Good Afternoon!

I will be working with a group of educators tomorrow. We will be talking about Web 2.0 tools, in general - what are they good for . . . . I want to show them ONE way that Classroom 2.0 can work for them by letting them see the richness of social networking with other educators.

So, here's a topic. . . How would you define 21st Century Skills? Why do you think they are important - for both educators and students? How does Web 2.0 fit in? Or - do you have something else you'd like to share?

Thanks for your time!
Lee Anne Morris

Tags: 21stCenturySkills, Web2.0

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As always, excellent points, Pam! Just out of curiosity, if you had to pick one tool that has kept you up to date or had most provided you with the ability to communicate, what would it be? Folks often ask what one thing should they learn to do. It is different for everyone for a variety of reasons - for example, what one might be primarily trying to communicate.

Just curious!
Lee Anne
Web 2.0 tools are great. I love Voice Tread.
It is quick and eas to do something with your students.
Here our JrK students are cheering for their favorite team the University of Memhis Tigers!
Gail From TN
Gail, thank you for sharing. There is nothing I love more than REAL examples. I am also a huge fan of VoiceThread. The possiblities are just endless. This is one of those tools that can be "cool" for students and teacher from K-College.

Lee Anne
If I had to pick one underlying skill critical to 21st century literacy, it would be "learning to learn." Pam's right that the environment is constantly changing, so learning, unlearning, and relearning will continue to be necessary to succeed. Much of the change is due to the fast pace of technological innovation; you need to learn all the time to keep up with the new tools available. But the change is also in society at large. Culture is becoming less passive; we don't have to sit there and rely just on what the experts tell us is true, whether that's in news, politics, or education. We can go find out for ourselves, and we can write and learn and network and participate.

Participation and two-way communication is another big shift. The world isn't broadcast from a few sources anymore; we can all be co-creators with Web 2.0 tools. The recent report Writing in the 21st Century is great at showing that participation and how it changes how we should be teaching writing. In it, Kathleen Yancey argues that participating in writing is a shift in power and control in our culture.

"Writing has never been accorded the cultural respect or the support that reading has enjoyed, in part because through reading, society could control its citizens, whereas through writing, citizens might exercise their own control."

With this increased participation, we also have to deal with a huge increase in the amount of information available. We have to be able to filter through the vast resources to find what we need. Fortunately, Web 2.0 tools make that easier too. The first thing I did when I saw this question was check out my bookmarks tagged 21stcenturyskills on Diigo. I've read lots of great articles and blog posts on this topic in the past two years, but I'd never remember where I found them if I didn't have my bookmarks. I can't keep it all in my head, so I have to use the technology to help me. Social bookmarking gives me a way to keep track of resources; my blog gives me a record of things I've learned and is effectively a reflective learning journal from the past two years.

Social bookmarking and my blog are part of how I "learn how to learn" more effectively, bringing us right back to the beginning. Diigo and Wordpress are two of my big tools, but it's such an individual choice. You have to try out tools to figure out what's easiest for you to use for organizing your thoughts or your resources or asking for help. Everyone can participate, but we don't all have to participate the same way or with the same tools.
Hi Christy!

Man, you never fail to make important contributions to any discussion. Can I have just a little part of your brain? :-D

I also feel that social bookmarking has completely changed the way I learn. Reading blogs has had more impact on me than writing blogs - but I think that may be an available time issue. I would like to do more writing! There is something about creating and sharing a new (personal) thought from the ideas of others to really helps me "get it."

What immediatly caught my eye in your comments is your observation that our culture is becoming less passive. So right! We just don't have the luxury of being passive members of society any more. Not only must we gather our own information, but we are obligated to contribute to a the great pool of information. This sounds like SO much work! But, Web 2.0 tools are absolutely the tools to make that possible.

Thanks so much!
Lee Anne
Reading blogs all the time is how I can manage to say something halfway intelligent in these conversations. :-)

It does sound like a lot of work, and sometimes it is. I've avoided signing up for Twitter because I think it will be unbalancing for me; I'm not sure I want to be "always on" more than I already am. It's not that I can't see how Twitter can be useful for connecting and learning; I see the value. It just doesn't feel like the right thing for me. To use Linda's buffet metaphor, Twitter is like the chocolate pudding. I'm sure somebody really likes it, and sometimes I might want it, but right now I'd rather save room for a big sundae with about 8 toppings on it. (I like beets and all, but chocolate is more fun.)

One of the things I struggle with is how to get people who have been successful in the old systems to see that it's possible for them to be successful in the new world too--but not if they sit passively and wait for everything to come to them. In many ways, I think it's harder for people who were good with the old systems; think of prominent newspapers and how much they are struggling now. I've seen several variations of the axiom that "the biggest obstacle to change is past success." If something worked for you before, it's hard to let go of it and try something new. If you were struggling before, I don't think it's so hard. But if you've done well and been praised for doing things in that old passive Web 1.0 way, then how do you admit that those previous successful strategies might not work so well now? And how do we help coach people who are in the position to get past it?

