WOW … what a ride! This “roller-coaster” learning experience took my breath away! However, like most roller-coasters, I initially paid for the ride, and got a few instructions on basic safety and what to expect. Together with a number of “strangers”, I got buckled in and started slowly traveling up a somewhat steep learning curve as I moved from Internet Explorer to learning the fundamentals of Firefox and then the rudiments of creating my own Edublog. As my colleagues and I slowly teetered at the top, there was a sudden silence as we had a brief opportunity to quickly scan the upcoming terrain and prepare for the anticipated twists and turns that we were about to navigate as part of the remaining “things”. With a piercing shriek and our “hearts in our throats”, we accelerated downward through RSS feeds as our brains were bombarded by the sensory overload of information appearing in our Google Reader. The centrifugal force generated by the first hairpin curve pressed down on my stomach as I absorbed the G-forces associated with learning to use a wiki. While I screamed at the top of my lungs and fought to control of my gag reflex, I thankfully got a brief break. However, I barely caught my breath before my eyes “Flickr-ed” as they became inundated with a kaleidoscope of photos shared with a Creative Commons license. Just when I thought I might gain some control, we were flipped into an inverted spin where we investigated the wealth of educational resources provided by the K12 Online Conference and reflected on why we had agreed to take this professional development “ride”. Suddenly, we approached another curve and our enthusiastic colleagues collaborated by holding their hands in the air as they experienced the “rush” of social bookmarking and tagging. The speed of the course seemed to increase each second as we absorbed the bumps along the way and shouted out excitedly through podcasts as gravity pulled us back to ground level. Before we knew it, the ride had come to an end. We climbed out of our seats, with legs shaking, and looked forward to sharing our experiences with our friends who, unfortunately, lacked the risk-taking attribute that we have demonstrated. Will they believe us? Can they see our enthusiasm? Of course, we can convince them because the “strangers”, who joined us on this roller-coaster ride, are now “friends” and perhaps some have uploaded their photos and shared their experiences through digital stories through YouTube or VoiceThread. Furthermore, we can always go back and re-live the “things” by examining the reflections and insights that have been shared in our blogging diaries. As we exit the roller-coaster, and walk down the ramp with our “new found friends”, we compare our adventure ride and share comments about the plunges, curves, and flips that we thought were most exhilarating and will never forget.
Perhaps, back home, we might invite some of our colleagues to join our personal learning network where we can help them see the benefits of engaging students through the use of web 2.0 applications. If dialoging about our experiences gained on this ride doesn’t convince them, I feel confident that demonstrating the educational tools that we have mastered will whet their enthusiasm.
The final question that all riders have to ask? Was the ride worth it? For me, … it is a resounding “YES”!
Although my last blog entry appears to be an analogy, I believe that this roller-coaster ride not only impacts the teacher-riders but more importantly has the potential to influence all their students and many other teachers with whom they come in contact.
Where do I go from here? As a life-long-learner, I have found this ride extremely stimulating and I eagerly look forward to creating a new blog to share my experiences with my colleagues in Manitoba.
Take care & keep smiling 🙂
Credits: “Coaster” by Joe Rollerfan: