Ewan McIntosh reports in his latest post, “Scotland Has Been Blogging for 5 Million Years,” that Scotland is leading the pack in terms of the number of educators using Web 2.0 applications. He states that “its education system is arguably using proportionally more social bookmarking, online video sharing, image sharing, wikis, feed readers and blogs than any other country in the world.” McIntosh outlines in great detail Scotland’s position as the harbinger of education to the world. Coupling this history with the country’s own cultural mythology and innovative spirit, he makes a solid case for why, as a general rule, Scotland’s educational community has largely embraced social networking and the use of Web 2.0 technology while many other countries are still waging grass roots campaigns for its acceptance. I have come to enjoy Ewan’s blog very much, and I value his perspective on pretty much all things Web 2.0. I know I’m the only one in my school right now pushing Web 2.0. So it would seem, that in my little neck of the woods (ok, orange groves) his take on Scotland leading the Web 2.0 revolution may just be spot on.
Many of us here in the States, and some of you abroad, have been involved lately in extensive conversations on the issue of educators being slow to hear about much less adopt online social networking technologies. When I first heard about Moodle, I quickly learned of the wonderful progress Australia and New Zealand were making with it in their educational efforts. Moreover, I learned that students in these regions were truly being encouraged to actively participate in taking ownership of their own education! My first impression was that once again, the US educational system was being outclassed. Further discovery and conversations with area experts painted a slightly brighter picture, as I learned that there are numerous US educators using Moodle, Drupal, blogs, wikis, podcasting to enhance the learner experience. But are we doing enough?
David Warlick’s July 26th article detailing his findings regarding first year teachers and their familiarity with Web 2.0 technology painted a picture that seemed less optimistic than it was in all actuality. After stating that only two in attendance were bloggers, RSS was a mystery, and virtually no one knew what a wiki was, he followed up by saying that:
“It’s not a bad thing that these beginning teachers hadn’t heard of Web 2.0. They’re certainly doing it. Most of them IM, and have MySpace or Facebook (etc.) sites. They communicate online with individuals and groups, and they’ve used these conversations to teach and learn, though they probably haven’t thought of it that way.”
This leaves me with a feeling of hope. But hey, I’m a pretty optimistic guy! I guess I just believe that one by one, as the collaborative online learning and networking mechanism powers up in more and more classrooms, we’ll keep heading in the right direction – towards all things Web 2.0 settling into the realm of tried and true versus novel and experimental. Like many of the educators I have come to call friends and colleagues over the past couple of months, I will be starting and maintaining a consistent grass roots effort on my school campus. If I can encourage five teachers at Boone Middle School in Haines City, Florida to reach out to the world via even one community authored blog and a shared wiki (heck, throw in a podcast .. who knows!?), then that’ll be my little success story for the year. For if they in turn do the same, I think we might find ourselves making progress after all.