Ginger and I talked this morning (actually are still chatting through instant messaging) about the changes in school supplies for a Web 2.0 classroom. Thinking about the list brings up some interesting points. How do you set up your classroom to be a Web 2.0 classroom?
Do children need all that notebook paper, notebooks, markers, crayons, pencils? Can we cut back? If writing is primarily done online, paper is moving towards obsoleteness. Is it now too archaic to use? I think not quite yet. I am not ready to give up paper and pens. I don't think the parents are ready yet either. Maybe one or two more years.
So we eliminate some paper. Save a few trees in the process. What else do children need. Certainly, they need access to computers at home. This is the biggest challenge I face with parents. Some say they don't want their child using the computer during the week. My job, then, is to help parents understand the difference between playing games online and doing work online. The tricky part is when the work looks a lot like the play. Chatting with friends, creating artwork, collaborating in wikis, writing blogs...can all appear to be playing. Other parents say they have a computer, sitting in a box in the corner, or broken on the desk. Then my job is get them to understand that having access to a computer is vital for their child's education. It's time to pull it out of the box, repair it, get it going.
The students will also need a flashdrive. Much of their work is still offline but on the computer. So they need to be able to move work back and forth. E-mail isn't always reliable for this task. This one is easy to handle. Parents don't usually complain when the children ask for a $10 flashdrive.
E-mail is the last barrier for my students. The idea that they need an e-mail account of their own excites the students and terrifies the parents. I think this year, I'm going to try gmail. I will set up the accounts, send home e-mail information, and get it working in school. That might solve some problems.
My biggest concern is the parents who don't want their children working online at all. Some parents are so fearful of predators that, instead of teaching safety protocols or trusting me to do it, they don't allow online access at all, not at home or in school. This might be an obstacle too large to overcome. I hope not. I would hate for one student to be left out of so much. Hopefully, I can make parents see the importance of using technology. And the year will go smoothly.