First Year Teachers

Beginning TeachersYesterday 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.

66 thoughts on “First Year Teachers”

  1. Unfortunately, most of our teacher preparation programs are lacking horribly in preparing our pre-service teachers for a future in a digital classroom. This makes our new teachers fall back on what was modeled for them in their educational history. Their educational background has mostly been filled with the same teachers you and I had. Most of these teachers didn’t use computers for anything outside of an occasional Powerpoint that they read directly off the slides.

    I teach a course for pre-service teachers at a local college that exposes future teachers to the power of web 2.0, what it means to be literate in the 21st century, and using technology in a classroom to enhance learning. In a perfect world, this course would not be necessary since these students would get what they need from their other courses. It’s amazing how many times I hear in my course, “why didn’t they tell us about this in Science Methods? (insert any course name in here)”

    Teacher preparation programs really need to examine how much professional development they provide to the people delivering instruction to these future teachers. Are we really preparing teachers for the classroom of the future?

  2. I’m part of the USM Read/Write Web course this week and most of the participants are “seasoned” teachers. One of the conversations we’ve been having is how important it is to bring university professors into the Web 2.0 world. While pre-service teachers might be using IM and Facebook, they haven’t thought about “why” to use all the different kinds of technologies with kids and teacher-prep programs are cutting “technology integration” courses from the requirements! While “technology” staff development for teachers is very important, we need to focus more on reaching pre-service teachers with our message of use and integration. Let’s get them on board before they even get into their own classroom!

  3. I think there is a mistaken assumption that the “new blood” will be much more savvy than the “old guard” teachers. I agree that in a way there is a disconnect between the university programs and current school practices, just as there is a disconnect between many school classrooms and the real-world tools.

    Although they might not be technical experts coming in to the classroom, these new teachers are at a major advantage: They are comfortable trying new things and won’t be surprised by the pace of change. They have grown up in a whirlwind of changing technologies and expect improvement and a constantly evolving toolbox.

  4. I graduated college in 2000 and never had any coursework in integrating technology. I would hope by now there would be some coursework on technology integration and Web 2.0.

    Even if college level education programs are not addressing digital literacy, I’m still optimistic, and perhaps naive, about the future of digital literacy in our schools. As you said, these new educators are using Web 2.0 (even if they don’t know what its called). I think the fact that they coming into the classroom using these tools gives them a starting point that new teachers just 4 years ago didn’t have.

    This is of course is not to excuse teacher preparatory programs in colleges.

  5. Part of the problem is that the name Web 2.0 conjures up some type of software program as opposed to a way of thinking about using Internet-based communication. I admit that was my problem until just a short time ago. I had been hearing about using Web 2.0 at conferences for quite some time before I finally asked somebody what it meant exactly! I still don’t get exactly why one should have “clouds” or what is but I did create a pageflakes page that functions as the homepage for my students. ( It’s an easy way to put the most necessary information that I want them to have in front of them when they open a browser. I think the key to implementation on a wide scale is being exposed to actual examples of how teachers are making the new technologies work in real classroom applications and letting them pick the ones that they feel will work best for them.

  6. David,

    So, after you quizzed the new teachers, shared observations and perhaps even made them feel good about their choice of profession, what can they now do that they were unable to prior to your session?

  7. The Govenor of Arizona is serious about technology.

    I am in touch with a state wide e-learning policy there.
    Progress with K-12 eLearning policy two years in a row bodes well for the future.

    Not much funding, but persistence continues. Starting July 5th, preparations begin for 2008.

    eLearning System for Arizona Teachers and Students Inc.

    It is a not-for-profit 501-c3 volunteer design and advocacy organization

    Theodore C. Kraver Ph.D. President

    602-944-8557 (direct () (*) (:)

    225 West Orchid Lane Phoenix, AZ 85021


    From HB 2790 (Education Budget)

    15-901.04. Instructional technology systems pilot program; grant application; criteria; program termination

    A. The state board of education, in collaboration with the department of education, shall establish an instructional technology systems pilot program.

    B. A school in a school district or a charter school may apply to the department of education for participation in the pilot program. The department of education shall recommend the format of the applications and recommend application procedures and criteria. The state board of education shall approve the application format and selection criteria.

    C. The department of education shall select one school that provides instruction in any combination of kindergarten programs and grades one through eight to participate in the pilot program, after review and approval by the state board of education. The department of education shall select a school that has an effective plan that demonstrates commitment to instructional change required to achieve significant performance gains through participation in the pilot program and that demonstrates a financial commitment by submitting a budget that shows the amount of funding that the school will contribute to the pilot program. The department of education shall distribute monies appropriated for this purpose to the selected school.

    D. The school that is selected to participate in the pilot program shall use the monies distributed pursuant to this section for the following purposes to significantly increase academic performance:

    1. To upgrade instructional technology systems in the classroom by addressing all system aspects, including a digital curriculum, software, computer hardware, technical support, data and local area networks with file servers and broadband internet connectivity.

    2. To ensure access to one networked computer with broadband internet access, according to standards established by the government information technology agency, for every pupil in every academic classroom.

    3. To provide training to teachers on classroom application and instructional technology.

    E. The department of education shall submit an annual update beginning on January 1, 2008 that summarizes the results of the pilot program to the governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate and the joint legislative budget committee. The department of education shall provide a copy of this annual update to the secretary of state and the director of the Arizona state library, archives and public records. The annual update shall include a summary of the pilot program’s impact on the school’s budget, including any impact on hard and soft capital spending, expenditures delineated by administration and classroom spending, expenditures delineated by maintenance and operations and capital spending and the impact of the pilot program on accountability measures, including any academic gains made by pupils as a result of the pilot program.

    F. The program established by this section ends on July 1, 2010.

    Sec. 24. Appropriation; instructional technology systems pilot program; exemption

    A. The sum of $1,000,000 is appropriated from the state general fund in fiscal year 2007-2008 to the department of education for the instructional technology systems pilot program.

