One of the things that surprises a lot of people I talk to is that there are not a lot of computer science teachers using Web 2.0. By that I mean not many are blogging, Twittering, using RSS readers to follow blogs, participating in online discussion forums or much else except for searching the Internet or the occasional mailing list. Oh there are many computer science teachers on the AP CS mailing list but my perception is that is just about it for online activity. Why? Well yesterday I asked my Twitter followers the question of why more teachers don’t use Twitter. Some answers were:
Time shows up over and over again. So does lack of perceived value. My feeling is that teachers, like everyone else, has limited time in the day. So activities have to be prioritized. There are many teachers who find blogging and Twitter to be very valuable. Personally I don’t know how I’d keep current without them. But many teachers are already running as fast as they can to keep up. The investment in time and energy to learn something new and start engaging in it in a useful manner has to be clearly justifiable. Justifiable enough to let something else go by the boards. Now often a short term set back can pay off in the long term but that can be a hard sell as things are hard to predict. (Especially about the future. 🙂 )
Interestingly enough I see raw beginners and very experienced teachers using these tools. Or not. For a young person there seem to be more hours in the days. Often no children to take care of for example. And less need for sleep perhaps. Plus a new person’s excitement with the technology. For more experienced teachers perhaps they are current enough and practiced enough that they can spend more of their time learning new things because they already are getting by.
Those who don’t use these new tools are, in my opinion, missing out but I can’t bring it upon myself to be too critical. Often they have children and other commitments that really deserve high priority. Or perhaps they are at a stage in their career where some sort of “just the facts” – the basics and foundational things – are what they need to prioritize. Others just need someone to help them jump start into things. With the right training and examples they could take advantage of these tools.
But you know, I fear there are some people who just can’t be bothered. For them the same old same old is all they want to do.
Where should teachers start? Personally I recommend reading blogs using some sort of RSS reader. RSS Bandit perhaps – that is what I use. Outlook has a built in ability to do that. Wikipedia lists lots of them though. Find one that you like and follow some blogs. Follow mine. 🙂 Follow some of the ones I link to on my sidebar or from various posts. Do a search for blogs by topics that interest you. One doesn’t have to start in by writing a blog. Read some. Leave comments on some. Maybe give Twitter a chance at some point. Later find some online forums and browse them for a while. Ease into things.
Look for blogs by teachers in other subjects BTW to see how they are using tools like wikis, blogs, and more to enhance the learning of their students. Start now in the summer when things are, perhaps, a little slower. If you need a list to start with I like this one – Educational Blogs You Should Be Investigating