Sunday, June 10, 2007

The 1.0 ball and chain

Everybody, no matter what their job, has some extra difficulty, some additional weight to carry, cross to bear, etc. I mention this one here because it pertains to teachers adopting (or not) web 2.0 technologies.

Here is that ball and chain: school web sites, class web pages, district specific tools for creating 1.0 static web sites. Most teachers or tech leaders are currently using Dreamweaver, FrontPage, or similar to update those web sites. Those same people are the ones who should naturally be the ones jumping into web 2.0 stuff with both feet, because they have a lot of technical skills. Unfortunately, they are too overwhelmed maintaining the status quo, often as volunteer web masters, to find the time to experiment and create using new forms like blogs, wikis, podcasts, and so on. Anybody who does want to branch out must commit to maintaining web 1.0 and 2.0 sites. One does not easily replace the other. It would be nice, but it does not work that way...

My personal ball and chain:
  • Young Author's Conference, 2007The Ball: my school website. Because it's one of the oldest around and relatively well known, there are a lot of reasons for hanging on to it. It has a certain amount of celebrity, in part thanks to the unauthorized use of an image of its home page in a well-known best seller. Thirteen years at the same URL is not something I'm about to throw away overnight. Yesterday I updated one of the thousands of pages on the site with this year's Young Author's Conference. A tedious three hours - and I'm fast at this, but gosh.... choosing the right pictures, being sure kids in the pictures have permission from their parents to appear, creating thumbnails, resizing and renaming pictures, uploading it all via ftp (ouch). Now I'm pleased with it, proud of my school, happy there is another record of the event, but man.... I should have been blogging on my classroom blog and editing podcasts...

  • Earth Day Groceries, 2007The Chain: The Earth Day Groceries Project. Now I dearly love this project and have spent even more time on it over the years than the school web site, but man, what a time-eater. The text info is fed into multiple databases, so I'm not html coding individual reports anymore, but still.... biggest year ever, in terms of folks sending in pictures to document their participation. I finally caught up yesterday, creating a total for 2007 of 142 picture pages - each with multiple pictures. To top it off I created a page with lots of pictures for my school - since we started it and I'm in charge, we get whatever we want - ha. Two hours+ on a page that normally would take me 10 minutes (see above for some of the tedium). I should have been working on our classroom wiki, or getting a presentation proposal in to k12 Online...

After all this, I think the message I want to leave is that the tech leaders people would assume might be leading the web 2.0 charge are stuck. There are plenty of tech savvy teachers and tech leaders out there everywhere, but they cannot break free from the ball and chain of

  1. the obligation to follow a school district's guidelines and vision in "web design"
  2. morphing 1.0 sites into 2.0 environments, not an easy task, and there is no manual...

Many of the tech leaders and teachers with web skills (and obligations) wanting to venture out into new web media creation must be willing to work in both the 1.0 and the 2.0 worlds right now. For a while, anyway. Twice the work, in the same amount of time, and for the same pay (volunteer school webmasters roll their eyes).

It will happen, but it will be a slow process, where education will follow business, as usual. I wish for once we educators could lead... I am certain my school's web page will be replaced with our school wiki within 2 years. How do I know? I'll do it.

Now the Earth Day Groceries Project, I just don't know. I set up a project blog a coupla years ago, but that's clearly not the answer for a total transition to web 2.0. Any ideas? TIA...

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 2:18 PM   5 Comments


At June 10, 2007 , Anonymous Dean Shareski said...


Certainly understandable issues. I can thankfully say the I have not helped one person in our division use Dreamweaver or Frontpage this year. Any requests I had to develop webpages, I've either pointed them to blogs or in some cases in simply use or wikis to house their links or content.

We are shifting old school websites to using Joomla and they are all quite pleased. Part of the move to Joomla was to insure that at least 3 people from the school be involved and many now have entire staffs contributing.

We have just begun to use Moodle as well for classes that wish.

This is not to brag...well maybe a bit but to continue to encourage providing alternatives. There are a few diehards who continue to use traditional sites but as I'm sure you are aware, they are few and far between. Way to much work.

Continued good luck in pursuit of change.

At June 11, 2007 , Anonymous Jude said...

Half of the tedium of making websites went away for me once I started linking to Flickr photographs. I upload photos to Flickr, choose the size I want, insert the html in my website, and happily cut a huge chunk of time off website creation. I was just hired for a position at my old high school, and the principal told me that he is learning Dreamweaver so he can put together a website. I, on the other hand, am learning as much as I can about open source alternatives this summer so I can propose something different when I start in August.

At June 11, 2007 , Anonymous Dean Shareski said...

I'd strongly suggest using some type of CMS, i.e. Joomla, Drupal..whatever. Unless you'd use something like Contribute, Dreamweaver spells single user and little community contribution. Part of using something other than Dreamweaver is to build community.

At June 11, 2007 , Blogger Brian said...

Mark - great post. I know your district blocks much - do they block wikis? A lot of what you describe could be done on a wiki and their free - oops I just found your class wiki page. Can you use it from school?
Just a thought.

At June 11, 2007 , Blogger Mark Ahlness said...

Dean, brag on! You guys and gals up north continue to show the way for those who are truly interested in moving on in education and technology.

Flickr, wikis, and community, hmmm...... yes, those are great tools and values to embrace. Wish I could speak more freely.

Thanks for all the ideas - Mark


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