Well–sort of…I mean how cool is it that we–the collective “we” that contributes to the Web 2.0 are considered Time magazine’s “People of the Year”! We’ve been talking about the power of social web tools, and it seems that Time agrees. I loved this quote from the article:
Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I’m not going to watch Lost tonight. I’m going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I’m going to mash up 50 Cent’s vocals with Queen’s instrumentals? I’m going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?
The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME’s Person of the Year for 2006 is you.
…the tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web. Not the Web that Tim Berners-Lee hacked together (15 years ago, according to Wikipedia) as a way for scientists to share research. It’s not even the overhyped dotcom Web of the late 1990s. The new Web is a very different thing. It’s a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter. Silicon Valley consultants call it Web 2.0, as if it were a new version of some old software. But it’s really a revolution.
Are you a revolutionary? I suspect that if you are reading this, you are. Or at least you’re on the fringe–thinking of joining. But I think the more important question is are you using the “new Web” to engage your students? Are you using these tools to capture their interest and teach them skills that not only help them learn content, but prepare them for the global economy they’re already a part of?
Now, don’t get me wrong–using these tools is not easy, nor are they always guaranteed to work. The article points out that Web 2.0 is a big social experiment. I think that’s right. Teaching is an experiment; heck, life is an experiment–we try things–sometimes they work–sometimes they don’t. However, it seems that schools are often reluctant to try something unless it’s backed by years of brain research and endorsed by hordes of scientists, educators, and school districts that have excellent achievement test scores. Does that mean we’ll have the same successes? Not necessarily, but we invest in them anyway, hoping that this next great thing will be the “magic bullet” that will solve all our student success problems. As educators, I think we should be able to explore and try out new tools and strategies. That means school districts should provide a climate of protection so that educators can try out these exciting tools. There are so many things that impact our students’ lives today, we should be constantly on the lookout for how we can utilize what’s out there to help our students learn more and at deeper levels. That’s our challenge–how are we going to revolutionize teaching and learning? How will I? How will you?