Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A nest of yellowjackets...

Once while hunting on the Northern California coast I stepped on a log and disturbed a nest of yellowjackets. Suddenly the air around me was filled with the hum and movement of hundreds of black and yellow flying insects... with STINGERS! I've never run so fast! They were landing all over me trying to sting and some were quite successful! I threw my rifle (which later I later realized could have resulted in injury to me or my hunting partner) and began stripping off clothing with bees attached as I ran. When the danger had passed, the bees had settled, and I was safe again, I was left feeling a little ill from the many stings and rather foolish as my partner pointed out that we had walked right past the nest earlier in the day and he had warned me not to go near it. The bees had been there all along. If I had just recognized the log and walked around it I could have spared myself the agony. But a few lessons were learned and I would forever be a more observant hunter.
It has been many years since that day. I have not stepped on a yellowjacket nest since... until I went to a recent technology training session about 21st Century learning and web 2.0.  As the instructor began revealing tool after tool that were not new, but new to me, I began to hear the hum and feel the stings as I tried to take it all in. Blogging... wikis... social bookmarking... this website and that. Now I love technology, but felt overwhelmed as to where to begin to make sense of all this information. It was after the training that I began to sort it all out. I had spent the summer on Facebook and had a great handle on that, but now I experimented with Twitter and created a title on a wiki page... Doable, I thought. That is until I stepped right squarely on another nest of bees and began exploring the 101 web sites on the handout from the training. Then there were the links from a friend's wiki and the links from another's delicious site. Now I'm once again surrounded by bees. They've come in the form of Animoto, Gliffy, Plinky, and Voxopop, just to name a few. 
I spend a lot of time on the web, but had walked right past all of the new tools for quite some time. Now that I've stirred them up, I'm not sure where to go with it all. As with the bees, the experience has left me with a bit of a headache, but the bees are again settling. I'm realizing that clicking on the links to the sites is a lot like opening Christmas gifts as a child. Right now I'm tearing off the paper and exclaiming how fun each will be to play with as I toss it aside to open another. Soon I will move past the discovery and begin to reflect on how I can put all of this to work to help me motivate and teach my students. I can't wait!

1 comment:

  1. I realized at the end of your post that in your analogy the bees are not a negative. They were simply there all along and you had walked past them many times without noticing. I too was taken by surprise by the evolution of web 2.0 tools on the internet. And, I too considered myself good at, into, and interested in technology. Somehow, the "buzz" around these tools seemed to be more focused on social connections. I hadn't heard anything about how they could support learning or work productivity. So, I dismissed them as something that might be cool and interesting if I had time, but not relevant to what I do. Boy was I wrong.

    I still feel very much a beginner as well, and I too am overwhelmed by the plethora of tools out there. I've learned not to dismiss the tools as instructionally irrelevant until I've had a chance to try them out. I've also learned that some tools whose initial purpose was not aligned with schools in mind are quite instructionally relevant like Twitter. Basically any tool where teachers/students can be connected to one another and collaborate in one fashion or another can be quite instructionally relevant.

    I hope the bees you have stirred up lead you to honey.