It seems that every time I turn around I see another new, or new and improved, tool out there that catches my attention and sends my mind into the, "I gotta sign up for that," mode. I have to admit it is very enticing when you see all of these innovative new tools coming at you fast and furious.
When you look at all of these new Web 2.0 technology offerings, making a choice can be like drinking water from a fire hose. I mean before you know it, if you lose your focus, you are signed up for a large number of sites that you find out you don't have any time to master or really integrate into your curriculum. The best advice that I can give is to take a deep breath and do your homework while developing your own Web 2.0 “Tool Kit.” By doing this you can develop skills and lessons based around your tool kit and then grow them from there. It’s very tempting to want to try all of the new things that you come across, but you need to explore them and make a decision as to whether that will work for you or not. Don’t try to “drink” them all in, take small “sips.”
So, how would one go about developing their own Web 2.0 toolkit? Here's my advice, and of course, I want to hear yours and what you use:
- Take time and reflect on your curricular goals and try to pinpoint areas that could be improved by the integration of a new tool or technology. Reflection is the key here, don't jump into the world of Web 2.0 without a plan and a clear focus on what you want yourself, and your students, to get out of it.
- Once you have a plan start to reach out to your colleagues both in person and through any networks that you have developed via your Personal Learning Network (You are developing your PLN aren't you??). Ask, what others in your curricular area have had successes and struggles with and filter that through your level of expertise as well as the vision that you have created in step one.
- Once you have made the decision take "baby steps," and make sure that you learn it well enough first before you fully implement it. Then identify a group of students that you feel would be a good group to pilot your new-found tool. Don't be afraid to have it fail at first, let the kids teach you what they have found it can do. They may come up with an entirely new, and innovative, approach to using it. Remember they are the experts sometimes.
- Once you have gone through the steps above stop and reflect again. I can't stress this enough, reflection should be a part of your daily routine. If it's not, then you are missing a very important step in your personal and professional life. Reflect on your successes and failures, as well as the feedback you received from your students and any observations that you have made.
Creating your Web 2.0 toolkit can be a daunting task. But, every craftsman has one and if you want to be successful educating our modern learners the you need your own to master your craft as well. Like real tools, your Web 2.o "Tool Kit," will get old, and better tools will come around, so always remember to go back through the process every once in a while to see if it's time to re-tool. Also, by all means continue to add new tools and grow it as well!!
So, now it's your turn. How have you developed your tool kit? What implementation strategies have worked for you and what are your favorite tools? Let's share our success and failures so we can all grow together.
Remember don't "drink" too fast, take small "sips" and leave time for reflection!!