I spent most of today mapping out the first four weeks of my Fall graduate course, Instructional Strategies Using the Internet – a totally online course with students scattered over three states. As this is now an Ed Leadership course, Jon Becker and I are taking it from a strictly Web 1.0 classroom focused course into a school leadership-focused course. The intent is to explore Web 2.0 initially, but then shift towards the administrative planning necessary to implement Web 2.0 instruction in a school or district.
As I thought through the first four weeks exploring Web 2.0, I was reminded of something Jeff Nugent comments on often – the challenge of backwards translating Web 2.0 by an early adopter to a late majority population.
This is not a criticism of my upcoming students – they are typical school teachers that did not necessarily grow up with computers like their students – the NetGen generation – have. So while I am probably generalizing, it appears from meeting with them this summer while they were on campus that most of my students will fall in to the late majority category. Rogers noted that the drivers for adoption of an innovation are different for each adopter category, and I think it is safe to say that my enthusiasm for Web 2.0 will not easily translate into the class norm (at least, not without some work).
So as I mapped out the course, I broke the course down this way. I thought that we would spend a week simply exploring the Web 2.0 concept (Michael Wesch videos, O’Reilly article, Cofino First Steps), and have them dip their toes in with RSS feeds in Google Reader and accounts in Delicious. The concept of creating content online might still be foreign to some of them.
My worry with backwards translation is the potential for information overload as we move in to Web 2.0 tools. I am thinking a starting place is Jane Hart’s Top Tools For Learning list, but even that is intimidating to those uncomfortable with technology. Yet, this is a graduate course, and I neither want to water it down nor spoon feed “my” tools to them. My goal is that in week 4, the students will be using some of these tools to present (asynchronously) tutorials on a specific tool that they research to the other members of the course. I do not want to even specify “how” they present – though I do want to introduce them to CogDog’s 50 Ways To Tell a Story.
So, this suggests that we spend a week “exploring” tools, and then spend a week exploring those who have successfully used these tools instructionally. To me, this means setting up a wiki and getting the students comfortable using it in order to map out possible tools that they then would split up to research. They also (with help from lists like this and this) would begin exploring the blogs of fellow educators who ARE using the web instructionally.
This would then culminate with a week of sharing their individual research with me and each other.
See any pitfalls, issues, alternative approaches? This is still on the drawing board, so any input would be greatly appreciated!