I began teaching with the typical whiteboard/chalkboard, overhead projector and teacher computer (and that wasn’t really that long ago!). I was lucky if there were computers for the students, but for the most part, they usually went to the computer lab to learn more about technology. I was able to avoid incorporating technology in the classroom and therefore never really forced myself to learn more than the basics.
A lot has changed (in a short time) since I began teaching and I realize now that I HAVE to learn more than just the basics about the technology that my students (even at five ) use on a daily basis.
Even after reading Living and Learning with New Media Report , I realized just how connected the students are while using the internet.
“Social network sites, online games, video-sharing sites, and gadgets such as iPods and mobile phones are now fixtures of youth culture. They have so permeated young lives that it is hard to believe that less than a decade ago these technologies had barely registered in the lives of U.S. children and teens” (p. 4).
I think back to my own teen years when AOL and chat rooms were just beginning to take off. Even at that time, I used the chat rooms as a tool for connecting to complete strangers in other states. I remember learning the different codes and language very quickly. Even today, I still use facebook, Twitter and other networking tools to stay connected to people around the globe.
While reading Jeff Utecht’s book REACH, I quickly learned how many wonderful tools there are on the web to build Personal Learning Networks (PLN) and connect with others for a variety of reasons whether school or hobbies. I have never really heard of the RSS reader until I began this course and read the book (and to be honest, I am still trying to figure it out). What a wonderful tool for researching information quickly! I think about all the time this could have saved me in my research or when I had students do simple research in a google kids sight.
I am amazed at how well the internet connects us to the world and how much we can learn from it! It takes just a click of a button to skype my family across the world, look up a fun song for a brain break or research information on reading workshop!
However, I need to continue to grow and learn in order to keep up with my students and prepare them for a future that will continue to advance. In the article, World Without Walls, Will Richardson says it best:
“We must engage with these new technologies and their potential to expand our own understanding and methods in this vastly different landscape. We must know for ourselves how to create, grow, and navigate these collaborative spaces in safe, effective, and ethical ways. And we must be able to model those shifts for our students and counsel them effectively when they run across problems with these tools.”
So here I am, ready to jump in and embark on this 18 month journey through COETAIL to do just that!