Online Professional Development- As Easy as 1.0, 2.0, 3.0…

Over holiday break, many educators around New Jersey could probably be seen on their computers at home, checking emails filled with holiday greetings from friends & family, connecting with those same people on networking sites like Facebook, sharing pictures of their children/grandchildren on sites like Flickr & Picasa, and maybe even watching videos of their nieces/nephews’ annual Holiday Concerts on YouTube (It sure beats having to actually sit through the concert in person, right?).

My Mom, who’s also an educator in Monmouth County, did all of those things over the holiday break. So, the other day, while I was mapping out this article in my mind, I asked her for some help.

“Mom, what do you think Web 2.0 means?”
“Web 2.0?” she said. “I didn’t even know there was a Web 1.0!”

Most of my Mom’s daily activities on the Internet are perfect examples of Web 2.0, which means she has joined millions of others (especially educators) who are changing the Internet without even realizing it.
Depending on whom you ask, Web 2.0 is either a technological revolution or meaningless jargon. But all can agree the concept is transforming the Internet– backed by ideas that bring people together, users who generate content and new, easy-to-use technologies that make it all possible. Web 2.0 is all about the proliferation of connectivity & interactivity via the internet.
Many people have tried to pin down a specific “definition” for Web 2.0, but Tim Berners-Lee says the term “Web 2.0? doesn’t mean anything. Berners-Lee is credited as the inventor of the World Wide Web and currently holds the 3Com Founders Chair at the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence. “I think Web 2.0 is of course a piece of jargon, nobody even knows what it means,” he said in a 2006 podcast interview. “If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to people. But that was what the Web was supposed to be all along. Ten-15 years ago people had identified that the Web would become this, but it’s only recently that the technology exists to allow it to happen.”

Luca Cremonini Source:

Definitions aside, what Web 2.0 really means is that you can communicate with anyone, anywhere, at any time. Educationally speaking- what an amazing & powerful concept! For example, you and your students can participate in a LIVE video conference with astronauts on the International Space Station. And when I say participate, I mean participate! Your students can ask questions and get responses in real-time. And, in terms of Professional Development, Web 2.0 means not only that it’s available twenty-four, seven on-demand, but that you can also contribute to other educators’ learning & growth in ways previously unimaginable!

The abundance of information available online is amazing and can often leave users bewildered, unable to determine what is useful. After all, who really has time to shovel through all that information? But if, in that vein, you abandon Web 2.0 applications, you will miss out on what is really at the heart of this surge in technology: the opportunity to provide your feedback and share your stories with fellow educators.

Many New Jersey educators are already using Web 2.0 technology at work. Notably, more than 10 percent of all the workshops offered at the 2008 NJEA Convention included information on incorporating Web 2.0 technology into the classroom. With many newer, younger members joining NJEA, Web 2.0 technology will become even more prevalent in public schools. According to the 2008 NJEA Strategic Member Poll, 35 percent of newer, younger members use a social networking website such as Facebook or Myspace at least once a week. Eleven percent uses them daily.

When NJEA asked members what Web 2.0 tools they would like to see on, they said they wanted blogs written by members, online chats related to the Association or education-related topics, podcasts, and private social networking sites set up specifically for NJEA members. To that end, here’s a quick break-down of the new Web 2.0 components offered by NJEA:



RSS feeds and podcasts

Social Networking

According to data compiled by NJEA, there are more than 31,000 teachers in New Jersey on Facebook. In October, NJEA joined many other NEA affiliates by creating an NJEA Facebook page to help communicate with members. Through this page, they are highlighting events such as the NJEA Convention, Read Across America, and American Education Week. The Association will continue to update the page with videos, photos from NJEA events, news, and events. To become a fan, search “New Jersey Education Association.” (You must have a Facebook account to view the page)
There’s no doubt that Web 2.0 communications will continue to become an ever-increasing way for NJEA to communicate with members and provide professional development. To give your feedback and ideas on how NJEA can best meet those needs, I encourage you to post a message on NJEA’s Facebook page.
Don’t let the Professional Development opportunities of Web 2.0 pass you by. Especially when Web 3.0 is right around the corner…

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  1. Anita Hutton said:

    Heather, I enjoyed reading your Blog on Web 2.0. It really does have amazing academic potential. One significant issue district educational leaders have is how to make access to these web 2.0 tools safe for our students. I would love to see a forum for suggestions as to how to make that happen. How do we make our networks flexible enough to use these tools while still keeping our students safe from others and even from themselves. It cannot just be the teacher’s responsibility. How do districts spend their technology budget in a way that will make the infrastructure sufficient to meet the needs of this new learning environment? I don’t have an answer, but it is something that has to be addressed, and I would love to see the whole community of teachers brainstorming about it.

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