“The basic idea of the Web is that an information space through which people can communicate, but communicate in a special way: communicate by sharing their knowledge in a pool.
The idea was not just that it should be a big browsing medium. The idea was that everybody would be putting their ideas in, as well as taking them out.” ~Tim Berners-Lee
In July of 2006, Yahoo! invited a cadre of teachers, media specialists, and librarians to come spend a week on the Yahoo! campus and talk about how together we could leverage the technology and social media know-how at Yahoo! to support teachers in the classroom.
We called this group of educational pioneers our Yahoo! Teachers of Merit. They came from urban, suburban, wired, not-so-wired, public and private schools located all over the San Francisco Bay Area. We had veteran teachers and newbie teachers. We had Teach for America teachers and teachers entering their final year of teaching.
We asked this amazing and diverse group of educators to bring their teacher's eye, and plenty of advice. We wanted to know what technology works, what doesn't work in the classroom. We also made it clear that Yahoo! understands it's about using technology to support instruction, not using instruction to support technology.
Teachers talked. Yahoo! listened.
Our Yahoo! Teachers of Merit (YTOMs) told us that teaching was a very isolating profession. They also told us there was never enough time in the day to get everything done. Collaboration between teachers, even at the same school, was difficult. Finally, they also expressed that they needed help to tame the myriad of standards, scripts, and testing requirements.
From the get-go we also understood that this was very much a collaborative process, all of us, building something together that would benefit the teaching community. We started with an early prototype of Yahoo! Teachers and based on their ongoing feedback we have continued to refine the service.
Video by Yahoo! Teachers of Merit Judy Pappas
Almost a year after this journey started, we are ready to share Yahoo! Teachers with the rest of the teaching community. Last week at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conference in St. Louis, we launched a sneak peek of Yahoo! Teachers and the Y! Gobbler.
The feedback from teachers at NSTA was phenomenal. Science teachers from Gilbert, Arizona to Stockholm, Sweden crowded around the Yahoo! Teachers booth and watched us use the Y! Gobbler to easily collect, organize, and annotate resources from any page on the web.
Teachers at our NSTA workshops saw first hand how they could use Yahoo! Teachers to collaborate with teachers from down the hall or Down Under. Like our YTOMs, teachers at NSTA caught the vision of how social media tools can be leveraged to support the teaching community.
In fact, on the last day of the conference, several of the teachers we met at NSTA asked us to thank our YTOMs for taking time out of their busy life and summer vacation to help steer the development of Yahoo! Teachers. I couldn't agree more.
“Living systems contain their own solutions. When they are suffering in any way - from divisive relationships, from lack of information, from declining performance - the solution is always to bring the system together so that it can learn more about itself from itself.
Last July our Yahoo! Teachers of Merit helped seed a new community that we expect to be the start of something great. And we want you to join us. Yahoo! Teachers is about more than technology and we know that community is the heart of Yahoo! Teachers. After all, "people are the killer app."
So if you, or someone you know is a teacher, let's work together to bring the system together. Let's use the power of the web to leverage the knowledge network that exists in this community. Let's make the seemingly impossible, possible. Together we can explore all the possibilities.
Welcome to Yahoo! Teachers. Bring your passion and creativity. We'll bring the technology.