I’m in the Tampa airport (free wireless!) catching up on some reading after spending the day with about 100 tech coordinators from Pinellas County schools talking about investing in the stock market…er…I mean blogs, wikis, RSS and all that other fun stuff. And it was a great day overall (with the exception of one sobering moment that I’ll get to in a bit) that was filled with really thoughtful questions and conversation and a surprise visit from Clayton Wilcox the blogging superintendent. (That’s him in the picture…click it to see a larger version.) Here are a couple quick observations:

  • There is no doubt that more and more people know what blogs and wikis and podcasts are, though I think they still don’t fully see the potential for the classroom. (BTW, only about 10 knew what RSS was.) This is a time issue more than anything else, because once they do see what teachers are doing, the light bulbs start popping. At the end of the day, they were coming up with some truly inspired ideas for implementation.
  • From a blogging standpoint, non-bloggers don’t get the idea that blogging starts with reading. And it’s becoming more apparent to me that once they do get that, it reframes their whole perception of blogs, puts them in a more powerful light. You don’t need to read to journal. You do to blog. (I know, I know…been there, done that…and the irony of this journaly entry isn’t lost, btw.)
  • The biggest shift in thinking has to come at the 40,000 foot level, and that is that there is nothing stopping us (well, almost) from asking our students to do meaningful work for wider audiences. These tools obliterate classroom walls, and we need to seriously reframe the way we look at our assignments and projects and products.The sobering moment? Well, this is difficult, because I in no way want this to come across as a slight to the people in the room who were seriously among the most engaged and articulate audiences I’ve presented to. But it was a moment that crystallizes the work that we have to do regarding the Web in general.

    As we were discussing the concept of readers as editors, I showed them the white supremicist created Martin Luther King site . Well, actually, I showed a picture of it since it was being blocked at the time, and after pointing out the obvious racist tenor of the site, I asked how many could go and find out who owned that domain, who created and updated it.

    There was a deafening silence.

    Not. One. Person.

    Mercy.