the blogger said,
"to reflect on many things...
On Podcasts, Wikis, Voicethreads,
the Blogosphere and Nings."
Oh, yes, it's time to wrap up and reflect on my learning in EDES 501, but where did the term go? I can't believe our family is already decorating Rudolph cookies (or as Liam used to say, Rude Elf Cookies) and counting down the sleeps to Christmas. In a time of looking forward, it's hard to stop and glance back. But it does help to provide closure, so here goes...
Back in September, I was very excited to start a blog with a purpose - and to see some web tools that I was familiar with like Flickr and Facebook. I was equally excited that we would be learning some tools I'd been curious about, but had not tried, such as Podcasts, RSS feeds and Wikis. At the beginning of the course I had no idea about Nings, Voicethreads, or Social Bookmarks, so I was a little worried about entering uncharted territory. Overall, I think my comfort level with the course was quite good because I felt a balance between what I already knew, what I wanted to know, and the unknown.
Like Jan, there were times I wished I was in a classroom/library so that I could use the tools immediately for educational purposes. Instead, I used my children, my husband, and my friends as participants (for Podcasts, Voicethreads, Nings and Wikis). This was very rewarding for me as I got to witness the tools from different perspectives. My children were completely comfortable with the technology, and excited by it. My husband was interested in it as a fellow educator with a particular expertise in New Literacies. My friends, however, were much less comfortable with it. I invited several of them to join me in co-writing stories on my Wiki (Storybutter), but the process of signing up and navigating the site was daunting to them, and most did not even try. These 3 different perspectives gave me an insight into what I will most likely experience from staff and students at school: feelings of excitement and curiosity merging with, or struggling against feelings of wariness and apprehension. It is good to be prepared for diversity, and I look forward to rising to that challenge.
The hands-on requirement that we explore and blog about a different tool each week was definitely the highlight of the course for me. I enjoyed being able to create Podcasts and Voicethreads with my kids, and often looked forward to reading classmates blogs to see how they approached each Web 2.0 tool. It was interesting to see that we all had the same topics to work with, but our approaches were unique. One drawback of learning a new tool each week, however, was the fact that I felt I didn't have enough time to explore my classmates blogs the way I wanted to. I had to race through the blogs, and leave them behind so I could gear up for the next topic. I was able to comment here and there, but rarely got to check for follow-up. I was also aware that my classmates and instructor were in the same rushed boat, so I tried to be as brief as possible in my writing.
While I could see schools benefiting greatly from most of the tools we worked with, there were a couple that I did not connect with entirely. RSS Feeds and Social Bookmarks were my least favourite. That is not to say that they are not important or useful - in fact they will likely become more meaningful to me when I am in a teaching or library position and can use them in a more professional manner - I just didn't get as excited about them as the other tools.
The good news is that I feel like a path into Web 2.0 has been created for me and my future students and staff. I know that technology changes quickly, and by the time I am in a position again, there will be another fountain of great tools to dip into. With all of this exploration in Web 2.0 behind me, I feel certain I can explore any new tools with confidence. I now know where to go for guidance - I am familiar with leading voices in Web 2.0 like Will Richardson and Doug Johnson - and will likely continue to follow their blogs so that I keep as current as possible.
In closing, I would like to thank my fellow EDES 501 classmates, and my instructor, Joanne de Groot - it was a pleasure learning with all of you this term, and I wish you the best! Now, if we were in a real classroom, instead of this virtual one we've created, I would pass around a tin of "Rude Elf" cookies and wish you all a "Happy Holiday!" In the spirit of Web 2.0, I'll share the photo with you instead.