Why Web 2.0 Teaching is Hard

This blog post is for Gerry Paille from British Columbia (http://twitter.com/tuchodi) who asked me on Twitter to explain a tweet about that Web 2.0 teaching is not easy. Here, Gerry, I Hope this is something you can use.

When you play basketball yourself – you work on your shot and you practice. You're in your own mind – your own head.

But then, one day you grow older and become a coach. Now, you have to get in the minds of other people. You have to not only understand basketball but psychology and team dynamics, motivational speaking, and the technical aspects of equipment. You have to not only see a player for what he/she is today but for what he/she could be. (Like how much are they going to grow in 3 years.) You have to put people in the best place that suits the team and not necessarily the person. It is a much more complex task than just managing yourself.

This particular example embodies why using Web 2 in teaching can be more challenging than the traditional test and lecture because you are moving from just speaking and giving a lecture and having them memorize and take a test to methods that require much more individualization and personalization as well as more collaboration. Each person has to ENGAGE. They have to JOIN. They have to WRITE.

They are moving to a more active tense which quite honestly, can make the teacher TENSE.

“Mrs. Vicki, I cannot join the space? Mrs. Vicki, I cannot find anything? Mrs. Vicki, what do I do? Mrs. Vicki, I am lost? Mrs. Vicki Mrs. Vicki?”

(Most teachers have nightmares where their name is called over and over and they don't know why.)

You are evolving into a coach.

Now, good teachers can be coaches and not use Web 2.0 tools, however, if you are using Web 2.0 in the classroom you HAVE to be a coach.

You cannot do it for them (the golden rule is that I never touch the mouse) – you have to teach THEM how to do it. (Isn't that what we are supposed to do anyway?)

This, my friends, is why I tweeted the other day that if anyone thinks using Web 2.0 in teaching is easy is not doing Web 2.0 teaching. Web 2.0 teaching gets past the tools (signing up and USING the tools for the sake of the tools) and allows the tools to mash together to create learning experiences.

This is not something any of us have perfected, I think. (For example, I fell flat on my face trying to work out with my students using some of the Skype extras this week and wasted at least 20 minutes!) However, this is something we aspire to!

So, using Web 2.0 tools in teaching is not easy but it is worth it.

It is worth it in engagement and thinking skills and the polish that comes from being buffed and buffeted by the sandpaper of the problems we face any time technology is involved.

The world we live in is full of change, technology, problems, frustration, and lots and lots of people and these are things you cannot condense to words and put in a textbook but are only written upon the textbook of experience when you engage students in positive learning experiences online.

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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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LESLEY October 23, 2009 - 2:24 pm

I totally agree. I would say that training teachers how to use web 2.0 can be a struggle sometimes as well without the coach mentality. Sometimes I will be doing a session that I thought had mapped out perfectly in my mind and planned to a T, but doesn’t have the exact outcome that I was hoping for. Since everything is so collaborative and there are so many ways you can do things because web 2.0 is so flexible, it can be hard to manage, just as in a game things can have many possiblities and you can’t practice for every possible scenario. This has happened to me many times in softball practice when I coach my team as well. :) Good post!

Tracie Weisz October 23, 2009 - 2:33 pm

Great analogy – I couldn’t agree more! However, when I am first introducing the tool, we have a relatively good reason for using it (for example, all 6th graders will do a short character analysis using Vokis), but really I do just want them to learn the tool and I’ll find any ol’excuse to do that. At the beginning of the year with new students I introduce lots of tools in that way with the idea being that as time goes by and they are more aware of what they have at their disposal, projects become more open-ended. THEY decide which tools they will use to collaborate, bring across their ideas, mash ideas together, or create something new. I think one of the hardest things to work with in class, but is a perfect learning experience, is the idea that sometimes web2.0 tools are a little unstable – and sometimes one you love and rely on goes away. BUT, there is probably something else out there. The real point is not the tools themselves, but knowing what is possible.
Great post! It IS hard – but so worth it!

coolcatteacher September 25, 2010 - 11:49 am

Hi arnie — email me at vicki [at] coolcatteacher.com and I’d love to chat with you!

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