    B. The appropriation made in subsection A of this section is exempt from the provisions of section 35-190, Arizona Revised Statutes, relating to lapsing of appropriations.

    So there are advocates who are trying to make a difference. Lots of people are still stuck in old tech. Schools … and faculty are getting a push.

    Bonnie Bracey Suttono

  8. Our new teachers live life surrounded by technology but didn’t learn with technology. Until we LEARN with technology we won’t teach with technology.

  9. David,

    According to Tim O’Reilly (creator of the Web 2.0 phrase), “The concept of ‘Web 2.0’ began with a brainstorming session between O’Reilly and MediaLive International. Dale Dougherty, web pioneer and O’Reilly VP, noted that far from having ‘crashed,’ the web was commercially more important than ever, with exciting new applications and sites popping up with surprising regularity. What’s more, the companies that had survived the collapse seemed to have some things in common. Could it be that the dot-com collapse marked some kind of turning point for the web, such that a call to action such as ‘Web 2.0’ might make sense? We agreed that it did, and so the Web 2.0 Conference was born.”

    In other words, Web 2.0 is pure commercial marketing hype, and NOTHING more. It was designed to try to add commercial value to those companies that survived the dot-com crash. Name ANYTHING in “Web 2.0” that is new, and I can show you the precursor. Web-based apps? Oh, you mean like “The Network is the computer?” This quote from Scott McNealy is so old, I was still living in California. ever hear of Java? You were probably still in college when that was designed.

    Flickr? I can show you the e-mail arguments between Marc Andreeson and Tim Berners-Lee regarding Andreeson’s argument that the web should allow photos to be displayed. Berners-Lee argued strongly against this, but Andreeson did it anyway. One of the first things I saw on Mosaic was a photo album with tags. That was cool. But I was young and impressionable. I’ve been sharing bookmarks since the discovery of pi. puhlease…

    Blogging? Oh, you mean “bulletin boards?” These were wildly popular when Marc Andreeson was in elementary school.

    Oh, I know, Second Life! Yesiree. That has Web 2.0 written all over it. Except that Neal Stephenson wrote all about it in Snowcrash, published in 1992. His vision of a parallel virtual world became reality a few years later with a program called the Palace that kids all over the world were using to create virtual worlds. My book on the topic was published so long ago it is out of print. You can, however, still buy Snowcrash.

    I could go on.

    Look, David, you are a very bright guy, and you have fallen victim to the hype factory. Here’s a suggestion. Be sure you understand the difference between mere qualititative change (doing old jobs better and faster) and qualitative change – truly doing new things. There are new things to talk about, as you know from attending my sessions. Let the marketeers keep all things 2.0, and use the valuable time of your audiences to share the truly new stuff. Calling something 2.0 that is just a rehash of old technology does a tremendous disservice to teachers, and can actually impede their actual use of technology in the classroom.

    I saw the same thing with “podcasting”, presented as if it was new. The fact is that, through PBS, I had the first downloadable audio content for teachers in the world. It was a monthly show that is still on their archives, and was started years before Apple built the iPod. PBS took a risk, but they understood that (at that time) this was truly a new medium. And it worked. Sorry, but talking about podcasting today is like expressing nostalgia for the Apple II.

    To be fair, it is easy to get caught up in the hype. There are some in our business who feed off of each other, spreading marketing hype like some benign virus among teachers who deserve better from us.

    I know, financial security means giving people what they want. Load a speech title with buzz words, and you get great bookings.

    But here’s the kicker. If teachers weren’t paying attention when this stuff was shown to them the first time, what makes things different now? Teachers are busy folks, they need insights they can use right away. Your demonstration of plotting the earthquake data is a wonderful example of this. Getting misty-eyed over SL is not. Maybe the teachers didn’t acknowledge knowing about this stuff because they realized that it has precious little to do with helping kids learn.

    Just my opinion, of course…

    David Thornburg, PhD

  10. Dr. Thornburg,

    Certainly, the points you make that the ability to do these things have been around for a while, and yes, I was doing cyber-mentoring in the classroom with kids posting their work and emailing mentors (using Pine as their email client) back in 1997, and I, too, had my photo gallery and favorite links on my web page back in 1994. But that’s not what makes right now so exciting.

    There are a few differences between Flickr and a good ol [img] tag, between blogger and my old static web page. One, the ease of use matters. As long as I had to write [img src = /images/meandmykid.jpg], upload the files, etc… then there was always a barrier to entry. (To say nothing of having a server space, etc…) These tools have democratized content creation in powerful ways.

    Two, commenting / the development of more and more dynamic pages have meant that there have been more and more communities developing. And yes, USENET did a wonderful job of creating communities back in the day, but the explosion of people taking part in these communities does suggest something new and powerful.

    Three, I think RSS — and by extension, networking — matters. The idea of a client-side content update vehicle that makes it easy for me to find new blog posts, see when my favorite photographers have posted new photos or what links my friends find interesting is powerful and makes it possible to take part more deeply.

    Finally, yes, that was the birth of the term “Web 2.0,” however, as Postman writes, rarely is the inventor of a tool the best judge of its use. The term has had a life long beyond what O’Reilly thought of. (See the recent dust-up over their attempts to stop others from using it.) It’s short-hand for the Read/Write Web or whatever else we want to call it.

    In the end, there’s no question that the web of today stands on the shoulders of giants who developed the tools that launched it. There’s no question that it is an evolutionary process, but as someone who remembers his Cleveland FreeNet password, I don’t think we can deny the power and energy around what is being done now. And I think David’s idea that we should examine what is going on now and try to find out how we use it powerfully in education is a noble goal, whatever we call it.

    — Chris Lehmann
    — Principal
    — Science Leadership Academy

  11. Web 2.0 is JUST marketing hype the way PC means JUST personal computer. The term has clearly taken on a life of it’s own. I wasn’t crazy about it at first, but read/write web and two-way web were just less catchy.

