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Empowering Educators for 21st Century Teaching & Learning

Urban EDU Coach

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Posted on June 1, 2013 at 9:17 PM
     Despite the accolades Web 2.0 technology is getting from innovative educators, there are a numerous number of teachers who don’t used Web 2.0 tools in the classroom yet. Because social networking sites require a personal profile to sign up, educators are fearful. Some don’t want to old friends or fraudulent family members to contact them. Others don’t want to be tracked by debt collectors. Some educators are fearful that because of the many budget cuts more technology in the classroom, it is simply too costly and not in the budget. Others fear they don’t write well enough so they fear blogging. While others fear being involved in controversy that may cost them their job. “I don’t want my business in the streets”, this is a very common reason. One educator I talked to said she didn’t like her work or her name being included in a particular stream during a Google search. Another teacher is afraid of being sued for using Google images. Yet another educator fears someone else stealing his work. Believe it or not, others are just simply resistant to change. Either way the result is fear of social media; fear to embrace new technologies that could engage their students in new learning.

Fear Cripples Even Teachers
     Why the resistance? Whatever the reasons, it seems fear keeps teachers from embracing technology in the classroom. When I suggested using Blogging, Podcasts and other Web 2.0 tools to one of my colleagues, I was told. “I don’t want to be replaced by a computer, and I don’t see what’s wrong with what I have been doing. I’ve been teaching this way for years. “
     The world is changing. Most Web 2.0 tools are simple to use while others may not be as simple. Nonetheless,   whether simple or not, this change is inevitable for classrooms. It has to be since today’s students are digital natives. Informal surveys of students report that they used more technology and Web 2.0 tools outside of the classroom that they do inside. 
     When I asked 10 teachers if they thought students needed to learn to use more technology, they all agreed. However, when I asked if they used it in his or her classroom, 8 out of the 10 said no. Of the 10 educators informally surveyed, half were college instructors and half were high school teachers. I asked the college instructors to what extend they at least used various features of Blackboard or other course management tools. They said they only uploaded their syllabi but that was only because their campuses required it. “My students need to learn to write first. They need the basic. We don’t have time to be on those computers, plus my class is not scheduled in a lab anyway.” My next question was; could you reserve a computer lab? The answer, “I don’t have time for the red tape involved.”

Your students will love you for it.
     Each high school teacher voiced their strong concern about students using cell phones in theclassroom. Their greatest fear was that they would use Facebook or Twitter to socialize or text friends for the same reason. Neither of them thought creating plans to teach appropriate use was feasible. They just didn’t want to deal with it. “No way, I don’t want the responsibility”, said one high school educator.
     What will we do? Will students have to become 21st century “digital civil rights workers” organizing protests and sit-ins, to get their needs met? I challenge you to take your own survey. How many educators around you are using technology, outside of Microsoft Office in the classroom? A formal survey described in the Technology section of LA Times (December 8, 2011), confirms that most students use more technology outside of class than they are required to use it during classes. The news survey also reports that “while 73% of teachers say digital content is essential, only 11% of districts are using it according to a survey of IT professionals.”

21st Century Learning Leverages Technology to Empower Students
     Taking this information in account, do you think students are being prepared to function successfully in the world of work? Remember now, more companies are digitalizing their work for better efficiency and to keep up with the competition. Where does that leave our students when it comes to seeking gainful employment? Where does it leave them as they seek to compete in aggressive colleges and universities?

Don’t Be Afraid…,Just Click on it!
     Fear is a normal physical or emotional response to risk, chance, trauma, or danger. We have feelings of fear so that we can protect ourselves from legitimate threat. However, we often have “feelings” of fear for reasons that are far from being life threatening. One can feel fear because of previous bad experiences. It is common knowledge that the best way to quell fear of any kind is to face the personal demons to move beyond the fear. 

These are 3 tops for ridding oneself of social media fear.

1. Just Tinker. Schedule time to tinker, explore, and experiment one site at a time. Start a blog of your own. Embrace it and understand the process. As always, practice makes perfect.
2. Communicate with other instructors. “Friend” others on the sites. Post, ask questions and share information. People usually love sharing. After all, sharing is the point right.?
3. Educated yourself. Take a webinar, take to colleagues during professional learning community times at your school. Talk to other teachers you know. You’d be surprised at who you already know who uses Web 2.0 technologies already. Read educational blogs. Educator are blogging about 2.0 all the time.

Once You Try Web 2.0 Tools You Won’t Go Back
     There is good news. Just as all fears can be overcome by facing, fear of social media can be overcome merely by practicing. Slowly become an expert one site or one App at a time. Take your time to explore and experiment. Web 2.0 technologies are user friendly and convenient.
     Beware, though, of changes that could happen any day. Sometimes developers warn users of changes, other times they don’t. Understand that change is part of the process and embrace it. If there is a change you really can’t live with try this. Don’t be afraid of controversy. Send a message to support and voice your opinion about the change. Post your opinion for others who use the site to see as well. You never know how many other people also feel the same way. When developers’ see that a great number of their users object, they will most often adjust the change for easy use. They want you to use their tool, they don’t want you to take down your profile. Do it slowly, but do it!

Categories: Adult Literacy, Education, Blended Learning, Web 2.0 Technology, Professional Development, Literacy for high school students, Web 2.0 Tools for the classroom

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