Seems that I am being challenged on many fronts around my thinking about technology tools lately. And I don't mean challenged in any sort of a bad way - but rather, a way that makes me think a great deal about why I have personally embraced these tools and the value that I see in them for our students.
Let me preface this post by saying that I am in no way an authority on the use of these tools. For the past year and a half, I have dabbled with them in the course of my own work, integrating them into what I do and attempting to model them for teachers. There are tools I use on a regular basis (wikis, blogs, Google Groups and Reader, del.icio.us), tools I need to learn more about (Google Earth, podcasting, NING) and tools I just don't get (Twitter!!) That being said - I am game to try just about anything thrown my way that I think could have an application to my practice.
Why should someone use these tools when there is so much other work to do? What makes reading blogs compelling when faced with hundreds of emails every day? I am not sure I have the answers that will fit all the challenges here. But what I do know is that I no longer receive the local newspaper at home because I have created my own version of a newspaper online. Through my RSS aggregator (I use Bloglines) - I subscribe to the blogs and news venues that I want to read. I read ones that I have an affinity for, as well as ones that challenge my thinking. I get to pick and choose what comes in my "paper" - I can't do that in the hard copy version. And the best part is that using del.icio.us and the new found tools of Google Reader, I can tag them for future use or share them with my friends and colleagues. Remember those news clippings that hung out on refrigerators? Now they are all stored in my computer and they won't get yellow!
How do you have time to "read" them all? Reading is changing with online tools - no one does "deep" reading anymore. Honestly - I don't read all my feeds completely. I scan to see what grabs my attention or what will fit into my current work. If it gives me pause - I open up the article and read it deeply, sometimes annotating it with Diigo for future use. If I might use it again - I tag it and add to del.icio.us or send it along to a friend. Has it changed how I read? Maybe - but I still read the hard copy versions that pile up on my nightstand and Borders will not be de-activating my card for inactivity any time soon. But I am willing to bet that I read more than I ever have in the past. Maybe not as deeply - but certainly an expanded amount.
So help me out: Why do you read or not read? What compels you to check your RSS feed? Why should someone use these tools?