    Thornburg is right about these tools being only incremental improvements over earlier technologies, but I agree with Chris Lehmann’s response above – the incremental changes have resulted in revolutionary new uses. When teachers attend a hands-on blogging workshop or podcasting workshop they leave with a powerful new tool they can (and do) use tomorrow… I’ve seen it over and over. It is undeniably a qualitative change (at least for those teachers). And if a David Warlick keynote can inspire teachers to look into blogging and podcasting, that is an important incremental change. (This is in response to Gary Stager’s comment above, too.)

    And RSS – especially enclosures – is what makes podcasts (and to a lesser degree modern blogs) special. I would not have expected Dr. Thornburg to use the “how is this different from posting a media file to my website?” argument (in essence). I expect that from people who don’t understand RSS. Subscription is a big deal for a non-technical user. (This is why iTunes is important… it made subscription even easier for the user… teachers will use iTunes. But netnewswire? Not as easily. Honestly, cutting and pasting an RSS feed URL into bloglines is a challenge for some… but they can blog – and they can click subscribe in iTunes.)

    I really don’t mean this as a criticism of Dr. Thornburg (I respect his work – and I’m particularly thrilled to see him promoting open source software so much lately), but the comment above really sounded like it came from someone who was proud of what they’ve done in the past (a good thing, worthy of recognition), but who doesn’t really use the new tools. I have a hard time believing he doesn’t really use the new tools, but that’s how it came off. I wonder why and look forward to the discussion…


  12. Frankly, I don’t care what term we use – web 2.0, the read-write web, social media, the live Web, etc. It’s absolutely true that community tools have been around since the earliest days of the Net, but several things have changed recently, particularly the last few years:

    1) The broadband explosion. Nearly half of American households now have broadband, giving people the infrastructure to participate in online communities where bandwidth is necessary.

    2) Community tools are more accessible. There was a time when setting up an online discussion meant setting up the tools yourself. Before Yahoogroups, for example, you generally had to set up your own listserver or piggyback on an institutional listserver somewhere. One couldn’t just go online and start one within a matter of minutes. And with the birth of DIY social networking tools like, anyone can create robust community infrastructures that previously would have cost a fortune.

    3) New opportunities – and respect for – user-generated content. Uploading your own multimedia content and getting it out to a broad audience is a recent phenomenon. Before Flickr, uploading, managing and sharing large numbers of photos was difficult. Same thing for video prior to YouTube, and the like. Sure, this content existed, but it took a lot more work to get it out there. The barriers to entry for content publishing and distribution are vanishing.

    4. Tagging. Folksonomies have allowed users and their communities of interest to determine the types of context they want to apply to content, rather than being told what taxonomies to use. With that simple shift, suddenly tags became a form of community-building in its own right, as like-minded people could come together around like-minded concepts that they felt were important.

    5. RSS. Prior to RSS, connecting the dots between different content streams was difficult since you had to monitor things manually. Now it’s so ubiquitous, discussion threads distributed across multiple blogs are now a connected conversation that are easy to monitor.

    6. Open APIs=cross-platform conversations As more and more community-building tools are built on an open-API architecture, it means you can connect content to content and communities to communities. A listserv used to be just a listserv – you had to be on it to participate. Now those same email lists can carry on their conversations through auto-posting on blogs or RSS feeds, distribution through Facebook or Twitter, via IM, SMS, computer-synthesized voicemail, geotagged on to a Google Map, etc. The doors have burst wide open.

    Having lived through the era of listservs, free nets, community networks, usenet et al, I gladly pay homage to the fact that today’s social networking and web 2.0 are their direct descendants. But what we’re doing today isn’t just the same thing done faster or on a bigger scale. It’s evolved exponentially and taken on a life of its own. And whatever that thing, I think it’s earned the right to be given a name, even if it’s a hackneyed one. 🙂

  13. Fascinated by both ends of the discussion including David T’s initial challenge to David W’s post as well as Chris L’s and Andy C’s responses.

    The VERY FACT that the conversation IS taking place IS proof positive that SOME SHIFT has taken place.

    Call it 2.0 or whatever drives your fancy. Makes no difference. But to deny that a shift has occurred would be a missed opportunity at best.

    I am reminded via this conversation — reading both ends of the argument — that whenever we argue about tools over process, technology over intent, medium over human, tactics over strategies, we fail in our challenge to move forward.

    So easy to fall prey to the “been THERE long before you, whippersnapper” mindset; equally true to couch our language in the “its so much more innovative than IT was before” attitude. Irrelevant at the end of the day. Relative — at best — on both ends.

    On the other hand, when when we step back and re-imagine the underlying question itself, the energy found in the argument over 2.0 then or 2.0 now seems to fade.

    In business or education or just ‘plain life’, we are at a moment in time where the barriers to entry with regards to the literal ability to publish and be heard are near zero…and the cultural norming of such a desire in the first place is at an all-time high.

    It ain’t about Flickr as marketing trend or some late 70’s coding exercise for a tiny subsection of society. Arguing one vs. the other delays the goals of all of us: to demonstrate that we as learners and collaborators on all fronts are evolving — both on the shoulders of giants and in ways never before imagined.

    On a related and side note, the longer we argue over Skype or blog or podcast or Google apps or whatever the “2.0” tool of the moment is, the longer we’ll fail to inspire the average educator or human being to “enter the conversation.” The moment we begin to re-focus our energies, expertise, and voices in helping people generate the compelling question on their own terms…the sooner we’ll see true global change.

    And some of it just might happen in virtual and digital terms. Even better, the vast majority of it will occur in human terms. For this, I believe we’ll all be the better off (rather than simply slicing the semantic hairs of one technology platform over another).

    For what it’s worth.

  14. Wow, Christian, can I just say “ditto”, or maybe more techie, Ctrl-C then Ctrl-V.

    As I was reading through the comments, I had thoughts much like yours – the sea change in all of this is the reality that the debate itself can happen so easily, involving so many people. I find it fascinating, refreshing, and strangely somewhat daunting that I feel a connection professionally to so many people by reading and commenting on blogs, even though I have met almost none of these people face to face.

