18 September 2007

2.0 in the classroom: future teachers give me some ideas

Last Friday, I joined an education professor at Champlain for his "Integrating Technology in the Classroom" course to discuss what 2.0 technologies we are using at the library, the challenges and benefits of 2.0, etc.

One word for how the classes went: AWESOME.

I went to both sections of the course and started the discussion off my showing the class the library website. I gave them a little context by asking them what they thought of when they thought about librarians. Buns, glasses, shsh-ing. That school of thought tends to represent the library as a temple. But 2.0 brings the library out into the world wide open. It allows the library to integrate patrons' information needs with service and resources. The best example of this is Chat. We know students are IM-ing all the time and so we are available through IM to chat with them about their questions.

This was a perfect segway into Facebook. I wanted to find out from students what their thoughts were about having a librarian in Facebook. Would they friend me? Their responses were fascinating! At first glance, they said, "Yeah, we'd friend you." But then their professor asked them to think about it as future teachers: would they want to have their students able to see their Facebook page? Now is this really a fair comparison...probably not. As a librarian, I wouldn't use my Facebook page as they use theirs. And I said that. No matter. Their song changed. They unilaterally agreed that they wanted a space of their own where they didn't have to work about a teacher or a librarian seeing their life. Privacy settings of not.

This also brought up an interesting question about when to turn off. When do you, as an educator, get to be you and not an educator? And how does that fit into 2.0 technology. Some people stay connected all the time but others, such as the Sheck, like to sign off and have some Sheck time.

The idea of time management was an important one in the class. Especially when we talked about maintaining these cool technologies. We looked at the MIC's flickr show. Yes, the tag cloud has a lot of possibilities for increased usability and gives the library props in the coolness category. But it is a lot of work on top of cataloging, on top of reference, on top of collection development, on top of faculty senate, on top of blogging, on top of IM-ing...everything takes time. And you have to decide before you implement any new idea, 2.0 or old school, whether you have the time to maintain it. That is a tough one for the Sheck to always come clean about because I do like to wear my super-hero costume and pretend I can do everything. But that is not always so and we all have to realize that.

But back to the students. A few things I loved about what they said:
1. Use blogs to communicate with parents about what kids did in school today. Wow. What a great way to keep parents in the loop. I hope my future child's teacher does something cool like that.
2. They were genuinely concerned about the role of technology in their classroom. "Is it," they asked, "the role of the teacher to teach students technology? Or is that something that should be left in the home?" They also talked about the digital divide: what about kids who don't have access to technology outside of the classrrom. Both of these are intensely important and complex issues. And their professor and I made clear to them that there is not an answer for that.

I can understand it from their point of view. As future teachers, they wonder if they will be mandated to include this "stuff" in their classrooms. Some of them seemed to think that they should be focusing on curriculum rather than technology. But, I said, if you do have students who lack access, your inclusion of technology in the classroom might be the only way they can bridge the gap. And, is it realistic in today's world to assume that technology is something that can just be picked up somewhere?

That's where I am, three days later. I can't let go of that idea: that we see technology as this "other thing" rather than as something important and that needs to be taught and viewed critically. If we don't put that kind of critical thought into it, if we don't educate our children in how to use technology responsibly, how can we be surprised when they don't use it responsibly? This is more than information literacy, or at least how IL is talked about in libraries.

More on this in future posts...it is a lot to think about and I want to reflect on it some more. But what a good class, huh? I love students. I love how they make me think!


Ms. Voss said...

Hi Sarah,
Your post was particularly interesting to me because I'm at a different point in the educational process--I'm working in a high school where teachers are figuring out how to use technology within the classroom as they teach. Some have been teaching for forty years, some have been teaching for two. All have varying abilities and philosophies on the place of technology within education. So our technology framework or plan or whatever you want to call it is currently pretty arbitrary. Some teachers are using weblins (fun!) and games, while others are barely using power point. This is a very transitional time for technology in schools, I think. Our entire trajectory--our way of thinking about education--has been changed by technology _in the world_, and students need to be prepared for that world, but the schools aren't quite sure how to do that yet.
:) Katie

Caleb Fischer said...

Interesting - and A problem I have already faced. I've let in too many of my old students. Thankfully there was just an article on Slate.com about how to politely "unfriend".


The Sheck said...

I couldn't agree more. This is a transitional time and one that can incite excitement or frustration or a bit of both. I think the library is poised to help our faculty, and ultimately our students, face these challenges and make decisions that reflect their philosophy of education and learning in a meaningful way. It is the haphazardness of it that I think if the most distressing.
Glad you commented! Miss you guys.