In reading this week’s chapter, I realized that the most important part of integrating Web 2.0 in formal learning environments is comfort and familiarity with emerging technologies. It’s a very simple idea, but one that is easy to assume and so to overlook. I think those of us with more comfort (which we would have to be because most of the class seems to be Ed Tech oriented) can easily forget that for most classroom teachers many of these technologies and the very idea of using them in their classrooms with students is a very foreign and unknown concept. When talking up these new ideas in professional development situations, it is important to remember that new media Web 2.0 technology literacy might be a completely new term and will probably need to be explicitly defined “as an individual’s ability to understand, evaluate, manage, and use Web 2.0 technologies that enhance constructivist and social-constructivist communication and collaboration to create knowledge and learning products. Note that from this definition, new media Web 2.0 technology literacy in education is critically important for both teachers and students” (Hsu, Ching, & Grabowski, 2010, p. 355).
Tagging, blogging, and collaborating on wikispaces were all given as excellent first steps into use of emerging technologies in formal classroom settings, and I think these three options are able to be used by less experienced educators without being too overwhelming for them. It is valuable to consider that “teachers’ technical capability was the fundamental predictor for any technology to be integrated in the classroom. That is, only after much hands-on practice will teachers start to feel confident about and consider adopting high level use of the technology with their students. This means that for a technology that requires complex skills and has a long and steep learning curve, teachers are less likely to develop the confidence they need to adopt it” (Hsu, Ching, & Grabowski, 2010, p. 354). We don’t want to disadvantage teachers and by extension their students by not providing the support that teachers need to become more fluent with new literacies. Table 1 on page 357 would be a good method of introducing teachers to new ideas for using emerging technologies in their classrooms, but I feel like the table is perhaps a bit too regimented. For simplicity’s sake, I can see the point of partitioning off the three technologies in the way that the authors did, but I worry people who are less familiar might come think of the assignments and cognitive applications as proscribed and not just suggestions. For example, wikis could easily be used to organize prior knowledge while tagging could be used more metacognitively, but the chart doesn’t reflect these uses.
I very much enjoyed the Mobile Tech and Learning course last semester, and it seems to me that using mobile technologies in the classroom could be a good gateway for teachers who aren’t yet fully comfortable with more web-based instruction techniques. “Mobiles allow very simple tools to be easily integrated into classroom activities with no need for involvement of IT or support staff” (Johnson, Smith, Willis, Levine, & Haywood, 2011, p. 13). By using simple apps on technologies that the students would provide (i.e. their own Smartphones), the teacher could ease into new technologies without having to step too far outside their own classrooms into the wider world of the Internet. Once the teacher was feeling more adventurous, he or she could then think about more intensive uses of mobile technologies in digital literacy instruction, such as augmented reality. “AR that relies on mobile devices leverages an increasingly ubiquitous tool, not for social interactions but for learning, blurring the boundaries between formal and informal learning, which can in turn contribute to the evolution of a learning ecology that transcends educational institutions. Indeed, the potential for just-in-time learning and exploration, without special goggles or other equipment, is a deeply compelling aspect of this technology” (Johnson, Smith, Willis, Levine, & Haywood, 2011, p. 17).
As a media specialist, I can’t just think about my own technology uses, but also the uses of the classroom teachers who would depend on my however rightly or wrongly assumed expertise in new technologies. I would hope that by encouraging baby steps like suggested by this week’s authors, I would then be able to help teachers move from apps connected to a chart, map, or textbook into more advanced, yet still accessible means of digital instruction, such as tagging found articles, collaborating on creative wiki projects, or encouraging reflection and publishing through blogs. I worry about school and district policies getting in the way, and I worry about teachers’ own concerns with privacy and Internet safety in their classrooms stopping them from being innovative. Many of these teachers will look to me, and I’m thinking that through classes like this one I will be able to make them feel more comfortable in these new educational surroundings.