Information Access and Empowerment
I’ve been a middle school technology coordinator for the last thirteen years. That means that I’ve seen amazing progress in the area of technology, education and communication. When I started in this position, my students didn’t “Google,” many of our families didn’t have Internet access or even computers at home, and those of us who had cell phones certainly didn’t use them to make dinner reservations, take photos or check Twitter to see what was going on all over the world.
I’m astounded at how that has changed. In the intervening years, I’ve taught my students to create videos and podcasts, I’ve networked with educators all over the world, and I’ve even used digital technology to go on a scavenger hunt while traveling in Vienna. These are the things that excite me about Web 2.0: that we are going from being web consumers to web content producers, and that we can do it with people from our own communities or from communities all over the world.
How empowering these tools are! Using the new web and increasingly available (can I even say ubiquitous, in some cases?) digital tools, we can document our lives and immediately share it with anyone who want to know. Whether it’s an “aha” moment in the classroom, an atrocity that must be uncovered, or simply a photograph of a beautiful sunset, we have tools that make it possible for us to open our lives – and our minds – to one another. The message is clear: nobody has to live in isolation any more.
As an early Web 2.0 adopter (and certainly not of the “digital native” generation!), I have already seen how empowering these tools are. I cannot believe how my professional network has grown over the years; how easily I can connect with colleagues all over the world and how much more aware I am of global issues. What astounding gifts we’ve been given: immediate access to information is and the ability to inexpensively contribute to the growing body of knowledge in the world. I feel blessed every day to be living in this world and to be able to teach my students how to navigate through it.