Wednesday, April 11, 2007

One bite at a time

My weekly e-blast from the National Council of Teachers of English included this link to a story appearing in the Sacramento Bee detailing the use of technologies in high school English classrooms.

Dylon Holcomb, the teacher on whom the article centers is what Doug Reeves would call a "node" perhaps a "super node." He's a go-to guy in his district because it sounds as though he's learning these technologies as he goes and collecting the ones he needs most.

Again, this is an open source approach to education. Holcomb is using the tools he needs to augment learning in his classroom and make material more accessible.

...[U]sing the Internet in the classroom should be done in moderation and not replace traditional reading from books or writing short essays by hand, Holcomb said.

"It's a double-edged sword because I believe in the old-fashioned way, too," he said.

This is where Holcomb and I diverge slightly. While I'm nowhere near the point where I feel comfortable throwing out all printed literature, I do look forward to the day when all of my students' writing is electronic. The fact that my classroom and Holcomb's classroom are not in complete pedagogical syncopation does not mean that his or mine is any the lesser for it.

This is an initial frustration when introducing educators to new collaborative tools and Web 2.0. Many teachers, veteran or not, are apprehensive toward adopting an entire Web 2.0 cadre of tools. In talking with Mr. Francis and Ms. Holliman about adopting some new resources for their classroom, I was met with initial resistance. They thought they would have to eat the entire elephant in one bite.

That's not how you eat an elephant.

Once we moved past the idea that the way they use these new tools and tactics in their classrooms had to be the same as the way I use them in my classroom, comfort began to set in.

I return to my argument for open source education. The mindset cannot be one of adopting a tool and doing what someone else did with it only in a different way. To truly utilize these resources, teachers have to acknowledge what came before and then realize the ownership involved.

We're not talking about a 2.0 version of a textbook. We're talking about a blank book in which information, communication and collaboration can be adapted, adopted and adjusted as learning progresses.

If we're trying to push learning in a new direction and toward a new platform (and I truly feel that we are) we've got to leave old ways of thinking  behind.

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