I first posted a version of this about 18 months ago, but in light of recent conversations regarding how to really integrate these technologies into a teacher’s regular school day, I thought I’d post a somewhat updated version to see if it might contribute anything new. I’ll have more to say shortly on how I think this becomes a reality, but I will say that I think this vision is still fairly far into the future and that for it to come to fruition, I think the changes are going to have to happen from the ground up rather than being imposed or required. (See a typical reaction.) You can lead a horse…
More on that later…
English teacher Tom McHale sets down his cup of coffee and boots up the computer at his classroom desk. It’s 6:50 a.m., and he’s got about 45 minutes before his sleepy Journalism students will begin filing into his classroom.
He logs in and opens up his personal Weblog on the school intranet. There, he does a quick scan of the New York Times headlines that are displayed on his homepage and clicks on one of the links to read a story about war reporting that he thinks his student journalists might be interested in. With a quick click, Tom uses the “Post to Scuttle” button on his toolbar, adds a bit of annotation to the form that comes up, and adds it to his journalism tagset at the ScuttleEDU intall on his school server. With this one step, he archives the page for future reference and automatically sends the link and his note to display on his journalism class portal for students to read when they log in.
Next, he clicks the link to open his Bloglines aggregator and he scans a compiled list of summaries that link to all the work his students submitted to their Weblogs the night before. Seeing one particularly well done response, he clicks through to the student’s personal site and leaves a positive comment about her submission. (He notices that a couple of his students have already left some positive feedback to the author as well.) He also “Scuttles” that site, adding it to his “Best Practices” tagset which will send it to the class homepage as well for students to read and discuss, and to a separate Weblog page he has created to keep track of all of the best examples of student work. It’s 7:00.
After taking a sip of his coffee, Tom takes a look at his research RSS feeds in Bloglines. He’s been asked to keep abreast of the latest news about technology and teaching writing, and this morning he sees his Google search feed has turned up a new version of “Write Outloud.” He clicks the link, reads about the new version on the site, and then clicks on a different “Post to Scuttle” button that uses an account set up for all of his department colleagues to share. When the form comes up, he writes a couple of lines of description about how it might benefit the department, and then tags it “Technology” which automatically archives it to the tech page of the English Department Weblog. Later that day, all the members of his department will see his link as well as any others his colleagues may have added as a part of their daily e-mail update from Scuttle. He also decides he wants to create another search feed for the words “journalism” and “weblogs.” With a click on the toolbar, a dialog box appears and he enters his terms, then clicks on the Feedster.com radio button (one among four choices.) He hits ok, and a new feed headline box is added to his portal.
At around 7:05, Tom uses his personal Weblog to upload an assignment on symbolism for his major American literature class. When he opens up the document online to check it, he adds that to a different Scuttle tagset under his English login and it gets sent to a separate Web page set up on the English site for American Literature Best Practices. The rest of the American Lit teachers will get an automatic e-mail later in the day notifying them of his published artifact that they can use in their own classes. Then, he creates a post for his Lit class portal that has a link to the assignment, and he publishes the post to the class homepage. Automatically, parents who have requested it get an e-mail that their son or daughter has homework to do that evening. E-mails also get sent to a couple of counselors who are tracking at risk students.
About 7:15 Tom decides to scan the latest school news feed which aggregates all the new posts from the school Weblogs he is subscribed to. He sees that the basketball team won the county tournament, the new edition of the school paper is online, and that the superintendent has posted important information about an upcoming safety drill. He clicks through to read the entire post, and then leaves a comment suggesting a way to alleviate crowding in the hallways during the drill. (He sees a parent also has a suggestion about the timing.) Back at his page, he decides that he doesn’t want to scan the soccer team news any longer, so he goes to his subscription page and unchecks the feed. He does notice, however, the “New Feeds” section lists a new “Tech Deals” feed that the tech supervisor has created. Since he’s looking for a new home computer, he clicks to subscribe to it.
At 25 after, he checks his audio library and sees that the MP3 interview that two of his students did with the principal has been downloaded to his player. He lifts it out of his cradle and puts it in his briefcase so he can play it on his car stereo during his ride home after school. If it’s good, he’ll upload it to the school podcast page where the 135-odd subscribers (mostly parents) will automatically receive it so they can hear it and hopefully get most of their questions about the new building project answered.
With just a few minutes left before his first class, Tom opens the personal journal part of his portal and types in a few notes about an idea he had for the lit project his students are completing next week. He files them into the “Literature” sub folder so that he can pull up relevant notes all at once if he needs to. Now that his volume of e-mail has been drastically reduced, he scans the few messages in his in box, takes a last gulp of coffee, and opens his classroom door to the sound of happy students.