Using My Father’s Method

I know this is not really true, but all kids grow up thinking that their father taught them to swim by throwing them into the pool/lake/river/bay.  And most of us did learn to swim!

I was thinking about this as I watched (in a virtual sense) my graduate students swim for the first time in Web 2.0 waters.  During their first week of their first online class, they found out that they could post material to a website, upload pictures, resize those pictures if necessary, set up accounts in GOOGLE, DELICIOUS, and WIKISPACES, and record an audio message to each other in the class using Wimba recorders.

I know that they think I simply threw them in … and some of them felt quite overwhelmed.  It is hard for them to see right now that the successes of this week will translate into practices in their lives and their classrooms in the near future.

Yet I am encouraged!  I took the 80 posts that the 18 students made in the discussion board and collected all the text, then placed the text in Wordle.  This was the resultant wordcloud:

I had asked the students to watch Michael Wesch’s The Machine is Us(ing) Us and then reflect on how (or whether) Web 2.0 was changing how they as K-12 teachers should approach teaching and learning.  It is therefore good to see that the top two words that emerged from 80 posts were “students” and “technology.”  I am also seeing words such as classroom, time, internet, can, world, and new.  You have to look very hard to find the word “overwhelmed”…it is there but tiny compared to other words that pop out.

I was fortunate in that my emersion into the Web 2.0 stream occurred over an 18-month period, with supporting friends locally and globally helping me out.  Where I paddled, my students are now being hit with a firehose (mixed metaphors…but you know what I mean).  There are some excited swimmers in the lot, and my role is to create that same sense of excitement in the rest.  I think that it is going to be fun.

Photo Credit: zanzibar}

5 thoughts on “Using My Father’s Method

  1. Now, after only being two weeks deep into my experience with Web 2.0 – I have to classify the journey, as a roller-coaster ride. So many ups and downs in such a short period of time. Who ever would have thought that such tools existed? Initially, learning to use the Web in this manner was overwhelming, but I already see it paying dividends and I know that I am only scratching the surface. At first, I felt as though I was against the current – but now … I see a calm in the water – momentum is picking up.

    Mark Dwyer
    (A member of the Swim Team)

  2. As the saying goes, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. The web allows teachers to adjust to the different learning styles in the classroom. Teachers can also set their own pace of teaching. Individual teaching techniques can become more available, which has been proven to be a factor in student achievement. This class has opened my eyes to the “miracles” of the internet.

    I have to say that this course has really given me the drive to utilize the many ways to benefit from the internet. A month ago, I would never have thought that there are so many ways to use the World Wide Web to my benefit.

    To say I am impressed would be an understatement.

    Keven Jones

  3. “Net Generation” wow!! I am now very impressed to realize we have the opportunity to reach this generation. It is a challenging experience where all our old learned teaching methods are questioned. As teachers we need to re-think and re- organized our teaching methods to be able to reach these students appropiately. I feel so lucky to be a witness of this change that will definately change the teaching path, so we have the opportunity to be NET TEACHERS!!

    Let’s have some fun to enjoy this challenge!!

    Todos adelante!!!

  4. I guess I am one of those who feel like I was thrown in the pool( Web) and is so over whelmed by the vast information there is on the web. There are so much great stuff that I can use from the web, but I guess my challenge is finding the time to be on the web. I feel like I need 48hrs in a day to really grasp and accomplish what I need to do. But thanks for all the phone calls and emails, you guys sure helped along the way.

    Mark, I am glad you are seeing the calm water, I don’t see that yet, but I do believe I will soon. Since I am a Segugio Italiano dog, I am tough, wilful and brave. So I will keep moving along.

    The benefits to the web are endless and will be very rewarding for me and my students. From the little that I have tasted of the web so far in this course, I am thrilled to know that there are so much to use and learn. So lets keep diving into the web.

  5. I can admit that I was indeed thrown into the pool and initially it was an overwhelming and rather terrifying experience. There were just too may “strokes” to learn!! I have not yet mastered the art of swimming, but I will certainly not be drowning, at least, not while Dr. Watwood is the lifeguard on duty.
    This class has truly been an eye opener for me. I have never before explored the myriad of possibilities of the World Wide Web. Prior to this class, I basically used the net to surf for information and send Instant Messages to my friends and family back home. Little did I know that there is way more to it than just that. I am now “testing” the waters with scaffold from my professor and classmates, and I must say that I am absolutely loving it! I am not only learning how to use Web 2.0 to my personal advantage and to enhance my social networking, but also as an effective instructional tool in my classroom.
    Although I am by no means a master swimmer like Phelps, I am no longer afraid to dive in and I am definitely keeping my head above the waters, trying hard to stay at least a stroke ahead of my rivals…my students. It can be a shocking reality to note that our students are more technologically inclined than us. Therefore, as teachers we need to “get with the program”!

    Shevaun Powell

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