My school is an IB school. We follow the philosophy that to educate students requires an international understanding of the world, people and ideas. Part of the curriculum requires fifth graders to participate in an Exhibition where they use knowledge accumulated over six years of education to communicate their ideas on a global issue such as displacement, global warming, lack of education, pollution, world hunger, and limited access to fresh, clean water.
Last year, the fifth grade team asked me to brush students up on Publisher/PowerPoint/Word skills so they could construct their presentation. This year, I'm taking a different approach by encouraging students to think outside the box in communicating their ideas. We're spending six weeks studying and teaching each other some of the amazing online communication tools that offer motivating and inspirational ways to share thoughts.
Twitter can easily be dismissed as a waste of time in the secondary school classroom. Students will get distracted. Students will see tweets they shouldn't at their age. How does one manage a room full of Tweeple without mobile phones? Is it even appropriate for years 7 and 8?
Here's some ammunition for what often turns into a pitched, take-sides verbal brawl as well-intended teachers try to come to a compromise on using Twitter (in fact, many of the new Web 2.0 tools-- blogs, wikis, websites that require registrations and log-ins, discussion forums. You can probably add to this list) that works for all stakeholders:
Every day in my K-8 tech classes, I use a variety of cloud-based tools to enhance the learning experience for my students. There are more of these 'Web 2.0' tools than I can keep up with, but when you teach tech or coordinate technology for your school, 'keeping up' is part of your job.
Here's how I determine which of these hundreds (thousands?) of tools are student-ready:
- Before I introduce a tool to my class, I try it myself. Can I get it to work with ease? Is it intuitive or will it require teaching? Does it work as promised? Are there intrusive ads? Will students get distracted as they work through the steps required to complete the assignment?
- Next, I query my social networks to determine the experiences of fellow tech teachers. Have they had much success with this tool? Any problems they ran into? Is it stable? If my e-colleagues find that the glamour of the Web tool is only skin deep, I move on. Of course, sometimes I'm ahead of the curve and my colleagues are unfamiliar with the tool. In truth, that rarely happens. There's always someone somewhere who has experience.
‘Web 2.0’ is a term familiar to all teachers. Stated in its simplest form, it’s the set of interactive internet-based tools used by students to enrich educational opportunities. ‘Web 1.0’ referred to the act of accessing websites—nothing more. Students read websites, clicked a few links, and/or researched a topic.
Web 2.0—Web-based education basics--includes blogs, wikis, class internet homepages, class internet start pages, twitter, social bookmarks, podcasting, photo sharing, online docs, online calendars, even Second Life—all tools that require thoughtful interaction between the student and the site. For teachers, it’s a challenge to keep up with the plethora of options as the creative minds of our new adults stretch the boundaries of what we can do on the internet.