As Jennifer Dorman, organizer of this very special event, stated in her blog, the DEN SuperSTARS are in beautiful Buck County at IU 22 for a Day of Discovery with 130 educators. Our keynote presenter, Steve Dembo, began with a great tool, Poll Everywhere, so we could text if we might be a digital immigrant as an introduction to his presentation, “Speaking Native.” Working from Marc Prensky’s “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants,” Steve laid the foundation for digital natives thinking differently, and that will always be the case since, since they grew up differently. If Digital Immigrants want to reach and teach Digital Natives, then they will have to change. Educators, because of the generation they came from, communicate differently, and because of the way schools are structured, we remove the way students grew up (media, gadgets, cool tools of Web 2.0) and put them into a school environment that mimics the way we grew up and learned. However, within the past 4 years, teachers have begun to display more traits of digital natives than the natives themselves.
There are four reasons why, and the first is the information explosion. Witness Google and any knowledge retrievable within 3 clicks with a white uncluttered screen with pull down searches that enable A LOT of information–a billion gigybytes = xabytes, and that’s what is out there. Connection = access. Second reason: The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman, who lists 10 flatteners. The ones that Steve feels have impacted us are “the steroids” = cell phones and how we access information. The second is outsourcing which has created an overabundance of Web 2.0 tools which have interconnectivity for other platforms, a very different way of capturing and creating information. The third is Wikinomics: collaboration + innovation = a new way to work. Wikispaces and Curriki are great examples of participation by enabling students to create their own “textbooks.” Free, accessible Web 2.0 tools enable innovation without being the source of invention. Google Lit Trips enable image, audio, video, and text insertion in a push pin within a geographical and chronological time line. Combining tools create a different digital landscape that creates sharing. Web 2.0 tools exist in “perpetual beta” with consumer feedback making a product better. How this applies to education is simple: students can document their learning by publishing their work before it is finished, documenting their learning processes, asking them to assess if they find value. The result: a “stamp” that certifies a finished product. The last flattener is new ways to work: collaboratively with tools that take learning from beta to “Texte de Qualite’.”
Consequently, democratization of education through a deep tool box and a new expert = new ways to work and create and share information to the cycle of knowledge. The result: a new kind of innovation with a new kind of expert. Knowledge + tools = democratization. What that means is that The Community becomes My Network. The people who participate in the community have an equal sense of ownership. Great examples: Twitter. Both let you share discoveries within your social network. The catch: you get to choose who you follow with a stream of discoveries–anytime, everywhere. WiZiQ, collaborative software, discussed through Twitter, can let anyone anywhere jump into the WiZiQ room so that they could evaluate the “value” of the tool. What this collaboration became was a spontaneous global professional development session on a Saturday morning before coffee, and why did they do it? Because they wanted to collaborate together and improve their ability to teach students. Ning allows you to create your own social network, much like myspace or facebook, enabling public or private access that is customizable according to your needs. Classroom 2.0 and Library 2.0 are specific places where you can find your niche network, or you can create your own network. The best part: you can create as many spaces as you want with high focus and a sense of ownership that they are very sticky. Second Life is a great opportunity for distance learning, where educators can get together in global collaboration in a virtual environment. DEN has a Second Life group that meets every Wednesday. Why: because it’s fun and they learn about distance learning and professional development opportunities. Within Second Life, you can listen to radio broadcasts, become multimodal, be social, and have fun doing it.
So, teachers who participate in social networking mimic the characteristics of a native speaker and speak digital as the new digital natives. Why? Because they jump into and use the new Web 2.0 tools. Teachers are becoming the new digital natives and the students are following. Students follow the new hot spots but teachers are forging new ground. Witness Diigo. Within 3 days, Steve received 300 invitations to share resources and knowledge on Diigo. Did you know about Google Presentation. Kristin Hockanson jumped into Diigo and became a part of Diigo and then Twittered it to her group so they could join her as she taught how to use del.icio.us. Fifty people joined in because of Twitter, added to the 50 in Korea that were already there with Diigo. Since Google Presentation has a chat window, people globally could participate, and the chat could be saved. Synthesizing audiences can create a “back channel” that validates what Kristin was doing through tools like ustream.tv or meebo.
Ninety percent of what happens occurs on teachers own time. Why? Because most of these sites are blocked at school. But what is happening is that teachers more and more are keeping things quiet, because if they don’t, then someone will blog about it and then their sites will be filtered. Steve says that teachers go to great length to devise ways to access Twitter to circumvent the filters. He sees a lot of that, because teachers want to participate in and share with their network during the school day. And let’s face it; it’s a great learning and teaching resource. Tweetscan.com is a live application that lets you search and find resources on your own, or you can go directly to a feed, but connectivity is the reason: they want to bring people into their network and will sacrifice time and energy on “their own time” to help others learn and speak native. It’s part of the democratization cycle; they want to be experts and help you speak native.
The native way to attend a conference is to participate in live blogs. We are streaming at ustream.tv right now and are sharing it out. Type in Teach42 and you will find our conference with Steve live right now. I am blogging live and Twittering and posting to the PA DEN. I can tap into Hitchikker and blog about this conference. ChatCasting lets you face-to-face with Skype which creates another back channel for chatting while we are listening to Steve. So, how many platforms are open and in use: lots. We really are the new digital natives. Back channels let you save, so what Steve is saying will be saved, recorded, and available for network sharing.
Lifelong learning happens anywhere, anytime. Your networks let you learn as you play with new tools. The benefit: knowledge, distance learning, collaborative chatting in chat windows, streaming with meebo or ustream.tv. Jeff Utrect can attend in Shanghi while Steve and his friends are streaming in Chicago. What was Jeff doing: professional development–but of a different kind, in a different way. If you give a man a fish, if you teach a man to fish, if you connect a man who fishes…. You get the idea.
Steve ‘s final word: do not let learning stop–connect with other people and share, share, share by connecting to other people. It’s DENs motto: connecting people to their best resources: each other. Catchy but true, because the next brilliant idea that is new and innovative that can be shared and have value is in this room right now. Make connections, turn around, and share.
Later on I promise to provide links, photos, and the stream if it’s archived, but for now, I’m just happy to get this post online for you.
Q & A Session:
Open tools through Web 2.0 can create problems because they are open tools, but we must remember as educators to model effectively these new tools and teach them the ethics of responsible use with boundaries.