I always feel a little guilty about writing report card comments for the Van de Schmellingers and the Zeigermeisters of the world, as I usually write the report cards as their owners’ names appear alphabetically on my class roster and I’m often out of literary steam by the time I get to the end of the alphabet. I often have to promise myself a little reward or, alternatively, give myself a little finger wag, to torque up the twin engines of my evaluative and literary efforts. I’m reminded of this report card scenario as I sit before the computer, composing the “z” equivalent of my blog posts… It’s probably a good thing that the pile of edible rewards (with a calorie count that approaches stratospheric levels) littering the desk beside me is invisible to anyone reading this…
Paralleling my guilty feelings, however, are feelings of pride and accomplishment, as well. I have never been on the cutting edge of technology – in any area of my professional or personal life. If Luddites had been searching for a queen, I’d surely have contended for the crown – I didn’t even own a microwave oven for the first forty-five years of my life. (I have one now but I don’t like to stand toooo close while it’s operating. Ha ha.) But now, I’d qualify more for the Virginia Slims You’ve Come a Long Way Baby Award nomination … prior to this January, with the exception of podcasts and Facebook, I’d never heard of the Web 2.0 tools we examined and discussed in our class. I feel I’ve learned so much about technology in education, while at the same time I’ve become MUCH less intimidated by it. I will always be grateful to the others in the class who seemed to share my lack of tech expertise, but who persevered in their quests to conquer Web 2.0 challenges. I’m thankful, too, to those who gave of their considerable expertise and knowledge. It seemed that, true to librarians’ innate sharing natures, advice and aid were always just a discussion posting away.
One of the highlights for me was blog writing and reading – the creative act of constructing posts and the wonderful ideas and turns of phrase penned by others in the class. I’ve always had a dangerous addiction to well-written offerings, and the students in this course provided lots to appreciate.
Another highlight I found was putting the “me” in YouTube! I had never explored this popular phenomenon before and couldn’t be bothered to see what all the fuss was about. Now, however, it’s one of the standards I investigate when I begin a new unit of study for my grade three class. For example, we are launching a unit on Sound on Monday. One of the centres that will be featured is an offering of YouTube features showing musical instruments made from vegetables…as amazing as the appetite I’ve developed for unique videos.
I’ve also gained a healthy appreciation for the value of research – and was continually impressed by the goliath portions of experts and research cited by my fellow students.
A lowlight? I found at times the workload of the class was daunting – although it was all “doable”, it did eat up a lot of time and effort. Of course, some of this may have been due to the level I began at – had I known more about technology, I doubtlessly could have proceeded with greater ease. And then there’s the addictive nature of some of the tools we examined…and my anal tendency to expend gazillions of brain cells on my syntax and word choice…I’m guessing I could have chosen to make the workload much less and was likely the architect of my own stress. Had I streamlined more, I likely would not have considered the workload to have been as large. I did, however, think that there were times (for example, during the wiki flurry) when it would have been more manageable to have posting “groupings” – where we were expected to read and comment on a small group of posts, as opposed to those from the whole class. (In an on-line class I took last summer we were placed in discussion groups of about 4 people, although we could read everyone’s posts. I found this much more manageable.)
Where do I go from here? I will definitely continue to apply Web 2.0 tools in my classroom – doing things like incorporating YouTube videos into curricula, stepping up on-line research where possible, and continuing to use the class blog I’ve established. I know that at least some of my colleagues would like to begin blogging and that it could become a nice contagion in our school – one that I’d be happy to be involved with, as it provides a forum to introduce so many other tech tools: podcasts, voicethreads, social bookmarking… Also, I will unhesitatingly participate in further on-line courses, and would definitely encourage others to take this one. It’s been a great journey…all the way to Z…and to zzzzz’s, which is where I’ll be in the next 10 minutes!!