Not So Distant Future

technology, libraries, and schools

Not So Distant Future

Like schoolkids

September 23, 2007 · 5 Comments · Collaboration, Teacher Learner, Tools, Web 2.0

I feel like a giddy schoolgirl this morning–just having so much fun interacting with other educators around the world who are also giddy about what they are doing.

While most of us in the U.S. were sleeping, Jeff Utecht of Thinking Stick in Shanghai was testing out a new site called WizIq (a new site that is a virtual classroom, with chat, sharing, etc.) and holding a skypechat to discuss it.  

Then as I was just getting up, my Skype started ringing, and Chris Betcher(in Australia) was inviting me into a Skype conference call.  So I woke up this morning chatting with educators in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Thailand, and Pennsylvania and Maryland, about projects they are doing in their schools or are involved with, and am already trying to hook up some of them with teachers in our district.

I left my computer later thinking we were like giddy school kids, just so excited about the idea of connecting and learning. 

And then I started wondering where that expression even comes from?   Are most school kids we know giddy about learning, and if not, what can we do about it?

Can we bring this excitement into classrooms in our schools so that our own students feel like giddy school kids? 

Some elements that get me giddy that I wonder if we can replicate in schools –

  • the collaboration piece–when you are working with others on something you are passionate about, and it starts clicking, it feels very energizing.  
  • the online piece–it’s exciting to bring the collaboration online because of transformative abilities the technologies now have to connect us.
  • the adventure piece–trying something for the first time, exploring it with others, and testing the limits of it can be really energizing.
  • the challenge piece–when something is challenging, and you figure it out as a group, (or on your own), it feels so rewarding.
  • the global piece–this may or may not be as “mind blowing” for our students, since they have Facebook, Myspace, etc., but learning from others around the world is exciting.  It’s illuminating to get different perspectives, but see what problems we also share across borders.  And it’s just really cool to realize you are talking to someone in Thailand or New Zealand before breakfast ;)
  • the curiosity piece–having some basic curiosity about how things work and discovery creates more enthusiasm.
  • the spontaneity piece–being able to spontaneously check something out, ask someone a question, hop on the internet to look something up, collaborate on the spot, or contact someone creates a tremendous feeling of ‘point of need’ learning–a feeling I think students are accustomed to having in their “real” lives due to texting, Facebook, etc.

There are so many tools now, as we were discussing in the Skypecast, that allow you to share with students and other teachers or experts this way.   Skype, Elluminate, Flashmeeting are just a few worth exploring.  

I think one thing that is difficult to sort out if you are new to this is where to start, and where to find projects to participate in, or people to contact.  Ning has some great groups to use as launching points–like Classroom 2.0 Ning, Edubloggerworld Ning, or Global Education Ning.   Taking IT Global is another resource that Sharon Peters mentioned in the Skype chat this morning.   Blogs are another great source of information about global education projects, like the ones mentioned on Always Learning or on Beyond School.

And I have to say that Twitter or any source that lets you network with other like-minded folks is a great resource for connections and ideas.  I am not incredibly familiar with Facebook, but I think it has that same sort of ability for sharing.  Using a resource like this to network is like having a constant live-feed of ideas from other professionals.

But I think the key thing for me is not the technology, but is thinking about those qualities above that make me feel giddy as a learner, and then figuring out how we can bring more of those things into our classrooms and libraries.   Wouldn’t it be awesome to have learning that wakes our students up in the morning and makes them WANT to come to school? 

5 Comments

  • » Left Behind… Cathy Nelson’s Professional Thoughts

    [...] say “played.”  One of my virtual friends has even blogged today about her feeling of giddiness, and  asked that oh so difficult question–do our school kids leave learning with a feeling [...]

  • mscofino

    I absolutely love this statement:

    “But I think the key thing for me is not the technology, but is thinking about those qualities above that make me feel giddy as a learner, and then figuring out how we can bring more of those things into our classrooms and libraries.”

    You totally hit the nail on the head with this post. What are we doing to ensure our students are excited about learning? I watched my students collaborate online all year last year and I can honestly say I’ve never seen a bunch so enthusiastic and excited about learning – the potential to connect and collaborate with students all around the world on issues that were meaningful to them was so powerful.

    Students who would ordinarily “opt out” were doing extra, students who are quiet in class were vocal online, students who normally like to “push buttons” were focused and engaged. Everything we do at school should be like that. Now we just have to get everyone else we work with to realize it…

  • teachingsagittarian

    It is the opportunity to share this amazing feeling that you so beautifully state as “making me feel giddy as a learner”, that encourages me to get up every morning to work with students. Web2.0 tools have most certainly energized and excited me as I continue my journey as a life-long learner. I owe it to myself and to the students in my class to ensure they are as excited about learning as I am. It was so cool to have the opportunity to “meet” with you in a skype conference call!
    Chrissy (NZ)

  • Janice Friesen

    What I can’t figure out is how you keep up with all of this. How can I filter and select what is really worthwhile. There just seems like too much and so there are times when I just block it all out so that I can get on with daily life (or get to bed). It seems like every day there is a new exciting Web 2.0 tool. There are so many that I still have not tried that I feel behind already and I am a leader in technology. I guess we all have our own pace and mine seems to be a bit slower than some…

  • Annie Teich

    I clicked over from Lee Wilson’s Education Business blog to read your exciting post. What you’ve described is exactly what happens in the best classrooms with or without technology. That giddyness at new discovery, the joy of collaboration, and realizing what it feels like to have your imagination and focused energy finally kick into gear and connect with something important- perhaps in a different place than where you thought you were going – that’s what 21st century skills is all about.

    While it is difficult to know where and how to invest your time wisely, you just have to jump in wherever you are and learn the technology through trial and error just like everyone else. But it’s really not about the technology per se. It’s about where the technology takes us.

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