I have led about a zillion professional development sessions, both formal and informal, throughout the years. I always arrive with high hopes to engage teachers in the latest and greatest web 2.0 technologies and spur never before seen projects. I am always striving to push the envelope.
It’s great to have high hopes but the reality is a lot of teachers are fearful of using technology that they view as overly complicated. Not to mention they are completely stressed out by standardized testing. This makes sense considering the huge workloads and pressures that teachers work under.
I also find it counterproductive to introduce a group of nervous teachers to my “Top 10 Web 2.0 Sites” or “20 Cool Sites for School”. In my experience, they might indeed think a list of sites is cool but they rarely implement them in the curriculum.
What’s my sure fire site with a huge implementation rate? Create a digital book!
Several excellent web 2.0 digital book creators are available and most work great. Try Picaboo (my favorite), Mixbook, Blurb, My Publisher, and more. Sure, these sites are hoping you will create a digital book and then order the bound, printed version. But, you don’t have to order the book. Let your students get creative, add images and tell a story, then just view it online.
Why is this project successful to introduce teachers to technology integration?
First, it’s easy to understand the concept…it’s a digital book. Everyone gets that notion and can immediately see potential. “Instead of making our annual poetry book on construction paper, we’ll make it on Picaboo.”
Second, many classes already produce presentations of some sort, usually PowerPoint. Teachers can easily picture a digital book as a replacement presentation tool. “Instead of doing our President of the United States presentation in PowerPoint, we’ll use Mixbook!”
Third, teachers can picture using the site in their outside-of-school lives. When I work with teachers using a web 2.0 digital book, they quickly jump to ideas how they can use it to create their own family albums. After a training session, I often get emails with links to digital books from teachers showing their kids’ birthdays and other family events.
Lastly, on this type of web 2.0 site, the user interface is easy and intuitive. Teachers are creating books with very little training. This ease of use gives everyone confidence.
A bonus is how these books work on an interactive whiteboard. The way the pages turn is a big hit. It actually appears you are turning the page.
Introduce your teachers to web 2.0 digital books and I guarantee you will quickly have a high implementation rate. Easy to understand, easy to create and easy to share. After I started using this as my introduction point, teachers have been more receptive to other, more advanced Web 2.0 sites
Let me know how it goes! Please post a comment below and share your ideas. Thanks for reading the educational technology blog Teach Amazing!