Is enthusiasm for web 2.0 and its potential to positively reform educational teaching methods across the globe overblown? An international audience including Darren Kuropatwa in Canada, Ewan McIntosh in Scotland, Miguel Guhlin in San Antonio, Texas, and Wesley Fryer in Lubbock, Texas, engaged in a lively discussion this evening via skype to explore these and other issues. Specifically, the questions we addressed were: Is enthusiasm in the blogsphere for web 2.0 overblown, since the realities of the modern, accountability-driven classroom overpower individual drives for creative innovation? Is there hope for systemic school reform in the United States and elsewhere in the world? Should schools repurpose their existing educational technology budgets, which largely serve now to support a traditional transmission-based model (pedagogy) of instruction? (And do something radical instead, like pay their teachers more?!)

Program Length: 59 min, 49 sec
File size: 14.4 MB

Podcast 12 Jan 2006(Click here to listen to this podcast)

Show notes for this podcast include:

  1. Darren Kuropatwa’s blog: A Difference
  2. Ewan McIntosh’s blog: edublog
  3. Miguel Guhlin’s blog: Mousing Around
  4. Wesley Fryer’s blog: Moving at the Speed of Creativity
  5. Our skypecast planning and idea wiki
  6. Clarence Fisher’s Remote Access blog
  7. Scottish Schools Digital Network
  8. The Other Side of Outsourcing Video
  9. Levels of Technology Implementation by Chris Moersch
  10. Alan Levine’s blog: CogDogBlog
  11. Brian Lamb’s blog: Abject Learning
  12. How did we have this free conversation, record it and publish it for a global audience? See paragraph 3 of this blog post.

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  • Wesley,

    Thanks for the podcast. It was very thought provoking. Just a few days ago I posted something on my blog on the topic which tied right into what you were talking about. Here is my current conclusion (from http://malahinitx.blogspot.com)

    “But what holds things back? Why is there a dlay in using technology appropriately in schools? One thing – $$$$. Inservice training, equipment, support, expert technicians who can design network architecture and keep things up and running are expensive.

    We are trying to do school on the cheap so that we can continue to spend most of our tax dollars on weapons and homeland security.

    All of the above is not to say that I don’t believe that Web 2.0 and the possibility of true interaction using the web will not make a difference. It is HUGELY important. But, that is not the issue. We can blogevangelize all we want and still the same percentage of teachers will adopt the change. We can keep trying to collect DATA to prove that technologies will make a difference in learning. But until we decide as a nation that our children and future generations are important investments we will NOT make any changes to school as it has been for the last 100 years.”

    Here are a few thoughts generated from the Podcast:
    1. Ewan mentioned using technology as a kid and the fact that it formed what kind of a teacher he is (technology using). I wonder if there have ALWAYS been a few “early adopters” who thought differently when they were kids and now they are on the cutting edge as teachers using technology? What evidence is there that this will not always be the case?
    2. Do tech support needs grow to fill whatever space they are given? This is in reaction to Michael Guilin saying that Campus Tech Specialists don’t really make change because they just end up doing tech support rather than coaching. I like the idea of a new model. I just wonder if the model of the campus tech specialist is a problem because those people have been asked to do too many tech support tasks and they need to say no????

  • Janice, thanks for sharing your questions. Education is always under-funded, whether we spend money on buying the latest and greatest or spend cheap and go with free, open source software. Why? Because school districts are spending taxpayer dollars. In the years of plenty, we bought the best we could afford in hardware and software–even though, like Eliot Solloway, we didn’t need “excess functionality” that wasn’t used.

    So, can we measure the country’s priority on education by the amount of money spent on technology? I don’t believe so…on people, perhaps. What we need to do is ask, why are we spending so much money on hardware/software that will be used divorced from Curriculum & Instruction?

    Let’s forget campus/district technology specialists. Let’s just focus on people who teach who happen to use technology to communicate coherently, and collaborate constructively.

    Miguel Guhlin
    http://www.mguhlin.net/blog

  • In terms of possibilities for systemic change I can highly recommend Fullan, Michael (2005) Leadership & Sustainability: System Thinkers in Action http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1412904951/002-4457352-3152828?v=glance&n=283155

    I found Fullan’s descriptions of the issues and nature of transformational leadership at school, district and system level to closely parallel my own experiences within our State education system.

    On the role of tech support mentioned by Janice I strongly support other models. We didn’t really get much movement in more teachers using ICT until we:

    1. provided ICT coaches (who were teachers)
    2. used students to provide a Help Desk service to take pressure of tech support staff
    3. allowed tech support to say no to unplanned requests for new technology/applications
    4. supported existing quality teacher professional learning modules in ICT with time to access them
    5. provided teachers with a computer in their staffroom (1:4 initially) and their classes with a realistic chance of accessing computers during teaching time

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