    It all comes back to each of us having our own “story”, for lack of a better term, and the desire to connect our own story with others. Just sitting around the digital campfire!

  15. David, the fact that I saw this discussion in the first place is attributed to W2.0. I met teachers at a national conference a few weeks ago and many of us Twitter regularly. Ed Tech ideas, this particular post, and a higher level of sharing frequently tweet up.

    More to the point, with a major university in town, I am finding many of our first year teachers pushing the envelope or more willing to get their feet in the pool than many established teachers. Resumes have been used that included digital student product online addresses.

    I personally don’t care what we label it because as ‘in’ as I may be, my nieces and nephews come up with new names and purposes every month. I am in a more optimistic place knowing that the failure resilience and technology acceptance factor in the new teachers that I see is a good thing for the future of teaching our tech native kiddos.

    Thanks, Howard

  16. The meta-question is, “does it matter if we use technical terms in an entirely arbitrary fashion?” It most serious, mature disciplines, people take the terms they use seriously, and expect their peers to do the same; while there are serious and mature people in the field of ed-tech, ed-tech is not a serious or mature discipline, if conversations like this are any measure.

    I mean, it is quite common to hear ed-tech folks lump in Second Life and Skype as “Web 2.0” technologies. So apparently you don’t have to use the web to be Web 2.0?

    Look at the things Andy cites: Yahoo Groups — started 1998; RSS — 1999-ish; user generated content — let’s just cite for example, started in 1993.

    In reality, the biggest thing is broadband access and people simply becoming more acclimated to the tools. It has just taken time.

    So… looking back at this whole conversation, I think I agree with David’s original point, which seems to be that if teachers are using Facebook but don’t know what “Web 2.0” is, does that matter. I’d say no.

  17. I enjoy reading the comments and agree and disagree. That’s the power of all of this – whatever you call it. I work with new teachers and see that the issue is how teacher education and first year support is set up. Of course, they need online support and to connect them to the resources. I work with BTSA with new teachers and the New Teacher Center with principal candidates and see that the support providers cannot be in the classroom when the new teacher needs it or during a crisis with the new principal. This is where the tools and online connections can help. The mentor can use whatever works for them to listen, be empathetic, share resources, direct them to where they can get what they need.

    Just because you use RSS feeds, blog, comment on a blog, or created a community in Ning or with a wiki doesn’t mean you have set up a support system for your new teachers. Podcasts can be used to demonstrate best practices. Private spaces can be a place to put up confidential discussions. Coaching and mentoring online needs to be a supportive environment like virtual hand-holding. Learning how to do this is different than face-to-face and can expand on what happens f2f.

  18. I remember the early days fondly.

    Once or twice a year I’d have the chance to fly somewhere, sit in an audience, and absorb a year’s worth of inspiration from the likes of Jukes and Thornburg. Life changing events for me at the time. Both names that I, to this day, highly respect.

    As the tools emerged, so did new leaders with new ideas and new passions. I needed an online medium beyond the 30 page PDF’s that I collected from the leaders of the 90’s.

    Richardson called and invited me to dinner while in town on vacation. Warlick grabbed a cell phone and recorded our first f2f meeting.

    Conversation. Built on two way relationships developed on tools that have built a more expansive, more cohesive, and much more social network of educational technology advocates.

  19. Loving the threads of this conversation. And the friction.

    I’ll say it again:

    The fact that this conversation is happening is the point. Not the specific language play or tool set or historical reference.

    T. Hoffman makes a critical point that in many professions/domains, the very word(s) we use have remarkable currency. As does the choice to use your title or academic credential to place the ‘voice’ you bring to the conversation.

    In blogging — and all [pick fresh new term here but you know the numerical phrase of the day that is in play} — emerging mediums, it is about the synergy of then and now that is interesting, not the winner-takes-all formula of early expertise/debate.

    And frankly, that Dr. Thornburg is but ‘one’ voice here — surrounded by A-listers and just guys like me alike — is the entire point. Love Pederson’s remark about doing away with the PDF’s of the 90’s. I love that I can call Ian Jukes cell phone and talk about his boat just because of our long-ago established multi-threads. Before 2.0? Rare, maybe. Today? Almost a given.

    But either way, love the friction that comes with being born in an age where the terms are being co-created on the fly by all — expert and novice alike.

    ONLY thing missing? The kids. Where are the kids? Where, oh where, oh where???


  20. With apologies to Marshall McLuhan it seems that in blog discussions, the medium seems to be the message. This discussion seemed to detour into a smackdown over technology terms.

    I asked a sincere question about what David Warlick expects/hopes/thinks/wishes new teachers will do following his inspirational message. I would love his response.

  21. David,

    As a teacher educator I have much to say about your initial post and the next 4 comments. But instead of changing the direction of the Web 2.0 conversation, I’ve put my comments on my blog:

    Keep telling the story to as many teachers (old, new, and upcoming) as you can.

  22. Gary —
    I too would like to see David’s response — but not with a critical eye or perhaps the ability to tear it apart……..

    rather I would like to see David’s response because it proves exactly what he is trying to get the teachers to understand……..

    Communication is happening. On the Internet….and they need to not only know that — but they need to use it.

    Your request from David seemed to be a challenge — I would rather it be a request — come David, share with us……we love to hear your thoughts.


  23. The other piece that’s important, regarding David’s original post, is the knowledge that colleges are teaching new teachers “how to teach,” not necessarily hot to think like teachers of a Creative Age. When we talk about thinking literacies and their place in the classroom, we cannot let higher ed escape our gaze. Hopefully, in ten years, we will be in Dr. Thornburg’s position on this issue and get to say “puhlease” to the gathering masses.

  24. I had a very interesting conversation with Mr. Chase about this whole topic via skype…
    He is MUCH more of a digital native than I, but we both see the need to use to what students (and new teachers) are using personally to connect in a professional manner. It is MUCH more about the conversation and the application than the semantics…In Mr. Chase’s words….Call a swallow a Dutch Swallow or a Netherlands Swallow, it’s still the same bird, pity we have to quibble over what we’re going to call it while the rest of the world pushes it toward extinction. The skypecast was much too lengthy to post in the comments here… but interesting nonetheless.

