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Join The Web Tools Collective

Eric Brunsell

Asst Professor of Science Education @ UW-Oshkosh

"Don't limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time."
-- Tagore, Bengali poet

About 20 years ago, I received my first email account. It was awesome -- not many college students had one. Of course, I quickly realized that I only knew five friends with email and I lived with four of them.

Today, almost every teenager in our schools has the opportunity to access email, but many choose not to. It is much easier to send a message via texting or through Facebook. In fact, a growing number of my college students only use email to correspond with "old people."

Over the past 20 years, advances in our technological landscape have fundamentally changed the way that we access and interact with information and with each other. YouTube just turned six in May. Today, 48 hours of video gets uploaded to YouTube every minute -- twice as much as was uploaded at this time last year. Every minute, nearly 35,000 videos are viewed. Facebook is seven years old and has twice as many active user accounts as the population of the United States.

The participatory nature of the web has made it possible to redefine the culture of learning for our students and for ourselves. And professionally, we can participate in collectives to actively engage in professional learning and we can create similar experiences for our students.

The Web Tools Collective

As part of Edutopia's summer professional development experiences, we are starting a Web Tools Collective to explore and learn with other teachers from around the world. We plan to "study" a variety of web tools and resources, and identify ways that they can be used in the classroom. The Web Tools Collective is a flexible, open-learning experience. We will provide a learning space (Edutopia blogs and groups) and a loose structure for exploration. You are welcome to jump in and out as your schedule and interest allows. You can post daily, weekly, just once or twice, or you can even just lurk.

In their book, A New Culture of Learning, Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown describe a collective as:

. . . a collection of people, skills, and talent that produces a result greater than the sum of its parts. For our purposes, collectives are not solely defined by shared intention, action, or purpose (though these elements may exist and often do). Rather, they are defined by an active engagement with the process of learning. . . . In the new culture of learning, collectives, as we define them, become the medium in which participation takes shape.

The Web Tools Collective Series Schedule

  • Getting Started
  • Collecting: Web tools and resources for collecting and assessing information.
  • Creating: Web tools for expressing, sharing, and celebrating ideas.
  • Connecting: Web tools for breaking down the classroom walls.
  • The Networked Student

    What does a "collective" look like in the classroom? Perhaps this. . .

    Get Started

    In the comments below, let me know what you think about The Networked Student.

    • What can we do to move in that direction?
    • What obstacles do we face? And, most importantly, what questions do you have?
    • What do YOU want to get out of the Web Tools Collective?

    Eric Brunsell will be teaching a course called, "Current Trends in Curriculum and Instruction: Learning in a Connected World" at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh this summer. The course will be taught entirely online and will feature Edutopia -- and our community -- as a resource.

Comments (28)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

bonnie's picture

What can we do to move in that direction?
Many teachers still require a "how to" manual...step by step instructions on how to create an RSS feeder, locate and create a bookmarking account, locate and create a blog or wiki and then manage one, etc.
I think if this type of simple instruction sheets could be developed and shared with more teachers, then they would feel more comfy "turn-key training" their own students to do the same(any many of the students do need to be taught this, no matter how savvy). Then the fear of those potential stumbling blocks are conquered and the true roles of the connectivist teacher can begin...

dgburris's picture
High School Math Teacher and Instructional Coach

I am relatively new to Edutopia, so, are the above-mentioned sessions online chats? webinars? physical gatherings?

Eric Brunsell's picture
Eric Brunsell
Asst Professor of Science Education @ UW-Oshkosh

@dgburris - Edutopia is really pushing the envelope for what professional development can (and should) be. Teachers are professionals - sure, in some cases "training" is needed and useful. However, professional development should be much more individualized and collaborative. There is not one set model that the "Edutopia Summer Professional Development Series" will follow. This one (Web Tools Collective) will take place asynchronously - so, likely no webinars or real-time chats...unless the participants want that to happen! Instead, I will provide a structure with starting points for exploration and discussion every 2 weeks. Participants can take things in whatever direction makes sense for them as professionals - explore, add new, etc. and, most importantly, share their learning publicly via comments in the blog or through the Edutopia Group. Although the exploration is self-directed, the richness of the experience really depends on participant sharing and interaction. I have a feeling for what it "could" look like, but what it will look like is driven by participants!

[quote]I am relatively new to Edutopia, so, are the above-mentioned sessions online chats? webinars? physical gatherings?[/quote]

Rita Sorrentino's picture
Rita Sorrentino
K-5 Computer Teacher in Philadelphia

What we need is preciously this type of learning and sharing to be prepared for our students who expect to participate in networked environments. I often get so overwhelmed by the many Web 2.0 tools and would like to become better at organizing resources and making connections for my own personal learning network.

MaryAnn Powell's picture
MaryAnn Powell
Instructional Technology Facilitator from Tarboro, NC

Forgive me for being so literal, but where might one "join" this collective? Just watch here?

gwennebrask's picture
9th & 10th grade Language Arts teacher, Denver, CO

It would be very helpful to have an RSS feed for this Collective... Is that possible?

Eric Brunsell's picture
Eric Brunsell
Asst Professor of Science Education @ UW-Oshkosh

[quote]Forgive me for being so literal, but where might one "join" this collective? Just watch here?[/quote]

MaryAnn, If you do not want credit, you do not need formally join. Participation will take place via the comments on the blog & in an Edutopia "group." More information will be provided next week.

Ann Rodgers's picture
Ann Rodgers
High School English

I want to be able to have a space (my own connectivity site) to develop over time all the useful information I want to share. I never know from year to year what level I will teach so I want to be able to access it all and move it around to suit my students needs - and then - I want my students to develop their own portfolios of information that also includes their own writing (blogs) activism, etc. So hopefully the summer sessions will help me to do that. I have knowledge but not much experience.

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