Irish Teachers' Attitude to Web 2.0

I recently surveyed 100 teachers – I wanted more but I think there’s a limit on Survey Monkey‘s basic package – about their views on Internet applications.  I wanted to check what web 2.0 applications they used and which ones they trusted.  I wanted to see if my suspicions – that Irish primary teachers were scared to post their opinions on a public forum – were true.  Effectively, they were less true than I thought.

I decided to ask teachers what they felt comfortable using the Internet for, asking whether they felt safe using certain applications and generally getting a feel for how Web 2.0 has entered their lives.
There were few surprises with certain areas – 100% felt safe booking a flight online and 98% would buy a book online.
More interestingly was the numbers who used applications where there was real potential for being identified – such as forums, blogs and social networking.  The following were the percentages of people who claimed to post on these services:

  • Fora (Forums) – 86.9%
  • Online Polls – 66.7%
  • Blogs – 20.2%
  • Social Networks – 65.7%

As a big fan of blogs, I was disappointed, but not surprised, by the low percentage.  There seems, at least in the education sector in Ireland, a small cohort that have succeeded in scaremongering the idea of a blog.  Every time  I give a course or a talk about blogs, I am asked about how secure they are.  I find this question odd as they are no less secure than any other web application or site.  In fact, I have heard on discussion fora several times that a teacher decided to “put up ‘an ordinary’ web site rather than a blog” as (s)he feared for the safety of the school.  When I gently push them on this, the user always replies that (s)he was advised by a local “advisor” (not always the now-defunct ICT advisors) that blogs are dangerous!
Because I suspected that survey users would not trust blogs, the second part of my questionnaire asked about trust in various Web 2.0 apps.  Unsurprisingly, for me, was that online stores (70.9%) and discussion fora (54.1%) were most trusted while blogs and social networks were least trusted: 62.4% and 78.5% not trusted respectively. (Online Polls scored 50% vs 50%)
Although it appears that blogs are growing in Irish education sectors – in the last 4 months, 3 winners of the Scoilnet Star Sites have been blogs and a second level English blog won two awards at the international edublog awards – there is still little trust in them from the average computer-using teacher.
I’m not sure what will convince Irish teachers that blogging is as secure as Discussion Fora or even booking a flight.  Blogging is a phenomenon that’s here to stay and it would be super to see a few more Irish teachers embracing it.  It’s simple and great fun once you get into it.  I have 4 blogs including – although two haven’t been updated for a long time.  The real fun is the kick you get when people start commenting on your posts or even adding their own posts.  So, come on Ireland – let’s get blogging!

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