If I were to name the 2009-2010 school year, some appropriate ones may be Web 2.0 Melee, More Mobile Learning, or Internet on Steroids. It was one of the most rewarding years of my teaching career, but also one of the most dizzying. This occasional disorientation was brought about due to the sheer expansive nature of the internet. Although I likely will never go back to the closed ‘Web 1.5’ environment of something like Moodle, one thing we did sacrifice by going on our 2.0 exploration was a consistent centralized meeting place online.
Did you post it on Twitter or Edmodo, Mr. Lee?
Is it in our Docs or Gmail?
What happened to that Voicethread?
Yes, experimentation has its price, but it also has its rewards. Here are some criteria we developed to assess the quality of a Web 2.0 tool:
- Is education a priority for them? Do they have special accounts and systems for teachers and students?
- Is it fast, reliable, and uncrashy?
- Can you embed work easily into other sites, particularly blogs?
- Is it easy to share work with people outside the classroom (e.g. parents)?
- Is the interface simple and intuitive?
- Has it been free for a while, and does it seem as though it will be indefinitely?
- Do they have, or are they at least exploring the development of, mobile apps?
Based on this criteria, it’s not surprising then that the three Web 2.0 tools we tended to keep coming back to were Google Apps, Twitter, and WordPress.
This year, I’ve decided to (at least start the year off with) using Google Apps as the main tool in the toolbox. Although I like WordPress better than Blogger as a blogging app, and infinitely prefer Twitter to Buzz, I don’t want to make the same mistake of having an inordinate number of accounts. The plus of having the perfect app, we learned, is offset by the minus that is Web 2.0 ADHD. Here’s a visual of what I hope to get students involved in using:
This will be the first time I will have experienced teaching Literacy to more than just my own homeroom class. Although I will miss the special relationships and learning that occur in a proper elementary class this year, I am excited by the prospect of teaching over a hundred students of one grade. I can’t wait to see what it’s like to soft-wall (there, it’s a verb) four different classes, and make them feel as though they are really part of one giant collaborative group.
As always, I welcome feedback or questions you have about my master plan:-)