Wednesday, September 26, 2007

teachers caught in the act

DATELINE: Harrisburg, PA
Early Monday evening at the Harrisubrg Hilton, 200 teachers engaged in off-task behavior during a multi-media presentation by internationally recognized tech-ed guru, David Warlick.

At the beginning of the presentation, Mr. Warlick invited the Classrooms for the Future Coaches to engage in a real-time discussion using a tool called AjaxChat. From the beginning, the dialog was mired in innocuous and trivial matters that strayed far from the presentation topic. By the end of the hour long presentation, over 1000 messages had been posted.

After analyzing the entries, Mr. Warlick reported early Tuesday morning that only 300 posts pertained to the topic while an astounding 700+ posts were meaningless to the purpose of the gathering.

Mr. Warlick noted that one person was responsible for over 200 of the 1000 posts and not one of those entries had any relevance to education, technology, or integration.

So 200 teachers in Pennsylvania were reprimanded for not using the AjaxChat in an educationally appropriate manner. In truth, I added to the off-task behavior, but this is not surprising for anyone that knows me. In elementary school, I more often than not watched from inside my classroom as my peers enjoyed recess.

But here's my problem with last night, as interesting, informative, and thought-provoking as David Warlick's presentation was: it missed the front-loading of appropriate on-line behavior that is CRUCIAL for students, regardless of age.

I am not trying to excuse the posts, but I will state that the AjaxChatter afforded all of us the much-needed opportunity to reflect on how we will integrate a new tool for learning.

I have had CFF teachers want to use a wiki. They believe it will be a great tool. They sign-up, set-up, and invite their students in with Enthusiasm2.0. And a day later, I receive an email that says the following:

"I am upset that a student posted a picture that is inappropriate. What else can a student do on this space that I won't like?"

My answer: A lot!

But then I tell teachers that they missed an important step. In their desire to use new tools for learning, they over-looked the same activity that accompanies their first day of class: rules, procedures, and expectations.

However, we are accountable for those students. We are responsible for teachers that implement without laying down the foundation for ethical and social responsibility in a web2.0 environment.

And we sure need to take a long look in the mirror, for we are the Coaches and the models, but as Mr. Warlick forgot, teachers sure are bad students.


Darcy said...

I also added to the malaise on the ajaxchat. Hopefully David Warlick will use the fact that many of us were off-task to adjust his presentation accordingly. Since so many were off-task, this isn't just a few "bad eggs," but perhaps a trend? Although they said that it didn't happen quite that way for the first bootcamp, so hrmmmm....

Chris said...

You hit the nail on the head, Ken. I watched from afar as some people acted completely irresponsibly... then the following day I listened to the goofing off in the back of a faculty meeting and thought the same thing: Expectations are best set UP FRONT. Appropriate modeling of technology is CRUCIAL, as you said.

And I think that is the first time I've heard the phrase "Enthusiasm 2.0" :-)

David said...

You are certainly correct, kenrodoff, in noting that it was a minority of educators who abused the opportunity for underground conversation. Actually, it was only three who were the chronic abusers, but, others contributed, simply out of the atmosphere that the three (one in particular) created.

There were moments of brilliance in that conversation, but they eventually were drowned out by the few who took it as their opportunity to shine a light on themselves.

What truly impressed me were those who resourcefully left the AjaxChat and created their own subterranean conversations using Skype.

I did say, up front, that I was looking for questions, answers, comments, agreements, disagreements, a parallel conversation. Saying much more than that would have too firmly framed an opportunity for us all, which I wanted to have a life of its own, to find its own value.

The shame of it was that three people obscured that value, because some people look for ways to holler. The thing is, that such people may be well suited to be good technology coaches. It could happen.

Thanks for your contributions to this conversation.