Yesterday was a good day, speaking to more than 300 first year teachers in Phoenix. It was also one of those presentations where I kept thinking, “I wish I’d added this. I wish I’d added that.” As it was, I went over time with the ideas that I did include. It was quite overwhelming to them.
I twittered about how only two of them were bloggers, no one knew about Web 2.0, only a handful knew what a wiki was, and no one had heard of RSS. It really forces me to wonder if we’re stirring up a bunch of hype about “Web 2.0″ just to have something to be enthusiastic about. It’s not a bad thing that these beginning teachers hadn’t heard of Web 2.0. They’re certainly doing it. Most of them IM, have MySpace or Facebook (etc.) sites. They communicate online with individuals and groups, and they’ve used these conversations to teach and learn, though they probably haven’t thought of it that way.
One thing that did strike me was that almost none of them have traditional telephones. To tell the truth, many don’t even own any furniture. 70% come from outside of Arizona. But I suspect that with a mobile phone in their pockets, they won’t have much reason to get a land line.
They were very polite, and most of them have no idea what they are in for in the coming months. But, and this I believe, those who stay will see a renaissance during their career. The profession that they retire from will have almost nothing in common with that which they are beginning — and teaching will be the most exciting job on the planet.
Back to my question — I think that Web 2.0 is real, we need to be able to label it, and to talk about it, to deconstruct it, lay it out, and apply its parts. It is changing how we use information, and this affects what and how our children learn. It’s OK that these beginning teachers can’t do this — as long as doing it, taking part in this conversation, becomes part of teaching.