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Amazing to think how many of the students in the class described below remain in touch today a decade later. Fun to see the directions their lives have gone — and how internet learning tools have changed.

From September 01, 2008

It’s amusing and edifying to revisit the last “Curious David” blog I wrote for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (JSOnline) before they discontinued (terminated) their educational community bloggers.

Pioneering Web 2.0 Learning Tools
By David Simpson
Monday, Sep 1 2008, 09:32 AM

I’m nervous and excited. Time to take off my invisibility cloak. Tomorrow (Tuesday, September 2, 2008 at 8:00 a.m.) I meet in person for the first time with my 20 first-year students. What an immense responsibility to be their first professor! We’re going to explore 21rst century learning tools such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networks, virtual worlds, and Youtube. The idea for this course emerged from my experiences writing this Curious David blog column. Last year’s opportunity to write for JSonline was transformative for me as I learned from elementary and secondary school teachers, high school students, virtual school advocates, retired faculty and readers about innovations, challenges and successes they faced promoting learning.

In this first-year seminar we shall focus on some of the 25 free learning tools described by educator Jane Hart. As we examine these learning tools we hope to answer questions such as these:
1. To what degree can these web tools truly enhance student learning?

2. To what degree are they just cool tools?

3. Could they be used to develop critical thinking?

4. Do they improve or degrade communication skills?

5. Might they be applied to fostering cross-cultural or international understanding?

6. Might they strengthen or weaken writing skills?

7. What are their weaknesses or dangers? Should they complement or replace 20th     century learning skills/tools?

8. How can one evaluate their effectiveness?

We shall read two books—Little Brother, a work of fiction (maybe it is fiction) and a work of nonfiction Dispatches from Blogistan. My intent is to assist students in the transition from high school to college—and to investigate Web 2.0 learning tools which might be useful across classes and in the workplace. I want to involve them in educational experiences that will develop and enhance abilities in reading, writing, reflecting, presenting, thinking, and producing. Writing exercises will include papers, journals, blogs/wikis, and exams. Presentations will be both formal and
informal; individual and in small groups. Collaboration will be both with fellow students and with me. I welcome reader feedback about this course. I’d gladly share a course syllabus in .pdf format which has many hypertext links. (Indeed, I’d welcome reassurance that I still have readers after a two month hiatus!).

Still Curious,

Tomorrow’s final exam may give me some insight into what the students have learned. Interestingly, I received an email today from someone in Great Britain interested in the course. It is my intent to begin (renew) serious writing in a blog format starting in January. I’ll most likely use Type Pad.

I’ve learned so much—and have so much to learn.