  25. For over a year I’ve been wondering if what we say about kids and their use of computers was true. We keep saying, “The kids are using this stuff all the time – except when they come to school.” But, I wasn’t seeing it. Sure, there are isolated cases, but not as a rule do I see tech-savvy kids. They have their cell phones and maybe their myspace accounts, but they aren’t LEARNING on the web, the way we are, and I have had this nagging suspicion that we were projecting OUR way of learning and using the tools onto them.

    I’ve wanted to create a survey online and then get the word out to teachers to ask them to arbitrarily select X number of students, or perhaps just pick one class to take the survey. But, I don’t have the right tool for it. I would expect – or have to plan for – MANY responses, but I don’t have the right tool to analyze the data. I think it would be interesting.

    So, David, thanks for bringing this up. We HAVE been saying that “When these kids graduate from college they’ll be making the changes, blah blah…” Yet, we’re not seeing it. Is it because they’ve not been as tech savvy as we’ve SAID they are all along?

  26. I appreciate all of this conversation, and it’s heady, indeed, to be able to participate. I think Jim Gates is right-on! Some of my students use mySpace, iTunes, instant messaging, etc., but they don’t know how to use those tools for academic learning. Other students don’t have computers at home. My students and I have been stuck at the level of Google searches and PowerPoint presentations. I must teach them digital literacy, and, if I am going to teach it, then I ought to give a diagnostic assessment at the beginning of the year. There’s your survey, Jim Gates. I’m going to get right to work!

  27. Gary Stager asked me yesterday (or was it the day before)

    So, after you quizzed the new teachers, shared observations and perhaps even made them feel good about their choice of profession, what can they now do that they were unable to prior to your session?

    I guess that I would have to say that I hope that those first year teachers are

    1. thinking differently about the outside-the-classroom information experiences that they enjoyed during their student years, and consider the learning that they did and the instructional potentials of video games, social networks, IM & SMS, and digital content creation,
    2. continuing the conversation that I began, asking questions and seeking answers that were not considered in their pre-service education, that they consider continuing to use their social networks for professional development and career-building, and
    3. Include in the reading skills that they teach the practice of asking questions about the answers you find, looking for evidence of validity, reliability, appropriateness of information, the ability to communicate what you’ve learned compellingly, not just adequately.
  28. People above have beautifully described what web 2.0 means to them and I can’t agree more with Chris L, Chris L, Andy, Mark, etc.

    To me web 2.0 is not so much about tools but the concept of allowing students to create, publish and collaborate. The CONCEPT of web 2.0 is what is important here and has changed the way that I teach in my classroom. The concept is begining to gain traction now with mainstream teachers, not just the techno expert who loves to tinker. David T. is right that some of these tools have been around in some format in years past but the difference now is that with internet in almost every classroom in America the web based applications are there to allow students to incorporate these concepts.

    I think it is a very exciting time to teaching. I use the term Web 2.0 in some of my presentations simply to illustrate my belief that web 1.0 was a one way street in which almost everyone on the net was only pulling content off. Now with the tools available online, web 2.0 is more of a two one street with much more participation in the form of posting and publishing information. I don’t see the term as marketing, I see it as a means to help explain the potential of what is available to teachers.

    On a personal note – David W is why I became involved in using computers in the classroom when I read his book about 10 years ago and I continue to read and listen to his thoughts because they stretch my idea of what is possible in the classroom. Thanks Dave.

  29. Jim Gates, drop me an e-mail. I’ll host your survey for you:

    This has been a great thread. Full of serious, weighty thinking and calls for respect for forebears and giants. That said, hey, this stuff is fun! Don’t get weighed down by all the seriousness. We learn through play. I’d much rather celebrate the excitement and the joy than nitpick and debate.

    ‘Now now, let’s not bicker and argue about who killed who, this is supposed to be a happy occasion!’ (Holy Grail)

  30. With all due respect to Dr. Thornburg, I grow tired off the attitude that all technology innovations are nothing new and that their concept had a been available all along. He is right that there are certainly shadows of the “Web 2.0” technologies in the past but the reality is that there is a big difference between podcasting today and downloading audio content from PBS. If the focus is the content, Dr. Thornburg is right. I think the one of the more grand points that folks like Mr. Warlick and Will Richardson make isn’t that content is available (although, I challenge you to think of how much easier the content regimes are today; I couldn’t push nearly as much content information in my classroom today with 1977, 1987 or even 1997 media tools) but rather that the tools for content creation by students.

    I just finished teaching a podcasting workshop to a group of 30 “gifted” 5th-9th graders at a summer program. I began by explaining and demonstrating podcasting. Podcasting had changed the way I interact with world media and yet despite the resources available, the students really didn’t catch fire. When I actually taught them to make their own and use it as a platform for expression? It was a spark that I wouldn’t have imagined: the students took to it immediately and created greatness.

    The Internet made a lot of promises 10 years ago. Sure, take away the hype language. Sure, ignore the tools that are more hype than useful. When you are done, these new tools deliver on the promises of the power if the Internet.

  31. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again- it isn’t about the tools. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking bulletin boards (where I too cut my networked communication teeth) or blogs. The tools are going to change. In five-ten years we will have newer technologies that will be the pen and ink of the next generation. And yes, they will be just innovations (improvements of existing tools) and not new inventions- but what they are or what we call them really doesn’t matter.

    What matters is what doesn’t change- what we do with the tools. What is important is that we are using communication as a means to learning.

    Even Papert said (and he is even older than you David T.) that the information tools we have available today make passion-based learning more attainable.

    I have to agree, I am able to connect and collaborate with others around the world in ways I wasn’t able to do in 1990. Oh, and I did try. I did some pretty cool stuff with preservice teachers at Valdosta State University (College then) using bulletin boards to connect teachers in other countries to discuss children’s literature. The projects got lots of attention. But it certainly wasn’t as seamless as it is now. And for me, an auditory learner, voice makes all the difference in the world.

