The first segment of this post discussed the use of technology in teaching highlighting the central role that network technology has played in the civil unrest and ousting of dictatorships in the persian gulf.
Teachers tend not to be at the cutting edge of technology and it may be difficult to realize its full impact of the digital native generation without understanding the basic principles.
Web 2.0 – views and treats the internet differently from the way it has traditionally been viewed. Within this framework the internet is viewed more as a platform on which the user provides data and exercises more control over it – basically life is lived on the web. This is different from Web 1.0 which views the internet as a portal for retrieving information (eg. checking classes on offer).
The Cloud – Cloud computing basically means that if your computer was stolen, besides the hardware your losses would be minimal. Your data (documents, presentations, etc) are all stored in the cloud( you the end user, knows nothing about the physical location or configuration of the system) and you can access them from anywhere – much like email. All you need is a computer with internet access. It is gradually eliminating the need for 3rd party software (eg. microsoft office) but rather uses ‘apps’ located in’ the cloud’ and automatically updated.
The first thing the teacher who wants to stay relevant should do is to understand web 2.0 and perhaps become immersed in that global subculture.
Get a facebook account if you don’t have one, and realize what a rich resource youtube can normally be. Use the google apps and see how apps can be used in place of your regular office suite as well as their collaborative capacities.
social networking sites have become the social hub of the millenial generation and at least one study has found on campus facebook activity to predict retention rate of freshmen on the campus.
What are practical ways the teacher can utilize this web 2.0 technology?
Use google apps and have students work on papers in collaborative groups without having to be physically together and you can even find out the students who really contributed to a paper in googledocs for instance, by using the ‘see revision history’ under the file menu.
Make use of youtube to provide alternate sources of information. The typical college student uses it anyway and despite their high distraction factor, they are more likely to spike the interest of the students and prompt further exploration.
The aim of this part of the discussion however is not to list specific ways to use technology, but rather to suggest a ‘reframing’ which helps the professor bring the act of teaching into the social medium of the present day student.
If they live in the cloud and we want them to learn – lets teach on the cloud!
One caution though:
Technology is no substitute for skill, and will not turn you into a good teacher if you a poor one!