Noble and Greenough – Afternoon Session

by Jean Tower

I attended David Warlick’s afternoon session at the Noble and Greenough conference. The topic was In-Time, Ongoing, Self-Directed Professional Development . David’s presentation included many online tools that he suggested educators could use to create their own professional development. Some of the tools he talked about were: wikis, blogs, twitter, TagGalaxy, MrTwitter, Second Life, flickr, netvibes, and RSS. I appreciated his focus on "mining the conversation" – using the tools of the read write web to find ideas, information, and concepts I can use.

I thought his suggestions were solid and dead on. I was, however, sitting next to a librarian whose contention was that these were inappropriate ways to look for information. Or, at least, the wrong approach.  She suggested that one should first check professionally vetted sites that were indexed and systematized by some authority, and if that failed, then one could resort to Google and then blogs and then maybe twitter. We had an interesting conversation, and a few times she said that these were inappropriate sources for her students. I mentioned a few examples of finding really valuable and timely information using the research avenues that David Warlick had demonstrated to the participants. It took me a minute to realize that we were talking about different uses of these web 2.0 tools. She was concerned with not having students use them, and the session was about professional development – having educators use these tools to build an online professional learning community. This was one of the last conversations I had before I left the conference, and in my car on the way home I wondered:

  • Did many educators in the session think he was talking about students using these?
  • Did they think the tools would be helpful for themselves?
  • Should students use these tools to create their own learning networks?
  • I think so, so my next question is, at what grade/age?

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