After the frustrations of the previous post, (some of which has still to be resolved grumble), it was nice to get out into the provinces again and work with some really nice folk, teachers. Monday last I had the privilege of going to a friend’s school to do some introductory presentations on digital storytelling, wikis and blogs. The three hour long sessions were part of a bigger day for a group of rural schools on their annual combined curriculum day. To make things easier for myself I decided to gather together my digital storytelling examples on yet another wiki, http://digistories.pbwiki.com/.
It was interesting to find that the most popular session was to be the digital storytelling one with some 20 participants, with 7 for the wikis and 14 for the blogs. This was interesting in itself but the reason for the diminished interest in the wikis and blogs was further re-inforced when only 2 participants in both of the sessions could truly say that they were even aware of what either was. By the end of each of these two sessions though all participants had a brand new blog and wikispace and at least soem basic knowledge of what they could possibly do with both. Not bad work all in an hour and suggestive that given a little gentle assistance even the novice can get themselves into Web 2.0 fairly effortlessly.
Of course the challenge now is for the teachers involved to actually develop sound pedagogical rationales to use the spaces. This is of course one of the on-going problems of the one-off PD type sessions and one that I have wrestled with quite a bit of late. During the previous week I worked with a number of classes setting up similar spaces. This was doubly interesting because the school I was working with was a special development school. The task this time was to engage in a conversation with the teacher, (and in most cases the class), to determine whether they were looking for a blog or wiki and then to explain to the students just what the space we were creating could do for them. Once this was established I then set about creating the space and the member identities. This was all done within an hour block which was quite a challenge as it was also on one of those days when dear old edublogs had decided to do some upgrade works. Picture if you will some 16 mildly intellectually disabled students watching an interactive whiteboard to see there new edublogs identities created only to see a blank screen come up, not once but three times.
In the end I did manage to get the spaces set up however having only one hour on that one day to work with the teachers I am left wondering how and what they and their students have made of their spaces. I will be heading back to the school next week but do feel quite guilty that I haven’t been able to check in with them in the interim. Hopefully the enthusiasm and interest built up previously, (blank blog creation screens notwithstanding), will still be there and we can really start them on their Web 2.0 pathways. And that is probably the biggest concern in all this seeding many teachers familiar with blogs etc are doing; can we provide the neccessary ongoing support so that the use becomes embedded in real education outcomes and not just become a fancy add-on or worse something that becomes just too hard because vital support is unavailable.