No doubt there is agreement with Richardson’s statement, "In order for us to prepare our students for what is without a question a future filled with networked learning spaces, we must first experience those environments for ourselves. We must become connected and engaged in learning in these new ways if we are to fully understand the pedagogies of using these tools with students..." (Richardson, p. x). Certainly there has been a Web explosion and transformations of its use in most all walks of life, but as Richardson points out (p.3), education has been slow to adapt to its full potential. Educators have experienced the dilemma discussed (p.3) in which students have been more computer literate than themselves. We have been out of touch with the way our students learn outside of school (p.8). This has fortunately begun to change, however, with increased emphasis on technology integration within our districts, and teacher accountabilities in place to ensure it. We are currently witnessing educators who are using Web environments for themselves, and becoming connected and engaged. In recent years, since this book was published in 2010, there has been enormous investment in equipment, infrastructure and teacher training. We have seen the transformation from wires to wireless, from desktops to laptops, and now to iPads and interactive white boards in many of our classrooms. Fortunately many educators have begun to address the challenge to become knowledgeable and experienced Web users. Many are now at a place that matches the computer literacy of their students, and in fact have begun pulling ahead of them, introducing new Web tools and other technologies into instruction. Powerful web tools, such as the ones shared in this book, are being integrated into instruction and are beginning to revolutionize our classrooms.
Web tools have changed and will continue to change my personal professional practice. For example, I now have separate Edmodo sites set up for each of my classes that students regularly access for assignments, links and files. Students are blogging with and with one another about topics related to our curriculum on Edmodo. They are posting projects and sharing feedback with one another, completing surveys on Edmodo and Survey Monkey. Audacity is used for podcasting, and they have created videos on Animoto and iMovie and published them to YouTube. I hold on-line study sessions on Edmodo, and students are using Quizlet to learn vocabulary. It is important that I continue learning best practices in the use of Web tools, and learn additional tools to stay ahead of the learning curve, and prepared to lead my students in their use. I strongly believe that my students must be engaged digital learners, having frequent and seamless technology use in order to adequately be prepared for the 21st century and beyond. With that said, I am looking forward to learning additional tools and in this course such as Wikis, Really Simple Syndication (RSS) and Aggregators.
The one roadblock, which is beginning to change as well, is access to the hardware and wireless connectivity issues. Computer labs, while there are multiple now in our buildings, are often booked, and rolling laptop carts are in high demand. As iPads are issued on a one-to-one basis, this issue goes away, but the wireless infrastructure must be upgraded to accommodate this increased usage. While these issues remain, that upgrade has begun in our district, and the future does look promising.
Finally, with this increased Web usage, comes the need to keep our students, as well as teachers, safe on the Web, as Richardson points out (pp.11-16) . We must be mindful of the risks involved, and diligent in enforcing policies to protect the users. Digital citizenship and security must be taught routinely and contracts initiated that require student and parent signatures.