So Our Goal Was To Make A Difference With Web 2.0 – Will We Succeed?

As someone who embraced technology as a learning tool early on (my first classroom computer was a 64K Apple ll – not even a lle) I’m right there with many in the edblogosphere that have come to the conclusion that the snails pace of adoption by many in education would be enhanced if we had many examples of it truly making a difference in schools. My class has now successfully included a student that cannot attend school because of her leukemia twice using FREE video Skype software (see here and here). Our plan is to do it as many days as she feels up to it. And beyond the obvious implications of that, what needs to be pointed out is that it was EASY. Beyond getting her a DSL line and computer, which took the better part of 2 months, setting up the Skype connection literally took less than half an hour at her house and our classroom combined. My fourth graders that came into this year having close to zero experience with technology beyond video games and phones, hook up the laptop and web cam we use easily after we did it ONE TIME (we’ve done it twice more since).

Will this make a difference in Celest’s life? The rest of my students’ lives? Others’ lives? Does this project have implications for web 2.0 beyond what we are trying to accomplish here (including someone)? Besides using Skype my students have already used Flickr, blogged, used email, word processed, used digital still and video cameras and planned a video about this experience – and we have only been doing it for 3 days. The exciting thing is we will experience the answers to these questions. More as it unfolds.

Learning is messy!

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6 thoughts on “So Our Goal Was To Make A Difference With Web 2.0 – Will We Succeed?

  1. I love your above post, especially the example of how youh ave found to share your classroom with a home-bound student. My school district currently blocks access to all blogs, wikis and podcasts, so I am seeking specific examples that demonstrate the significant benefits of Web 2.0. I want to convince our esteemed leaders to let us get into this, even though it may get a bit “messy.”

    Your comment about the Apple II was fun. I began this adventure in early 1981, using the same equipment. As you know, programs ran from 5 1 /4″ floppy discs, there was no hard drive. When I wanted to save a file, I removed the program disc, inserted my data disc, saved, and switched back again. I still remember when I added a second drive. What a relief.

  2. This is exciting to read about – especially considering the advantages it offers your new student. The rest of the kids will no doubt remember this for a long time if it becomes a regular part of their experience. And that’s the big thing. Whatever we do with technology it has to be easy enough to become a regular part of the school experience, and it has to have a real (obvious) purpose that accomplishes something that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible. How lucky for all those kids that you are the teacher who got this assignment! Have fun with it. Like anyone would have to tell you that 🙂

  3. I think that it a great thing. You are making a difference and you are doing things that can become regular practice. I echo Doug’s comment, you’re students are lucky to have someone willing to step outside the box to try new things. It’s only going to get more exciting!

  4. Brian,
    Absolutely fantastic what you have accomplished! You have made a difference in many young lives, no doubt. And if your story gets out there, it may well make a difference far beyond your classroom and the home of Celeste.

    Hats off to you! (and if was really THAT easy, I’ll eat that hat – grin). All the best – Mark

  5. Joel, Doug, Kelly and Mark – thanks for the words of encouragement … Mark really downloading Skype and making the connection is very simple (you know that, you Skype) – it was all the calls to get internet connections, a computer, and a phone line installed, those things took 2 months. I originally thought we would have it up and going by Thanksgiving.

  6. Brian,
    I am very impressed with this project. So much of what we use technology for is egocentric in nature. We use technology for our own entertainment, our own means to share our own thoughts with the world, our own continuing education, and so on. Yet, you are teaching your students to reach beyond themselves; to use technology for the betterment of another person. I believe that the life-lessons you are teaching your students will endure throughout their lifetimes. The technology will continue to change, but the desire to help others should always be present in the human spirit. That is what yo are modeling for kids.

    I plan on sharing this project with the staff at my school. I believe we all can use technology to make the world a better place.
    – Dave