Before I jump into writing about what I would professionally like to do and actually what I have professionally done using Diigo, let me just say simply, “Teachers don’t have time for this.” That sounds horrible. That sounds like a teacher who has taught too long and is too tired for something new. A teaching curmudgeon. An educational dinosaur. A learning dust mote.
I am anything but those. What I mean is that while this is exactly what teachers SHOULD have the time to do, it is the last thing teachers ACTUALLY have time to do. But the public and politicians, from whom most educators and educational institutions get their funding, don’t understand that instruction today requires time–and a lot of it–to research, discover, vet, plan, structure, collaborate, coordinate, and implement.
Let’s take Diigo.
If I decide that as a 21st Century literacy educator, I need to bring the Read/Write Web front and center in my classroom in order to prepare my students for the future that they will work and lead in, I need to have time to take some steps:
- First, time to investigate the best and most classroom friendly and appropriate sites for social bookmarking. Let’s say, I discover Diigo.
- Discussion and planning with the tech coach and tech district coordinator to get permission to use in my classroom with my students. This permission could involve needing to make a purchase through the district or on the building level of a Diigo subscription. It might include investigation into the safety and privacy of the site for student use and sharing.
- Once vetted through the tech department, I need to figure out how to get the students signed up safely and appropriately. If we have a district subscription, that may not be a huge deal. If we use the free/public forum, that may be trickier. Along with signing up the students, I need to take time as a teacher to prepare a letter (at minimum) to parents about the site that I will be using and help them to be able, if they choose, to view and monitor their child’s work and actions.
- Once I am certain about the appropriateness and safety, and I have students signed up with parental permission, I need to sit with the program and really play with it to be able quickly and efficiently help the students to use it quickly and efficiently in my classroom.
- Based on my “play time” learning, I need to create sets of lesson plans:
- Lesson plan to teach students how to log in and set up.
- Lesson plan to teach students what Diigo is, why to use it, and how to use it. Even if part of my lesson plan requires the students to do investigative learning, I still need to structure that for successful learning outcomes.
- Lesson plan to introduce how and why we will use Diigo in our literacy classroom.
- Finally, lesson plans for using it in our classroom and content/skill development for literacy. The lessons focusing on what we are learning that Diigo is a tool to support the learning of.
- Then, I need to figure out, how I will monitor and perhaps even evaluate the student’s use of Diigo.
This is time consuming and it is but one tool from the Internet. One tool that perhaps next year won’t be available anymore and the search will begin again. OR one tool that may be out-dated requiring the search to begin again. Or one tool for ONE UNIT of the year. This IS the work teachers need time to do, but that is not valued, or even recognized, and therefore is not given.
Professional Development and Diigo
So I would love to successfully have a group on Diigo that shares articles, annotations, and discussions about literacy and technology. I feel that it is my duty as a literacy teacher to develop my student’s ability to be literate online. That’s the future. It’s actually today.
But I’ve done that before with Diigo actually. And teachers are excited about the group and thrilled to get started. And everyone makes a great first contribution, but only a few people actually comment or discuss other people’s contributions. And fewer people share a second contribution. Fewer still make a comment on any second contribution. And then you look back after a month because you didn’t have time and were feeling guilty that you haven’t contributed only to discover that you ARE ACTUALLY the first person to to check the group in the past month. And it dies.
The structure of education today does not support the time for classroom preparation and planning; it certainly doesn’t support collegial collaboration time such as this would require. So I would love to have a group on literacy and technology. I will try again with dedicated and motivated and excited teachers. But the key ingredient that I need to figure out is the one that is hardest to find: time.