Monday, October 8, 2007

Web 2.0: So What?

An article that came out from the Infinite Thinking Machine blog brought to light how teachers should try to move to Classroom 2.0. It got me to thinking about web 2.0 and how it relates to my situation of being in charge of technology integration.
For those of you unfamiliar with web 2.0 tools, they are basically online tools that allow you to customize the web. I'm not even going to start listing them (but Delicious bookmarking, Facebook, wikis are examples) because new ones begin everyday. Blogger is another example.
Web 2.0 tools are outstanding for being able to get your information out to the world, whether it's your bookmarks, pictures or "cool" ideas. They have a definite purpose in society. I use many different ones for my personal life, and am slowly finding more ways to use them in my professional life. I will say that our district does provide us with some paid services that allow us to do many of the same things. It's not a "better than that" attitude. It goes back to security/paranoia (OK, maybe that is "better than that")
But why hasn't web 2.0 taken hold in education? We don't have enough hands to hold on to them!
Ever heard of NCLB? Yes, that NCLB. The focus of NCLB? Very funny. Witholding money from schools isn't the focus. The focus is on testing students to make sure they are improving. So then why hasn't web 2.0 taken off? Because there aren't enough examples of how it's helping! I've never seen web 2.0 specifically mentioned in a best practices article. And trust me, most "decision makers" need to see it in writing before they'll believe it.
There are a couple reasons for a lack of examples. One is because web 2.0 changes on a daily basis. Things come and go so quickly and we are all so wanting to be the first to jump on a bandwagon to welcome everyone else. The other is because web 2.0 is still relatively new, in education speak. You HAVE NOT done any studies showing how it helps students who have graduated (especially 10 year+ studies). I'm not saying that it doesn't better engage students. I'm not that dumb. I realize that having the ability to customize something that you can post on the Internet and show off to your friends and family is great. But remember who you're trying to convince. You are not trying to convince me to use 2.0. I get it! I see the potential. Many teachers don't have the vision to see potential. They see what their test scores are and that they don't have 12 hours a day to devote to teaching. They are already crammed down with district "information." They wouldn't even know where to begin searching for 2.0 tools. Yes, it is sad. We haven't even begun to discuss how this looks like in the elementary.
I would highly encourage everyone reading this to visit the ITM blog and others and experiment with web 2.0. Being able to successfully introduce this into your classroom will greatly enhance your teaching if done correctly. And then get back to us so we can share your success and steal them.
Here's another great article that I completely agree with discussing why teachers aren't using web 2.0.
Great feedback from the ITM aritlce:
TeachersFirst Edge has some great ratings and information on 2.0 applications, including suggestions on what ability levels it would be best for.

Web 2.0 Tutorial gives a layman's description of 2.0 applications and also the educational value of such.

Another great article about web 2.0 tools and how to get more people involved from Steve Dembo on T&L.

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