Last week, a colleague and I went to a conference on using technology in the classroom. As we drove home we were discussing all the great things that he had seen and heard. He then asked me what one thing he should do to get started. So, what do you think? What would you suggest to someone with very little computer experience aside from using it for a word processor?

Tags: Web2.0, feedback, tools

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I would set him up on a book marking site like del.icio.us. I think that would be the most useful first step. In most subjects you need to do research, and you should be guiding the research towards suitable sites. This is one of the simplest ways to provide links to students without having the technical skills to build websites.
I'd have him set up a gmail account and then using Google Reader to subscribe to RSS feeds. This is such an easy and useful way to get started. It also has great personal utility as well as being professionally useful. (I'm a big believer that most people need to find personal uses for technologies before they're likely to make it a part of their professional lives.) I suggest the Google tools because the Google Reader widget can be configured to come up right on your Google home page (and everyone uses Google). Also the gmail account will open him up to a whole world of other great Web 2.0 tools when he's ready to delve deeper.
Thank you for your replies. I think that they all have merit and are good first steps. I'm going to see if there are more replies and I"ll fill you in on what I did later this week. Thanks to Deanna, Jennifer, James and Karen for replying!
I would like to support the RSS reader idea. I think that is a great way to get started gathering information about other technologies.
This has me thinking because Gail and I are trying to do some training setup in our area, and I've finished a blog training session recently. On the one hand, it's easy to overwhelm newbies to this. On the other hand, as someone who is facile with technology, I've found myself bored senseless at technology trainings that have "training wheels" on them. I'm polite, and I listen, but I've had the opposite effect at trainings where I leave and say, "Gee, where was the beef?" I'm not going to offer any advice on how to start, because the suggestions in previous comments are great. I'd just tell him, NOBODY does it all in the beginning. Find what seems interesting, understandable, or worth doing to you (blog/wiki/podcast/projecting lessons) and find out more about that.
I like the reader idea, too. Although I'm curious -- what is it that he wants to get done? I mean, perhaps this sounds a bit extra obvious -- but what he wants to do should dictate how/what he does to get started. I'd like to hear more of this story.
Alice, great non-committal comment. Are you looking for a central office position? Bud, he's not sure. At the point where we were discussing, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do with the techology. Now, he comments that he finds using some of technology frustrating because it won't do as he asks and he gets frustrated with what is happening at the school because he can't visit many of the sites he wants because they are blocked - he teaches biology and many of the searches turn up blocked sites. He wants to start using technology in his teaching, wants to try new things but just doesn't know where to start and I don't want to get him going only to have him frustrated. So, there's more of the story. Now, like all good stories, this one is not quite over but I want to see if anyone else will offer up some ideas before I tell the rest.
I'd suggest that he subscribe to some key educational blogs and podcasts. I find that to be an implementer, you must first be a consumer. Far too many newbies dive into the content creation mode without properly understanding the 'why' part of what we're suggesting they do.

my 2¢
Kelly, I wasn't being non-committal, because I would commit to the wisdom of those prior comments, it's just I can't add any more to that particular wisdom. The only wisdom I can add is that even the most technologically adept teacher doesn't do everything. I add that because it sounded like he was overwhelmed by how much was getting presented. I'm rarely unwilling to commit. My tagline around my house is "frequently in error, never in doubt" I would never last in a central office position because I am a pain in the butt in a way that is not tolerated well in a bureaucracy.
I've set up many web 2.0 usergroups in schools across my district. So far, they have created blogline accts and added a few blogs, set up delicious accts and added web resources, and a few have set up their own blogs and learned to podcast. Delicious is the thing that I get the most wows from. I also am a big fan of spreadsheets.
Take one application that you feel the most comfortable with (PowerPoint or Podcasting), then brainstrom on how you could use it to hit a standard or concept that you are working on in your classroom. I like to think of a higher order thinking skill that I would like them to demonstrate using the technology. Keep the focus on what you are learning, and use the technology (that he or she is most comfortable with) to demostrate the learning. Once you have that mastered, try something different . . .i movie or what not on another standard. Your experience level will grow over time and enjoy watching the engaged learning!
I would suggest directing him to a wiki that covers most of the classroom2.0 technologies. The 21st century learing project provides a wealth of information. Check it out http://abpc.wikispaces.com

Regards,

William Bishop (Bill)

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