    Just like we use to wash dishes by hand and now we use a dishwasher. The argument could be made- dishwashers are “pure commercial marketing hype, and NOTHING more” because we have always had dish washers and who needs a new fangled technology- the dishes will still get washed without buying a dishwasher. Households that have them have been hood winked. (Yeah right, only way you are going to take mine is to pry it out of my 19 year old’s cold dead fingers.)

    Not to beat a dead horse but this piece from Edutopia illustrates it well. These are actual quotes from individuals in education showing the initial resistance to *new* technologies:
    (scroll to the blue box)

    My point is that these tools are simply a medium through which to learn. And like the dishwasher, they get the job done faster and better.

    My preservice teachers at W&M don’t know much about Web 2.0 either and I am not sure if when they leave my courses if all of them would have called what they were doing Web 2.0. Rather, they were exchanging ideas with seasoned educators from around the world about their field experiences and their emerging perceptions of pedagogy. They were collaborating with each other and others from around the world to build educational resources they would use to excite their students, instill learning and develop 21st Century Skills.

    Here– just look for yourself.

    Want to know why I think Web 2.0 which has spawned the concept of Classroom 2.0 is worthy? Check out how it has changed teacher practice in 40 schools in Alabama who have been through a 21st Century Teaching and Learning project that, as much as possible, ignored the tools and instead focused on what we can do with the tools to make school more relevant for students.

    David T. I have heard you speak and speak (as I traveled with Classroom Connect too- back in the day…) but I respectfully feel you are missing the point.

    Who cares what we call the shift? Who cares what tools are now as compared to the ones you and I used years ago? What matters is – are we capturing the hearts and minds of the students we teach? Are we giving them *all* the foundation they will need to be successful in the 21st Century? I respectfully disagree– these tools, just like the dishwasher in my house– have everything to do with how these kids learn. And just like your *own* kids were not impressed when the Today Show came to film you surfing the Web–their focus is on what you do with technologies and not the technologies in and of themselves.

    On another note–
    I have the pleasure of knowing 20 somethings who are immersed in these technologies. They do not obsess over wiki this and blog that– they just use them.

    I even live with a few. Here is my oldest child’s high ranking blog (which she refuses to call a blog ) or a post about my son and his use-
    Their friends are just as immersed in living their lives seamlessly using these tools.

    I also have seen that these are NOT the kids we are attracting to education. About 80% of my preservice teachers are somewhat technophobes when they arrive.

    I have often wondered if education actually draws those who feel more comfortable not having to keep up with the technical advances, because education herself hasn’t kept up.

    I have gone on too long. I am thankful for the organization of this Web 2.0 blog though, as my rant would have gotten lost in a threaded discussion format for sure!

    Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

  32. “We” are folks who have access to what the best minds have to say. Of course, we’ve always had that. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I could have conversations with folks like David Warlick, David Thornburg, Gary Stager, Doug Johnson, and the hundreds of other educators that are online and so (forgive the Battlestar Galactica term) frackin’ creative and original.

    I don’t have to worry about being an expert since there are so many people out there who are experts…I can rely on you. for that..and I don’t remember tools like Twitter, blogs, even Ning, Moodle to have those ad-hoc conversations, make those connections. In fact, if those tools existed, they belonged to a geek elite, one which silenced the majority with their exclusion, the masses yearning to breathe free.

    Again, as I speak to new teachers, I seek not to impart wisdom, or the new tools, but rather, to share with them the power of the network, the power of people having conversations. I hope that they will not wait years before beginning conversations that touch the hearts of people who would once ONLY have been people to admire from afar.

    Now, I have a better understanding of David Thornburg, of Doug Johnson, of David Warlick. I remember that one needs help recording Skype phone calls while using ubuntuLinux, the next like to cut his hair short and ‘cuss on his blog, and the last occasionally wears his son’s shirt (too small) to a presentation.

    The great understanding is not any one of these things, but a reminder that we are all human. As I pondered what has been written in these comments, a family member sent me this poem…

    I’ll leave that to be the “last word” from my end.

    Take care and thanks for sharing your perspectives,

  33. Amazing thread, and the level of the conversation is what we should all hope our students aspire to in their own learning practice. I’ll just add a couple of quick thoughts.

    First, while she hasn’t entered this thread…yet…I read a comment by Sylvia Martinez on another post that I think is relevant here, in paraphrase. In terms of the whole Web 2.0 thing, I think we do have to worry about corporate educational interests co-opting the term for their own uses. If you walked the floor of NECC like I did last month, you saw that what many vendors were attempting to connect anything 2.0 with keeping safe, protecting kids, controlling the content. Web 2.0 felt like something to solve rather than something to leverage. That’s an ongoing battle.

    Second, what I find missing from the conversation aside from a few mentions is the powerful networking that can occur here. We’re all connecting here because we are passionate about this topic. We do it in a transparent way. And the scale of that connection just changes the potential of conversation. Not for nothing, but those of you using bulletin boards and other “early” technologies were primarily connecting with other geeks (and I mean that in a truly good way…geeks have done much for the world.) But now, all sorts of voices are in the conversation, some geeky, some not. We have the opportunity to build pretty powerful, complex and diverse networks around those ideas if we choose to. And, as David reminds us, that changes the complexity of how we do this learning thing.

    It’s not just about being able to create. It’s about being able to connect. And the ways we connect these days, the tools we have to make those connections are far more powerful than what we had in the past.

    Thanks to both Davids for connecting…

  34. I think learning Web 2.0 should be their first challenge as first year teachers. Some may not need it. Who know? Maybe their real job will come and requires them to learn it.

  35. I train teachers and deal with this very idea daily… Across my district it is truly amazing to me the differences of web 2.0 knowledge school to school.

    Will Richardson was so right about his comments about the corporate world. I walked the NECC exhibit hall and for the FIRST time in my many visits to NECC I wasn’t interested in what they were selling. I was more interested in the conversations in the hallways.

