Credo: My Collective Intelligence
Blog: Teacher 2.0
Personal Web Page: Nooccar: Or how an East Coast family raises a small daughter in the SouthWest
Social Bookmarks: delicious.com/nooccar
Personal: Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University in 1997 in English Literature, Master’s Degree in English Education from Duquesne University, teaching certificate in Pennsylvania (expired) and Arizona (current), father of a three year old daughter, Claire.
How has your learning, your intelligence, your life been changed, improved, and/or affected by the social web, social networking, Web 2.0 (or whatever you want to call it)?
I remember playing these goofy little black & white games on my Texas Instrument computer plugged into a black & white television in my bedroom sometime around 1984-1985. My cousins would play role playing games on their Commodore 64 for hours, and then I jump ahead to junior year of high school. My father got new computers for his office, so I got his old one. Wow! It was an 8086, and I became a whiz at writing commands in DOS, which I continued to do for a couple years. That year I remember writing my research paper on that little computer in my basement; I also remember dialing into a local BBS to which I belonged for a couple years. (I hated when my dad picked up the phone!) My parent’s house then burnt down and I got insurance money. I bought an NEC P-100 for $4,000 in 1994! That computer lasted a couple years through undergrad and I learned how to upgrade PCs, build them from scratch, etc…
I maintained my memberships on BBSes, which really intrigued me due to the relationships on and off line. I wrote a college paper on this, because when the “real world” crashed into the virtual, then BBS community crashed (e.g. several people met there and then began dating, then broke up and dated each other. Odd situations.)
Throughout undergrad, it was mostly research & email (Eudora for DOS & PINE!). When I hit grad school in 1999 I bought a Toshiba laptop with student loans (the wife still has a Toshiba laptop today and we’ve been through 3), and I continued to use technology for research (basic) and writing (Office only) and of course email (now in Windows!).
I’ll admit I didn’t know anything about Web 2.0 until about a year ago. Before that technology was still a ONE WAY street for me (mostly). I took, took, took and didn’t really give. I would get information, download my email to my computer (yes download email… how 20th ct!), etc… I made a gmail account when it was intriguing because NO ONE could get one about 4 years ago, but I never used it. Then last year my computer crashed, and I couldn’t find my CD for Office. I was complaining at work, and my friend Shelley told me that I was an idiot using pop mail and Microsoft, and why not I try Open Office, gmail, or even Google docs. Two things really happened at the same time: 1) Shelley and I began a friendship that’s developed through interests both personally and professionally, and 2) I moved online.
In a conversation several months ago what Web 2.0 meant to me began to form in my head. This is a set of tools that keep everything online, so it’s truly mobile. People don’t even need to own computers anymore, but they should have at least a flash drive to maintain their personal settings (like for FireFox 2).
Now Web 2.0 is a concept where we as users no longer take from the web with information going unidirectional, but we, the users, now give back and build the Web itself. This is not like a decade ago where we coded simple webpages with Mosaic browswers and blinking rainbow HR bars. Anyone can now synthesize everyone else’s expertise, intelligence, thoughts, and comments. Web 2.0 has almost became a place (can we call it that?) where we’ve almost become a single collective intelligence (wait! That’s the name of this! hmm…). But let me continue here to a few more concepts.
Th concept of tagging rocks, and I love how this has moved beyond iTunes (where many of us first use tags). I tag everything now, and I walk around the corporeal world just wishing I could tag everything! My wife complains when I tag our photos in several different ways instead of trying to limit them. Web 2.0 is a bast spiderweb of tags where every little piece of information can be recategorized at a keystroke an infinite number of ways. But every time a user labels some bit of information, we’re not only organizing our worlds but we’re also teaching the machines. Every time we tag something, or find a new way to use Web 2.0 tools, or mash these tools together, we’re creating new tools, new intelligences, and new ????. I don’t mean we’re about to go out and build Cyberdyne Systems, but we are teaching the machine through our ways in which we interact with it (is it an it?) and the ways in which we interact through
Teacher 2.0 & 21st Century Students
Last year at work (I mean my full time job teaching high school AP Language & Composition here) our admin had us watch a video based on some philosophies best outlined in Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat about the globalization of the world, and how American students are far behind Asian students. And it discussed how technology would help the USA move forward and try to keep up, but the video really failed to say HOW. I asked my admin who clearly had no idea, and since then I’ve been searching on ways to do this.