How are you dealing with that, Lee Anne (and anyone else who wants to chime in)? Or do you not see that same pattern in your work?

I know exactly what you are talking about. I have actually been thinking about just that challenge since my last class. There are so many teachers that are great and who really love what they do, but are also smart enough to see the world texting and twittering right by them and they hate it. They are already successful, so why do they need to change? In class we talked quite a bit about "why" - why is all this web stuff even necessary, why will this be better for the students, why will this make their job easier, etc. Because of the types of classes I teach - tech integration - it seems like we focus so much on point and click skills. All of those details are overwhelming. No one likes to have to do and learn new things constantly because that means we are constantly uncomfortable - never relaxed. As important as change is, sometimes we just need to coast and enjoy.

Okay, so how do you coax people to change? I do not have concrete answers! But I always have an opinion. I think the least painful way is for it to be their idea -- that is also the hardest thing to achieve. Examples. Discussion. Getting them excited about something cool. Finding a way they can use it personally. And then, when all else fails, there is always the undeniable truth. Responsibility. It is just your job. We can't deny as educators that our goal is to prepare our students for success in the world. Even just a timid glimps of the world from a slivered opening in the window curtain proves that that can't happen unless our students have the skills to thrive - and who knows what the world will even look like when they get out there. Yes, the great teachers are still relevant and always will be, they just need to reflect the world we are living in to be the best they can be for their students. It is our responsibility to "be" the world we are preparing our students for. So tell them to buck up and find a way to make it work. :-D

Clearly, from that last paragraph, I don't know either! Just hang in and be patient. You know how they say the meek will inherit the earth? I think instructional designers will.

Lee Anne
Christy, I just thought of the most important motivator for any teacher - learning. A lot of folks get hooked on the thrill of learning - I do! This makes me think of the cautionary commercials back in the 70's (you probably weren't alive!) where the drug dealers hung around elementary and middle school playgrounds giving out the first one free. Get the kids hooked and they'll pay all the money you want later. Get the teachers hooked and they will make all the effort you want later. I think most every teacher out there wants to embrace change and learn "new ways," but it's been a while since someone has hooked them up for free.

What a bizarre analogy. I'm still on my first cup of coffee! :-D
Lee Anne
The world isn't broadcast from a few sources anymore; we can all be co-creators with Web 2.0 tools.

Hi Christy! I realize that one line isn't the point of your post but it made me stop and think. If we all become co-creators of content with Web 2.0 tools where does the edge of learning stop? Or begin? Those who are at the forefront of learning and meaning making, the trail breakers if you will, will no longer exist. And, if they do, that gap between them and the co-creators will be so very narrow as to no to little meaning.

While I doubt this will happen anytime soon, it is something to consider. We do not want learning or exploration to become stagnant because to become stagnant is to die, figuratively in this case.

And truly, are we all really co-creators? While it is a noble idea to push to close that gap, to equalize all learning, if those learning are also the meaning-makers, what becomes of the information? There needs to be something to be said for those at the edge shouting encouragements back to those who are trying to catch up.
I'm not sure how having everyone co-create means that you won't have trail breakers or people at the edge. For that to happen would require innovation in technology and every other field to stop, something I just don't see happening. Having everyone contribute isn't the same as having everyone's contribution be equal. Giving everyone space and opportunity to learn isn't the same as saying that all learning is equal. The metrics for success in a networked world are different and fluid; success doesn't require the corporate backing of a TV station, newspaper or other traditional media source.

"Success" can also mean different things to different people. For me, 500 subscribers on my blog is pretty darn successful, but it's a pittance in the wider scheme of things. I'm still a C-list blogger with those numbers. That's fine; I never set out to change the whole world or to have a million views. But I'm learning a lot by blogging, and I'm positively tickled that 500 other people think what I have to say is worth reading. Even if I had a tenth of that number of subscribers though, I'd consider my blogging to be successful because of what I personally have learned in the process.

As for what becomes of knowledge and information when everyone is connected, I would suggest reading some of Downes' and Siemens' work on connectivism. Downes can be deep and philosophical, as well as obtuse, but this is one model of what happens in this networked world.

"At its heart, connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks."
Christy, how did I miss that you have a blog? I want to be number 501.

Lee Anne
When I was developing BCE, I knew that Will was going to ask me if I was blogging. And it did seem hypocritical to extol the virtues of blogging in the course but not actually at least try it myself. So I started one and was able to show him when he asked. :) I do a lot of linkblogging, with less writing full posts lately.

During the TCC conference I'll do a bunch of liveblogging again like I did last year. By the way, early bird registration for this online conference is still only $69 through next Tuesday 3/31. If you have the time, it's a great conference, and this year's theme of "Collaborative Learning, Social Networking, Technology Tools, and Best Practices" is certainly right up your alley. Plus we're presenting on the Sakai conversion.

Here's my blog: Enjoy!



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