    In this technological world, communication is truly the way we will connect. Web 2.0 makes all of us be able to communicate no matter where or when. New teachers need to be shown how to use this web 2.0 world to help their students. How do we do this? There are so many answers to the question (more funding, more EFFECTIVE PD, more technology in the schools, etc) but I think as long as we continue to communicate and share our knowledge and passion for web 2.0 AND learn from our students web 2.0 will become a true teaching tool.

  36. Great conversation. I actually came across it because of Twitter, which I am still not certain is very useful to me. Anyway, I think the whole Web 2.0 debate that is going on in this blog has been running through my own head. I think bundling technologies into a nice package term like Web 2.0 definitely increases the hype. For those of us who have a tendency to drool like Homer Simpson over technology, I think we tend to sometimes become too passionate about new technologies at the expense of explaining or truly demonstrating their usefulness to those that may not be so passionate.

    I do think that if a hammer is the best tool for the job, then use it. The new iterations of the “old” web technologies have been amazing evolutions in being able to receive information that is more customized and personal. I like the fact that I can use Google Reader for RSS and not have to visit each page throughout the day. I don’t care what it is called, this is extremely useful and is different from how I used the Internet before.

    I am trying to be more mindful of not hyping the technology because of how cool it is. Though I have not always been good at this. The best I can do is provide solutions that best meet the needs of the educators. If a pencil is the best technology for a particular application I will recommend it or at least include it as one of many options. I think we do a disservice to those who are not as hyped about technology when we try to sell them on things like podcasting being this great “new” technology without given them the context of what it is and how it is different than what it evolved from. I personally will continue to share and use technologies that have been marketed as Web 2.0, as long as they are useful to me. I look forward to the evolution of the tools that will be called Web 3.0 or whatever wins the battle for the term that will be no doubt hyped.

  37. I think it can be easy for those of us who have been in the profession for a while to look at the ‘new recruits,’ scoff and say: “Why don’t they know about these tools? This is what they are living, aren’t they?”

    Well, try to remember back to when YOU were in college. Did you utilize every possible avenue to get your work done? Did you try every new thing out there, or were you just trying to survive, balancing the best possible grades with the rest of the new things in your young life?

    Think about all the new ideas they have been exposed to in the past few years. It’s easy for us now to sit back and say “Oh, well, they should know all this new stuff since they are living it.”

    Do I think they have some advantages over current teachers? Sure they do. Do I expect them to know every new technology out there? No, I don’t.

    Let’s be realistic. For most, this will be the first year they realize that they still have a lot to learn – not only about technology, but about the ‘real world’ as we call it: Rent, mortgages, car payments, utilities, house repair, budgets. Perhaps you all were much more talented than I in college – but it was a huge time of learning for me – not just about my major, but about life in general.

    On another note: I like the term “Web 2.0.” I think it helps to delineate the differences between the older ‘static web’ and what we are seeing today. It’s a descriptive term — just like “The Miocene Epoch.” I think it works and I cannot wait to see “Web 3.0.”

    Also: I do think that colleges need to do more for today’s new teachers when it comes to exposing them to more tools – but then again, aren’t WE suppossed to be doing the same for our students? We are but a small portion of the crowd that IS working towards it in K-12. Did it ever occur to us that college teachers might tend to change as slowly as some of our colleagues?

    But like many more wise folks before me have said: The big difference is that we are discussing this using these tools. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

  38. comment 11: David Thornburg presents some historical perspective, putting some perspective onto “web 2.0”. He might be partially right or wrong. But I wonder how many people who have commented in this thread have bothered to make their own independent study of the history of computing and / or educational computing? I would say that our use of computers in schools is pretty much totally ahistorical, the tools are just there as though by magic. In the excitement of “web 2.0” you might think that that doesn’t matter. But I bet if you did seriously at the history you would change your mind. Study of history is hard work and you might have to avoid some “web 2.0” distractions for a while to achieve that.

  39. David–Another great post because you’re good, but let’s play turn around for just a moment.

    Web 2.0? How about Pencil 2.0? The school I was working for up until four weeks ago hasn’t even automated their attendance or employee payroll sheets. Their teachers still use a number 2.0 pencil to bubble in attendance sheets–4 boxes per student (1 ea hour) times 40 students = 160 bubbles per day = 800 per week = 3,200 per month. And as if that wasn’t Pencil 2.0 enough, they use a black or blue ballpoint pen to fill-in 20 plus boxes on their payroll sheets.

    Yet, administrators have the gall to run around shaking their heads because teachers aren’t keeping up with technology! What about schools learning to integrate technology and setting a good example before they start preaching to the new converts about integrating technology in the classroom?

    Okay, rant o-v-e-r.

  40. As a really new digital immigrant, I find the discussion fascinating. I was intrigued by David’s initial question about hyping it up because we need something to be excited about. Right now the last thing I need is something to be excited about but as an educational leader I can’t help but be excited about the possibilities that exist for today’s students in today’s classes. Regardless of any of the technical jargon, we need to help new teachers to understand that by helping our students use these tools to learn through communication and collaboration on a global level, to learn by making critical decisions regarding content and to learn by creating content we are truly teaching them how to learn. As educational leaders we need to help new teachers understand that they do not need to control the learning, they need to facilitate the learning and these tools, whatever it is that you choose to call them take courage and understanding to use. Courage because we are opening doors for our students that will take them beyond what we know…. courage because we will become learners along with our students…Courage because we are breaking down barriers that are not traditionally broken down in public school classrooms. I love the discussion but think we need to get back to the discussion regarding our new teachers. What are the challenges that we as educational leaders must step up to?

  41. Jane,

    You nailed it! Helping our students to determine the truth and build meaning through communication, collaboration, community & contribution; these are the reasons for the tools.

    As far as whether to label the tools the Web 2.0, the Read/Write Web, or whatever, I also agree that labels count less than what is beginning to happen. W.P. Kinsella wrote that “There comes a time when all the cosmic tumblers have clicked into place and the universe opens itself up for a few seconds to show you what is possible.” The ease of use of these marvelous virtual implements and their myriad applications to help our kids learn are showing us all what’s possible.