Part of this pursuit was by educating my students in web 2.0 tools and I use Google Apps as the foundation for this. In the high school I have 180 students who I require to use Gmail, Google docs, Google calendar, and Google groups (most almost use Google talk and some use Blogger). My colleague and I understood the tools Google has brought together, and we thought this was a solid foundation on which these students could begin to build themselves into a term I embraced readily: 21st century student. I don’t know where I heard this or if it’s even coined, but a 21st century student is the sort who has ALWAYS been online. The students who don’t know what it’s like to write papers on typewriters or by hand. The students who have never heard of card catalogs and have never owned Walkmans. If they want information they Google it (forget sites like dogpile.com or hotbot.com), and they typically have gadgets in every pocket. Information is and always has been at their fingertips. They know they will have multiple careers when they graduate, and many speak multiple languages. They are always online, but the sorts I come across aren’t the flat food coders who are pasty white when I went to high school (you know the kids who never went outside). Our generation now is of multi-taskers who know how to do things faster and more efficient than we will ever know.
I began a blog a few years ago so I could complain about the world around me, and I kept it anonymous. It still is. Then my wife and I got into reading Heather Armstrong’s blog a couple years ago and we talked about her family like they lived down the street. Heather and her husband John are professional bloggers, and that was cool. Someone who sat around online all day and got paid! We loved it and began our own blog. Here we’d talk about our family, our daughter, our dog, and what it was like living in the Southwest when everyone to whom we were related were on the east coast. My wife quickly faded and rarely writes, but I still update it. This was our move from Blogger (pre Google blogger) to Typepad.
As I mentioned earlier I use to code HTML and read webpages on Mosaic, and I always maintained some websites, but 3-4 years ago I wanted a professional site that I could update whenever. Where I could keep my class information, and so I made DCAMD, which is Devon Christopher Adams Marie Donna. My mother through that was silly since it looked like I thought I was a medical doctor (i.e. MD), but the URL stuck. I would spit out information through this site to my kids, and as I began that relationship last year with Shelley, I knew the website had to be redone. I was talk to anyone who listened about Web 2.0 & 21st century students but my own website sucked. It was a place where I sometimes updated information, and it needed to be more Web 2.0. Even though it was scary at the time, I knew the main focus had to be a blog and I figured I would limit it to discussions of 1) English, 2) Teaching, 3) Technology. I did research, talked to people, and I decided a WordPress blog would work best. There were limitations with both Blogger & Typepad that I didn’t like, so I relaunched www.dcamd.com recently and I try to post a few times a week. I don’t get thousands of hits, but I do get some comments, especially since I added Twitter to tools I use daily where I can announce posts.
I titled my new blog Teacher 2.0 because this is what I am. I give back to the online community daily not only through my own musing, but also through my use of Web 2.0 tools I find online and by engaging my 180 AP students (yearly), my 40 Am Lit students, and now my 30 English 102 students. I had been teaching English 101 and 102 in traditional classrooms, and I was really just keeping my head above water. Shelley sat me down and told me I was making too much work for myself. She showed me a new English 102 curriculum plan she was developing and asked if I wanted to try it. I grabbed at it, and I’ve been teaching it through Google Apps (and WebCT and an open source course management system called Sakai) for a couple semesters now. Recently I wrote a grant to create a new multimodal English 101 course that will be piloted in Fall 2008, which moves away from the traditional ideas of “composition” and moves everything into Web 2.0 for the 21st century student.
The future of all of this for me is found in a conversation I had with a gentleman who spent a day doing a presentation on cool new gadgets (most of which I already knew, so I spent my day thinking of how much money I could make doing his job!) who when I mentioned I felt like crawling into my computer, said “wait until the computers crawl into you”. In a loose interpretation of Donna Harraway’s Cyborg Theory, I feel like I am moving toward a time when the world’s information will be at my fingertips to be accessible instantaneously, streamlined in a way in which I can receive anything and give everything simultaneously where the corporeal and virtual are indecipherably linked.