Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summer Assignment for Teachers

Here's a list of 5 things you can do over the summer to prepare your paperless classroom for the new school year.

1. Start a blog. It doesn't matter who you are or what you do. You have something to say. So say it. Say more of it everyday. A blog is the hub around which a paperless classroom rotates. The more comfortable you are at blogging and reading blogs, the more comfortable you will be teaching in a paperless classroom.

2. Start a Diigo account. I've been following the Diigo-ing and Diigo-speak of many folks and finally decided to take the plunge myself. I plan on spending all summer learning everything I can about how to use social bookmarking. And in the fall, I am going to make it a mandatory practice for students in my classes.

3. Tweet, Tweet, Tweet. Forget what everybody has told you about Twitter. Forget everything you've read about it. Hype is hype is hype. Just sign up, follow some ed techies, and enter a new world. It will prove to be a Professional Development experience unlike any other. You will kick yourself for not having signed up earlier.

4. Follow the debates concerning traditional media and social media. As regular readers know, this is something which has very much been on my mind lately. My current thinking is this: the #IranElection feed changed everything. It didn't 'replace' mainstream media, rather it forced a critical eye onto the inherent problems within it. And -- most importantly -- in a way that took popular imagination by storm. Are professional journalists necessary? Absolutely. But are the top-down corporate organizations which provide them with jobs singularly necessary? That's the question that's up in the air. That's a question they are asking in Seattle. And in Boston. And in Chicago. And in Baltimore. What's the future of media? Well, I think the type of synergy we've seen in the last eight days between professional savvy and amateur ingenuity marks the way forward. Because the best thing that that synergy can create is a more engaged citizenry; and the more engaged the citizenry, the higher the quality of the output of social media. We have the opportunity here to organize and educate a more sophisticated and engaged society.

5. Prepare your talking points. There are two major obstacles to starting any paperless movement: blocking and access. The events of the last days, as well as the plethora of examples of Twitter in the classroom that have been popping up across the blogosphere, should aid in bolstering your arguments against the former. As for the latter, it is our duty as educators and citizens to advocate for free universal Wi-Fi and universal mobile hardware in all of our schools and public libraries. Movements in major cities such as Philadelphia and Minneapolis have demonstrated that universal Wi-Fi does not have to be a dream. The dropping of the prices of Netbooks and Smart Phones below the cost of textbooks has mooted the cost argument; now it's just a matter of the allocation of resources and the educating of teachers in how to best use this stuff.

Have a fun, safe, and productive summer. There's plenty to learn between now and the new school year.


  1. #2 Diigo? What's the difference between that and Delicious? I've been using the later for a while. Is Diigo a education version of Delicious. Don't really think I want to switch everything unless there is a strong reason.

    Just curious.

  2. Diigo allows you to highlight and add sticky notes to the web. If you're worried about losing your Delicious network, you can also link your Diigo account with Delicious, so that when you bookmark a page on Diigo, it is also bookmarked on your Delicious account.


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