  42. Yes, Virginia, there really is a Web 2.0, as most of us seem to agree, but I appreciate those who challenge the concept. As of yet, I think Web 2.0 is something looming large in the night. We can sense its presence, even its power, but we do not yet have a clear image of what it is and what it means. So a David Thornburg can say it isn’t really there–just hype. Or more importantly, a Gary Stager can challenge that maybe it’s there, but what are we going to do with it?

    Stager asks a fair question, and the one that those of us who believe in Web 2.0 should take most seriously.

    Here’s what I will do in my class “Communications and Society” beginning August 15:

    1. My students will read Tapscott’s Wikinomics.

    2. They will read and respond to my blog about Wikinomics, Web 2.0, and School 2.0. Because I am their teacher, most will not read me honestly.

    3. So they will read and respond to your blogs, and I guarantee that none of them will know who any of you are. They will judge your blogs only by what you and others write in them.

    4. They will write a standard academic paper (I’m still old-fashioned), but they will present it to a much wider audience.

    5. They will create a web-site, blog, wiki, mashup, or other Web 2.0 project that helps us better understand Web 2.0.

    6. They will conduct a few class sessions in Second Life, but not during class time.

    7. They will use Google Reader and Delicious to manage and track their online reading.

    What will be the outcomes? Don’t know for sure, but some rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born. I hope to be there when it is.

  43. Hi David,

    Lets be fair here- i know many teachers who have been teaching for 20 years and haven’t heard of web 2.0. Older teachers can be set in their ways and refuse to try new things while new teachers may have less ego and be open to new ideas and risk taking.

    Before you ask I am not a new teacher but it is clear that neither new or old teachers can predict the future and research states that 40% of the jobs in the 1980’s no longer exist so we are all struggling to prepare our learners for a new future that we do not know.

    Students are going to teach us- we just have to keep up. I too am excited to see where the new educational tools are going to take us and intend to hang on for the ride.

    1. I suspect that we are pretty much in agreement, in theme. But I would like you to indulge me a bit, and challenge the syntax of your first statement. You say,

      “Let’s be fair here…”

      Fair to who? Perhaps it is not fair to the traditional, 1950s vision of teaching, presenting the same lessons year after year, preparing children for a future that was reasonably certain.

      ..or is it fair to learners, youngsters who live and will become adults in a time of rapid change, where and when learning is literacy, where learning is a central part of our lifestyle, and the only way to prosperity by almost any definition.

      How can teachers call themselves teachers, if they are unable to discuss the dramatic changes that are happening to our information environment, and unwilling to even pay that much attention.

      1. Are teachers not human, we are not created equally and thankfully so. We ask teachers to adapt to different learning styles of students so why not extend that strategy to teachers.Change is difficult for some and easier for others.

        I see creative teachers, technological teachers and everything else in between but rarely all content and application comes wrapped up in one teacher. We use our different strengths in each department and utilize all for the good of all. There is so much to do that it makes sense to share the load. Everyone shines in their own way!

        I don’t see why a good teacher who inspires her/his students to risk take and question can not call themselves a teacher because they are not confident in all things. Students teach me everyday and I am humble enough to allow them. I think that is fair.

  44. Is one way of teaching the only way of teaching? Do teachers need to adapt? Sure. But don’t students benefit from the other, more veteran, more set-in-her ways teacher also? Does it hurt a student to use technology in my room, and walk into the next and use pencil and paper?
    Yes, I agree students have to be prepared for contemporary demands. I also agree we benefit from being well rounded and knowing our past. I am a teacher, and would have no problem with my own (future) children sitting in a class, on a rug, reading a book and making notes in pencil on a piece of paper.

    1. Wellington, I agree with your statement in concept. A good lecture is a grand thing, and I would certainly be deeply disappointed if there were no books in our schools ten years from now. However, literacy today is no longer just about reading, writing and arithmetic. It’s about the skills involved in using today’s prevailing information landscape to accomplish goals, and that is a landscape where information is networked, digital and abundant. Teachers, all teachers, need to be modeling those skills in their classrooms.

      I agree whole hearted that our children need to learn from a rich array of resources, and that part of that should be about appreciating their heritage. Each teacher should provide that variety of experiences. But, they should all be teaching from the perspective of today.

      Thanks for continuing this conversation.

  45. For years and years I worried that I would never find anything that I
    wanted to do for any length of time. I am finishing my second year as a teacher and teaching really fits. I love the schedule of being a teacher– it
    allows for me to always be looking towards the next thing. The next
    lesson, unit, semester, class. My job as a teacher is my
    happiest thing right now. When I go in to work I feel competent. And now that the
    kids have really bonded with me, I feel loved.The first year was rough, getting use to being new to the school and setting up a routine for myself and for my classes. Now that I have a year behind me my second year is a lot more smooth and I feel I can spend time tweaking my lessons from my first year.

  46. I find collaboration a key component to a highly-effective teacher’s repertoire. Utilizing designated Department Meeting time to develop coherent and viable curriculum as well as reflecting on daily lessons has become the norm for my colleague and I this year. Feedback is an essential tool that provides us with constructive criticism and an outside prospective which may in turn catch something you were not aware of. Employing Web 2.0 components such as blogging helps to develop a network of authentic and immediate feedback that can be used to adapt lessons and even learning theories used in the classroom.
    I am a second year educator and now with my Graduate work in full swing, the balancing act gets a little more tedious. Figuring out how to balance teaching, coaching, after-school programs along with planning for two separate curricula has become more than I am capable of handling just at school itself. It has now begun to spill over into my home life. I specifically remember these words from my first mentor, “find a time to shut down and take time for yourself”, he said. These words have stuck with me and I have begun to pull back from being a “treadmill teacher” and am now building my base of lessons and curricula to cut down on daily prep time. Going into work and knowing you are ready to go and do not have to rush is the single most satisfying feeling, in my opinion, a teacher can have.

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