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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Someone needs to write a book on Web 2.0 for aging educators

I don't generally consider myself 'old' but when it comes to social networking and other aspects of Web 2.0, it's hard to deny that I am far behind the curve; not as behind the curve as many of my colleagues, but behind the curve nonetheless. And yet, I've become something of a Web 2.0 junkie in the last month, as I've been considering ways to incorporate blogs into my classes. Investigating blogs led me to podcasting, Second Life, de.li.cious, Twitter, wikis, and Facebook (which also led to Pandora and I'm sure that's not anywhere near the end) (and I know I should provide direct links to all those websites but really, do I need to?). There's so much information out there and every website leads me to other websites with even more great information. I've probably added 20 RSS feeds to my aggregator in the last five days and I'm trying to be more selective but this is one of the pitfalls for academics in particular - we're always looking for one more book or article or website, hoping that we'll eventually find one that provides exactly the information we want.

But what led to the title of this post was that I was reading something this morning that mentioned instant messaging and I had a question that I've wondered about before - if someone IMs you, what's the etiquette if you don't/can't respond immediately? One of the reasons I don't IM a lot, preferring to stick with e-mail, is that when someone sends me a message, I feel compelled to respond right away (after all, it's called instant messaging, right?). And then they respond, and then I have to respond, and I just never know how to end the conversation without seeming rude. With email, I don't feel the same compulsion to respond immediately. Maybe it's OK for me to ignore IMs as well, or am I supposed to set my profile to 'offline' anytime I don't feel like responding instantly? I usually forget, or forget to change it back when I am available. That's when it occurred to me that someone really needs to write a guide for people like me, people who want to use these new technologies and social networking tools but aren't entirely sure of the 'rules'. That's not quite the same thing as not knowing how these things work; I know there are probably lots of books and websites that explain the basics but I don't need someone to walk me through how to set up a Twitter account - I need someone to tell me how I use it, how I build a network, how often people usually tweet, etc. I'm sure I could figure this stuff out if I spend enough time digging around different websites but if anyone knows of a good central source for this sort of info, please let me know. My guess is that faculty would be a lot more willing to consider using these tools in their classes if they weren't worried that their students would know substantially more than they do!


  1. Speaking as an aging but tech savvy educator, I have a few ideas for you.
    1. Give everyone in your department a single topic to research, e.g. Twitter, and present a brief report on how to get started with it and what the benefits might be in the classroom.
    2. Do number 1, but use the kids in your class instead of other educators.
    3. Bring in a trainer for some inservice.
    4. Go to conferences where tech topics are explored for educators.

  2. It's interesting enough that you keep a blog. The furthest my professors have gone in the web 2.0 route is... nowhere -- just Yahoo! Groups.
    I'm sorry but right now, I don't think there's one place that this is aggregated and targeted to 'aging' educators. Thanks for validating my notion that there is a need for this since it is one of the ideas I've been playing around in my head as well; all the sites I know are for the techie generation.
    But here's a good one for Twitter.

  3. Thanks Marie - the link you gave is exactly the sort of thing I need! And thanks for the ideas Virginia - I'm just beginning to appreciate the size of the instructional technology community and am slowly discovering all the resources available for folks like me. I'm hoping that as I learn more about this new world, maybe I can figure out ways to lead some of my colleagues in as well...


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