Some extremely interesting stories in today’s Circuits section that I’ll annotate below. (Free registration required to read articles.)
First, an article about the demise of HighWired.com and other such services which allowed teachers “easy” access to web space. Some of the relevant excerpts include:
“The fact is that both educators and companies providing Web site services underestimated how difficult it was to gather, format, present and refresh so that people would keep coming back and find it useful.” One of the best parts about using weblogs is the ease of updating content. I don’t think difficulty is the issue now so much as time.
“…only 55 percent of students who say their school has a Web site have even visited it. The main complaint about the sites is that they do not have useful information.” I think this is a two-fold problem. First, I think most people who maintain websites do not have an understanding of them as information management tools. Second, when only one person can upload content, it’s no wonder there isn’t more relevant stuff.
“One problem, experts who study school technology say, is that many classroom pages are static, with teachers posting a syllabus for the entire year or simply links to interesting Web sites. So visiting the site is not part of a daily routine for students and parents, particularly if only a few of their teachers have classroom pages.” Ease of use issue, again.
“Perhaps the biggest problem is technophobic teachers who are wedded to traditional ways of teaching. When Grunwald Associates asked school-district technology leaders to rate the competency of their teachers in using the Internet for instruction, more than one-third of the teachers in large districts were classified as novices. Only 18 percent were called experts.” This goes back to what Ken said about focusing on teachers who are willing to adopt the technology instead of forcing teachers to do it.
“The training of educators to use the Web as a classroom tool has often been spotty at best…In the process, few companies worried about training teachers in how to set up Web pages or cared whether the teachers followed through.” Classroom support for this is crucial. Using weblogs or any other classroom technology is not going to work without mentoring and support.
“And while some educators promote the Web as a way to break down the communications barrier between school and home, some teachers would prefer that those barriers remain…” Again, time is major issue here. But if we can show how to manage the increased communications between parents and students and teachers, and if we can show the benefit of that…
Here’s another piece whose title says it all: Study Finds That Teachers Fail to Grasp the Web’s Potential. An excerpt:
“Many schools and teachers have not yet recognized — much less responded to — the new ways students communicate and access information over the Internet.” Reminds me of a post by Charlie about the different ways that students write: IM, e-mail, etc.
A really interesting article on Case Western Reserve U’s incredible new high tech facility. If you want to see the future, here it is: A Campus for Collaboration, at a Billion Bits Per Second. An excerpt:
“Aside from the sheer speed it affords, the network is intended to encourage students and professors to confer and collaborate readily, whether they are in the same classroom or in another building, university officials say.” Hmmm…sounds like weblogs to me.