My Web 2.0 Tools Journey

August 10th, Kirawee High

At the beginning of last year I was feeling a little despondent, inertia had set in and I was tired of the routine. We had been doing tried and true programs for a few years, booklets, photocopies, chalk and talk and a Power Point handed in on a memory stick. To be honest I was desperate for something new.

They say, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear”, I was ready and the teacher did appear in the form of Denise lofts and the’ Lighthouse Project’. For me it was like putting a fish back into water. I found myself part of a dynamic and progressive team with strong educational goals and a momentum to match.
I focused on blended learning and web 2.0 tools. I studied and learnt everything I
could, I joined Twitter, Wikis, an RSS feeder, had a bookmarker. Made
Wikis and Blogs and collaboratively contributed on Twitter and now Yammer. I was excited and inspired but the best was yet to come. My students were
benefitting from my new found tools and enthusiasm but the paradigm
shift happened when I discovered and fully utilized all that Edmodo
had to offer.
Edmodo is my spring board out to the big wide world of web tools,
learning, collaboration, engagement and creativity. It is simple, unblocked by the DET, accessible from anywhere with Internet, there is even an iPhone app.
Teachers and students find Edmodo a fool proof platform for communication.
I use it to set up class groups, for pretesting and introductions to lessons. It keeps
a record of all the students work, I use the assignment application,
the calendar and on the spot class questions working in ‘real time’ to provide relevance and authenticity. Edmodo is great for reporting and to show outcomes and work samples at parent teacher evenings
As part of the ‘Lighthouse Project’ goal to have whole school engagement, I was assigned the task of mentoring head teachers and teachers who showed enthusiasm. The teacher’s resistance to having to learn something new and incorporate technology into their lessons melted away as soon as they could see how easy and effective it was going to be. They went from, “I don’t really need this because my subject isn’t about technology”, to, ‘show me how’ and ‘If I do this’ and ‘look what I have done’. Teacher’s have continued to show me their achievements and ask me questions, I could see genuine appreciation for the time and mentoring they were given.

I have a challenging yr 11 so I was quick to introduce Edmodo and other Web Tools to them to provide variety and relevance, those students that had used it in other classes approached the tools a sensible positive way, the students who were new to the concepts spanned and laughed. It took the best of three lessons before they took it seriously and knew to login to Edmodo each day. They now know that they can find their assignments and assessment tasks on Edmodo and if they miss a class, which many of them do, all the day’s work is accessible. The more teachers who are onboard with ‘Blended learning’ the better, it sets an expectation and allows students to fully engage with its benefits.

My point is, that teachers and students are desperate to be inspired
and engaged by what they are delivering and learning. Whilst mentoring
teachers, I had a profound sense that using web 2.0 tools to deliver,
communicate and evaluate lessons brought greater satisfaction and enthusiasm.

We bus 1000 or so kids in to a large building everyday and we need to make it count on many levels. We need the content and the learning environment to be engaging and relevant and the information to be accessible from nearly anywhere. Furthermore the information needs to be enhanced through collaboration and recreated which is most effectively done using web tools.

Since I have been using Edmodo, Blogs, Wiki’s and many other creative tools I feel a huge sense of satisfaction and excitement around delivering lessons. I see students communicating over the weekend on Edmodo and uploading their work with a sense of empowerment. They know their work has a greater audience than just the classroom teacher so they try a little harder. I think today’s students are comfortable showing and sharing their work. In fact with Face book and twitter and other social networking sites it’s the norm to express every little thought and get feedback on it. Can you imagine your parents even asking their friends what party they voted for? Now, that, and so much more personal information is out there for the world to read. Technology is embedded into every aspect of their lives, they never knew a time without computers, remote controls, mobile phones and the big WWW. so it makes sense to harness their day to day practices and make it work for teaching.
For an in-depth account of my ‘Blended Learning’ journey, please see my wiki
http://blendedlearning4engagement.wikispaces.com/
With Thanks
Niki McDonald