this approach by reading Wes' blog:

Notes and Reflections on Dr. Z’s ISTE Webinar today, blended learning, and web 2.0

This week has been a great week for building up my own professional development and applying the Web 2.0 tools in a more practical and realistic approach. I sometimes feel like there are way too many tools out there and we just sort of dump them on teachers or try to absorb and drink the Koolaid for every tool we can get our hands and eyes on. Then I become so inundated that I don't even know where to start or remember what my username and password is to say Pownce. Only to find out that they are shutting down. I think it is such a challenge to be a teacher and a learner in schools today, because it really seems like there are two schools of thought. One is filled with teaching to the test and assessing skills and knowledge, and that is good. The other includes teachers facilitating learning through digital storytelling, creating Ning communities, sharing and posting blogs, using live Ustream videos to share and learn about science projects and on and on. There a few pioneers out there ruffling feathers by taking what the Web 2.0 community has to offer and pushing the envelop for how kids acquire knowledge and how they assess the transfer of knowledge. I for one see the great promise of this. Although in our discussions, we also talked about equity of access and connectivity along with filtering of content. These are and will continue to be issues so I won't go there.

At the conclusion of this great experience, I had a chance to visit with Wes Fryer a bit more and share with him the grassroots efforts we are doing wit WeAreTeachers. As an initial member of the organization, I have learned that the community drives the content in a Web 2.0 world and they carry a lot of weight when it comes to identifying what they will and will not embrace. We talked about the fact that teachers really need a place where they can find like-minded, like-interest environments with the right set of tools for them to collaborate. WeAreTeachers is a promising social medium for doing this. I look forward to working with grassroots level teachers and pioneers of Web 2.0 and social networking to help shape this opportunity.

On a side note and in the spirit of embracing and leading your own virtual PD, WeAreTeachers is offering a free webinar/collaboration pilot tool as part of a member's profile. If you would like to have access, create a profile in WeAreTeachers and send me a message and I will add the widget to your profile. You can also click the badge to create an free account for up to 20 participants.

Until next time...

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