Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach made an important statement about Web 2.0 tools and learning:
It’s All about the Learning
Teachers like tangibles. I think the reason there is so much focus on the tools, rather than how to use the tools to support learning is because when we are learning something new we want something concrete to manipulate. Web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis and podcasts give us that concrete fix. Teachers, like their students, need time to explore the tools before getting on with the learning. However, at some point in a PD 2.0 workshop the focus needs to switch from the tool itself to making the tool a seamless medium for mastery of standards-based objectives and 21st Century life skills.
I have been blogging about my favorite tools lately and I don’t want anyone to get the idea that it’s all about the tools – it’s not – it’s about how the tools support learning. I think Sheryl is right when she states that teachers like students want some time to play around with tools. My concern is always if the the learning stops when the tool is mastered -OR- does the ease of the tool now allow the focus to be whether this new tool will actually support or enhance learning or not.
Learning is social. Web 2.0 tools are social and collaborative in nature. The tools embrace the read/write/reflect nature of learning. It is critical for teachers to utilize blogs, wikis, podcasting, and other mash-up tools themselves before they bring these technologies to their classrooms. Once they have experienced this powerful medium that gives them a voice and an audience who reads, responds and reflects upon what they have said – then they will understand how this can be powerful for their own students.
Because quite frankly, their students are probably already doing it at home and if a teacher doesn’t immerse themselves into this digital world, they will most likely attempt to use Web 2.0 in a instructivist teacher-centered mode. What a shame it will then be when the teacher complains that “these tools” don’t work and throw them out.
It’s not just about the tools. It’s about embracing a student-centered environment where students have choice … are given opportunities to have their voice heard … are encouraged to be creative … and take ownership of their own learning.
Our students want this type of learning. Are we providing it?
(Note: Motivational poster made at fd’s Flickr Toys)