I am a grad student and we are discussing Web 2.0. I am suppose to seek out an educator that is using new technologies (Web 2.0) with students in the classroom currently. I am suppose to find out:

1. How they decided which tools to use with their students.
2. What obstacles they needed to overcome to obtain permission to do such a project?
3. What advice they would give to a teacher seeking to replicate their efforts.

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Greetings,
I just joined and I found your question interesting. I am on a learning path to educate myself by trying different ways to incorporate WEB 2 in my university classroom to model for my teacher candidates. Many are placed in public schools with more technology than available at my university. We are all learning how to use social networking. I would start by setting up a page on a social network just for the class. You might start with Bing.com, which allows you to find specific sites with specific content. You the teacher, can highlight specific pieces of those links, leave notes and your students can also respond by leaving notes; others can leave notes in response to notes, etc.
I started last year using technology in my classroom everyday. I have a learning lab with 14 computers running Edubuntu.

1. How they decided which tools to use with their students.
First things first, I look at the curriculum standards for California for guidance. If I am unable to target these learning standards using technology I will not even bother having a lab. At this point I use Open Office for word processing and presentation activities. For research, we go online using Google and specific sites that I have chosen to accomplish our learning goals. During reading we use Dictionary.com, Word Central, and Yahoo Kids Dictionary for definitions and to hear words that are difficult to decode. I also use online textbook resources as support for my second language learners and RSP students. Students can silently read and listen to text in English or Spanish. I use my computers as a reward on Fridays during lunch, opening them up for playing games for those who have completed homework and have been good citizens all week. I limit the use of playing games on our system. This year I have four students who came up with the idea to write a school newsletter. They use Scribus, an excellent Open Source desktop publishing resource that interacts well with Open Office and Gimp. By the way all, all this software comes with Edubuntu an Open Source operating system base on Ubuntu Linux.

2. What obstacles they needed to overcome to obtain permission to do such a project?
It is important that you have all your facts down. Know the learning benefits for kids and how you will integrate it into your daily teaching. What is the use of having technology if you are not willing to use it or don't have any idea how you are going to use it, or even when to use it? Think of all the things that your administrator might say that might deny you permission for your project. Think of solutions. At my school we do not have a budget for technology. I told my principal that it will not cost our school anything and that we can collect recycled computers from our district and make them run like new, better than the computers in our lab. This was just before summer vacation. She told me that it was okay as long as it was good for our students. We are in the barrio over here and manny students do not have access to technology. Anyway, It took about four months to research Linux based operating systems based on terminal server technology; I chose Edubuntu; write a donation letter, pick up my donations, buy my server, and put together a lab. The cost of my lab was less than $1000. I purchased a server because I couldn't wait for a donation. However, I was able to find 32 computers. I can only use 14. I built labs in other classrooms. 8-) My lab was up and running and my principal finally came to see what I was up to. She only looked at one side of my classroom with four computers and said, "How nice!" I told her to look at the other side which had 10 more computers and she said, "Oh my goodness!" She was impressed and told me that it was rare that such a large goal is ever pursued and carried through. Then she asked, "How can I help?" The rest is a slow growing movement using Linux in our classrooms. We now have four classrooms using Linux.
3. What advice they would give to a teacher seeking to replicate their efforts.
1. You don't have to be a technology guru. I had a background knowledge in Microsoft Office, Adobe Illustrator, Finale Music, and basic picture processing software.
2. Know your room and school infrastructure. Is your school and classroom built to handle technology? How many LAN drops are in your classroom? How many plug outlets does your classroom have? I have an outlet for every computer and three LAN drops.
3. Have a good relationship with your principal. Get your principal on your side and show all the positive benefits of what you are trying to do and back it up with references from all around the world.
4. Research and have fun. You will become empowered and self reliant. Set small goals. Here were my goals:
a. Research and experiment with Linux. I used the Linux Bible and various online resources. (2 months)
b. Use what you have and get two computers connected. Then, begin adding more computers. (same 2 months)
c. Write a donation letter.
d. Look for responses. Look for people or schools trying to get rid of their tube monitors. Chances are that they will have old CPU's as well
e. Put your lab together at home. Then, take it to school. (Altogether, 4 months)
f. Oh! Probably the most important thing, you would think this would be common sense, but know how you will use this lab in your classroom, when you will use it, and be able to justify how your technology will enhance student learning based on the standards of your state. Be prepared to defend yourself. At my school, no one can claim favoritism towards my classroom because I have created all of this on my own. I share my time, knowledge, and resources freely in the spirit of our world wide Open Source community.
g. Build a website to tie all your resources together. I use Weebly.com

I hope this helps your efforts in your research. If you have anymore questions let me know.

Joel Garcia
Thanks for your help. This is a lot of information and will be a great help
Great advice to beginning tech users! Thanks for sharing your experience and expertise.
Kathleen Sand

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