Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Web 2.0: A Personal Learning Renaissance

Yesterday, on the Classroom 2.0 social network, Elizabeth Davis posted:

"Following and reading blogs, participating in ning, contributing to wikis, writing in my blog, I haven't thought this much in years. It truly is an amazing phenomenon. I feel so intellectually alive. I'm inspired and challenged constantly. The blogs I read lead me to question and explore new tools and Websites. I haven't written this much since I was in school. It is all so exciting and energizing. For me, classroom 2.0 could just be about my own growth and learning and that would be enough."

"Teacher K" then commented:

I agree! I am reading and thinking and writing far more now than I have in years. All of this content is helping me to do new things in my classroom, and helping me to see new possibilities for my colleagues as well."

I would echo by saying that Web 2.0 has meant a personal learning renaissance for me as well. Starting to blog kindled in me something that led me to be an active learner again, something that had been missing from my life for some number of years in the midst of other good things: raising kids, serving in my church, and working. Now I am feeling engaged in learning again. Will Richardson captured this, I think, when he said: "I've learned more in my four-plus years as a blogger than I have in all my years of formal education."

I think it is our new personal learning experiences with Web 2.0 that are driving many of us to look for ways to bring this feeling of engagement into the school and the classroom. It's not the tools, necessarily, but the level of engagement we want to share. This is also why I sense a growing consensus among the educational bloggers that the best way to bring change to the classroom is to help the teachers feel it themselves. As Elizabeth says in the same post:

"I hope I can help my colleagues to see the potential I see and feel the buzz that I feel. This is the first step to bringing it to the kids. I think teachers have to feel it for themselves first. I hope I can bring that to them. I think, with the help of this community, I probably can!"


  1. You mention, "It's not the tools, necessarily, but the level of engagement we want to share." I can't agree more. But I also want to add to this. It is my theory, (and I am trying to disprove it to see where the wholes are), that stellar learning comes from two basic and essential ingredients: engagement and individualism.

    You have pointed out that this technology can engage the learner to a higher extent than before. I also believe that another reason they are getting so much out of socialization and collaboration is because it is possible to individualize the information they receive to be completely relevant.

    Before they had information given to them. Now they can pull only the information they want and customize it to fit them. Immediately the engagement goes up a notch.

    It is not the tools, but what the tools make possible that was not there before. It is now and it is a fabulous to watch!

  2. "Before they had information given to them. Now they can pull only the information they want and customize it to fit them."

    This is why I think it is so important that educators become familiar with what is taking place on the web--because these students will need help in learning what information to pull, how to evaluate it, and then how to synthesize it into their own personal learning plan.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. Anonymous8:17 AM

    You articulated this so much better than I attempted to - I've been talking about blogging as professional development, personal learning - but I love your term Personal Learning Renaissance and couldn't agree more.

    I'm prepping a presentation for extension professionals next week on Web2.0 - trying to put it into a ten step program. I'm definitely adding this post to my links. Thank you

  4. Anonymous12:42 PM

    Steve--you're right on with this. I think that it's the quality of engagement that excites me and the opportunity to interact with what I'm learning on so many different levels that has turned me into an evangelist for Web 2.0. The only thing I worry about sometimes is that in our ability to connect with like-minded people through these tools, will we lose something in the process? It takes an effort to really seek out people who DON'T agree with you and question what you can learn from them.

    Anyway--great post and thanks for sharing.


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