January 4, 2011 by readlisaread
Way back, not too long after the Internet was born, I found myself stumbling about in the wilds of World Wide Web. Having no idea at that time what amazing information–and what potential–was out there. As the laws of attraction dictate, I soon found myself at a Teaching related site. Besides lesson plans and craft ideas and subject-related chat boards, there were also a couple of real time chat rooms. It was in one of these chatrooms that I really began to realize the potential of the Internet. I was able to chat to other teachers all over the world, about an amazing range of topics. Although it was mostly teachers who visited the site, there were others who just showed up to shoot the breeze with teachers (no accounting for taste). There was one regular who came into the chat room quite often whose nickname was “IceFlyer”. As his handle suggests, he was a pilot who flew supplies into remote and icy places, like the arctic, the antarctic, Greenland and even more obscure places. At the time I was in contact with him, he had 5 children, and, for whatever reason, enjoyed talking to teachers. He was generous, too, in that he would happily mail postcards to teachers and their classes from his exotic frozen stops.
One time IceFlyer and I talked about a project I was doing with my grade 6’s and one thing led to another, until it was decided that we would set up a chat in one of the rooms between IceFlyer and my class. Well, in the end it wasn’t a problem-free as I had hoped (a power flick knocked me off line for a while, and then the student machines wouldn’t load the chatroom) but eventually, the kids were able to ask Ice questions that I typed, and he gave them an hour of his time reading and responding.
It never occurred to me at the time to be worried about accessing a chatroom with the kids, nor any of the other Things We Feared about the Internet. I just wanted to give the kids a neat experience, and a random stranger (who turned out to be exactly who he said he was, not a psycho-killer-rapist-stalker) helped me do that. That was, and still is, the “heart” of the Internet. I share resources with teachers all the time, and invariably someone will say “I can’t believe people just put this stuff out there for FREE” and I shake my head, and redouble my efforts to educate my colleagues on learning communities.
How far have we come? Well, my reminiscences of IceFlyer were prompted by this clever little presentation: I need my teachers to Learn 2.2, created with the collaboration of a bunch of teachers, credit to Kevin Honeycutt (kevin honeycutt) for the organization and uploading. I found the site through a post on Twitter, retweeted by sue levine and retweeted by many The video is a collaborative effort, a compilation that speaks loudly to the frustrations our learners have trying to navigate school their way–plugged in, digitized, 2.0. It also speaks to a lot of us educators who have resorted to guerrilla tactics to try to meet these kids part way.
IceFlyer, if you are out there, I’m still fighting the battle– thanks for your encouragement way back at the beginning.