"[I]f I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week…The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature." --Charles Darwin

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The jury is still out

Web 2.0 is definitely exciting for a teacher, if for no other reason that it is exciting to our students; one can't help suspect that somewhere in this welter of interactivity, there are powerful tools for learning lurking.

But first, back to my former life. Back in 1999, I was working at CNBC. I was at the center of the investor universe, hearing about all the latest business trends before anyone knew they were trends. In those days we were at the height of the Internet Bubble. Every day new companies were making buckets of money by launching new IPOs based on business plans glittering with buzzwords about this new business frontier. Everyone was convinced that because this was new and exciting, it had to be the opportunity to make money.

And, of course, a year later we saw the beginning of the end. IPOs began to sputter out. Start-ups ran through their initial capitalization without ever producing a product. Investor money dried up and by early 2001 it was virtually all over.

But the internet is still here, everyone recognizes its value and some people have made money in it. But it took time. And it took relentless experimentation and a tolerance for error, and the opportunity to go down blind alleys, double back and try again. No one's giving up, but we all realize that exciting doesn't mean obvious or easy.

To me, at the moment, Twitter feels like Internet 1999. Wikis, blogs, Skype, Ning, all of these have clear applications in the classroom, and it will just take some time to develop curriculum-specific adaptations. But honestly, whereas I see that Twitter may be useful for administrators and educational leaders to communicate with each other across distances, I do not see it as a powerful communicative or collaborative medium in the language arts. I may just be a geezer lacking insight. But the economic-technological barriers (for example, we cannot guarantee all of our students have ready access) and the 140-character limit diminishes the immediate possibilities, IMHO (to employ a tired Web 1.0 idiom).

For all the postings I have seen about Twitter in education, I have yet to be directed to a complete, classroom ready lesson plan in high school language arts employing Twitter. I'm not saying it can't be done; it's just that I haven't seen it yet myself. Sorry :(

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