My students inspire me as they "get" Web 2.0

With a lot of preaching this Web 2.0, the students are getting it. I have a growing list of students who are blogging outside my classroom and a growing respect for their diversity of interests.

One of my students has created a beautiful blog in wordpress. Her comments about blogging are so wonderful, I'd like to share them with you.

When my computer teacher, Mrs. Vicki, first told my class about blogs, I have to admit I was the person in the back of the room not really paying attention going, “What’s a blog?”

Once she explained in simplistic terms what a blog was she required us to create wikis explaining Web 2.0 so we could learn about it and create our own bloglines account. Then (of all things) she had us post something on our class blogmeister account.

I was still the one going, “What am I supposed to write about?” I was seriously at a loss. I mean what could I say that would actually interest anyone else, but then I started reading other peoples blogs.

I finally realized that there are a myriad of different things to write about: politics, religion, technology, etc. If you have a hobby of any kind, somebody has written about it in a blog.

While watching the news this morning, I actually heard the President say the word “blog” when talking about how the American people can keep up a positve attitude in the War in Iraq.

Blogs are revolutionizing this country, and many people are completely oblivious to even what a blog is much less what it can.

So thank you Mrs. Vicki for convincing me what a viable resource a blog can be.

Thank you for not letting me be ignorant to something so revolutionary.

As I ponder her closing words I am taken aback. I didn't see the importance so very clearly until I read her words. They are forever burned into my psyche and will ooze into every moment I ever teach technology again.

How can we let children be ignorant of something so revolutionary?

Their world has changed. The world has changed. And no one knows it.

I tell this to my students all of the time. (Some have even blogged about it.)

Challenge to Teachers

Where are the teachers that are going to take the time to wake up and smell the perfume of a new datastream?

We are doing children a disservice if we do not teach them to blog! People are being hired and fired because of this new medium. What will be happening in five years! Start the learning curve now!

It has outgrown me now!

Now, I have students setting up their own radio stations on Odeo. (It fills me with excitement and fear at the same time! What will they say in their spare time and whose going to blame me!)

I've taught them HTML and Odeo and now they are pasting code for people to send them Odeo voice mails into their Myspace accounts. Some of them found code and copied it to change their HTML code they are programming in notepad. One started using a style sheet and I don't even teach that by hand!

You see, knowledge is an amazing and powerful thing. As students “get it” it becomes part of their lives. It becomes another way to communicate. It becomes another way to be human.

And because these tools are connected to humans they can be used for good or bad purposes. It doesn't make the medium intrinsicly evil or good…it just provides another place that they need supervision.

I was trying to keep a handle on things and all of the Web 2.0 accounts they are using and things they are doing, but they've outgrown my capacity to process and keep up with it. I even thought of suprglu and putting it all together to monitor it.

For now, I'm sticking to my policy. If it is “my classroom” it is “my business” and all school rules apply even if it is posted from home. However, if it is out of my classroom it is out of my “eagle eye” but they should be aware that if anything innapropriate is brought to my attention that they will, as always, get the private Mrs. Vicki character talk that they have grown to expect when they have done something wrong.

I love them dearly, but I am just going to have to trust them and hope that I have taught them enough about living their lives, privacy, and the Internet that they can be good Internet participants.

Meanwhile, I think I need to go pray…

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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kontan March 24, 2006 - 3:35 am

wow, wonderful products you have linked!

I have been told there are so many legalities involved in the introduction of blogs and such. How do you address such, or is it even an issue in your district.

Vicki A. Davis March 24, 2006 - 11:25 am

Kontan —

We’ll have to ask the “experts” about the legalities.

As for my introduction of blogging itself, I have only used Classblogmeister and I moderate everything. I publish only using my students initials and I request that they reveal no private information (although they sometimes do.)

The parents were presented to at the PTO that we are blogging.

As for the blogging outside the classroom, that is what they did on their own.

I don’t see how using a tool like classblogmeister would hurt. They can search other kids’ blogs and comment. You can control everything.

As for teaching them how to use Technorati, I don’t. I do tell them to register on Technorati if they have a blog of their own.

I ALWAYS make it a point to tell their parents if they are blogging outside the classroom as I believe students need supervision and oversight.

As for legalities, I don’t see why the acceptable use and privacy statements that go home each year couldn’t be modified to accommodate blogs.

If someone says there are so many legalities involved in the introduction of blogs I think perhaps they are hiding behind rhetoric.

I think classblogmeister is as controllable if not more than a bulletin board where students post their free writing. Just enable content moderation all of the way through.

When you’re on the edge of technology you always have to take the morals and ethics with you. I frame every discussion about Web 2.0 with ethical questions and discussion about privacy, etc.

To me the risk of not teaching it is greater than the risks of teaching blogging. I’d rather them learn from me than from some buddy at midnight one Friday night. They’ll learn more and find more productive uses in my classroom than from their buddy.

You may want to ask David Warlick or some other visionary like that.

teacher dude March 26, 2006 - 3:37 pm

Once more you’ve come up with a thought – provokng post and I look forward to putting some of these ideas into practice (especially ones connected with Odeo).

It’s great to see how others are creating a new paradigm and perhaps more importantly, dealing with the problems and limitations caused by less than perfect teaching conditions.

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