Thanks to Alice Barr, I not only set up my skype, I got to talk to a real person! This may seem old hat to many, but the speed at which I went from figuring out how to add a contact, to finding a contact, to messaging, to talking . . took no time at all. Really, about 2 minutes until Alice got in touch, then 10 minutes to get talking. This whole experience is really feeding my instant gratification needs. With any luck I’ll be able to do a skype conversation with the Seedlings at some point – that will be really fun!
The key to it all is the support one feels through the various means of contact. Learning with others, and watching their learning happen via comments and posts in the ning gives me confidence to dive right in. Knowing there is someone out there with some answers when I get stuck is also key. The where and when is truly less crucial (despite my instant gratification example above), and the duration can fit my window of opportunity. I’m suddenly seeing many more windows!
The ACTEM MaineEd07 conference was Thursday and Friday – and there were 800 people there, with access to tons of workshops, lots of vendors, and a keynote that pointed out some of the implications for web 2.0 in the classroom. I learned lots and presented two of the workshops. I realized that I have learned a large percentage of what I know about technology from opportunities such as this – they come accross email and I sign up and go. Then I get to bring the information back to the staff at my building or district – sometimes presenting, sometimes just sharing as things come up in conversation during lunch duty or wherever.
We hope that administrators will provide SOME time for us to get tech training, which at this point is as much conceptual as it is “how to” on a tool or software app. I also recognize that many teachers don’t want to/can’t add another thing to their time outside of the school day – we’re already over-booked and way under-compensated. The key for me was Will Richardson’s statement about modeling the practice. We need to be citizens of the digital age – which means that we need to learn this stuff for US, and OUR LEARNING. It is only when we become comfortable and functional with tools that we can then adequately implement them. I’m just now learning how to access the social networks that exist out there – other Educators (in Maine and around the world) who learn about opportunities and tools and share them. With them as my “net”, I am finding out about GREAT things that I’ve never heard about before, since I had been depending on only my principal and technology coordinator to pass things along.
Bottom line: it won’t all be delivered during in-service time, so get out there and find what YOU need, and use the tools and networks of people you trust to choose what works for you.