Week 2: Learning and Web 2.0

Shifting the idea of how people learn, especially students, is a hard task to accomplish in a nation that already has their philosophy set. As mentioned in the article “Learning, Working, and Playing in the Digital Age,” these digital natives learn best through self-discovery and constant interaction/communication. Students should be able to communicate openly and freely with various sources throughout their learning experiences. Students collaborating with one another or with experts in the area of interest proves to both be instrumental in fostering deep connections that brings this style of learning to a higher level. In the article, “Minds on Fire,” it reinforces the concept that it is not about what the students are learning but about how they are learning. I had read an article before called, “Changing what and how children learn in school using computer technologies,” that stated that learning happens through, “active engagement, peer interaction, interaction and feedback, and connections to real world contexts.” All of these areas are key to helping students of today learn. With this in mind, educators need to be willing to change the traditional practices that are embedded so deeply in our country.

As an educator, I believe that when shifting to an approach of discovery based learning, the role of the educator changes dynamically. Instead of the teacher being the head of the classroom, they must instead become more of a coach/advisor to student learning. Students should have the freedom to research and complete projects in an area that is of interest to them. As mentioned in the articles, there are various projects already started where students can actually participate in submitting valuable data as part of research and development of new findings in science. Beyond the mentioned sources in the articles, I have also heard of a program called GLOBE which allows students to collaborate with scientists to help collect and evaluate data for different science experiments. When taking this approach, students are able to demonstrate their learning in a manner that best suits their learning style. Keeping in mind the idea of multiple intelligences, teachers could best embrace this by having student’s independently complete Web 2.0 tasks that meet their needs. Students could be creating presentations, videos, music, etc. to help demonstrate their understanding of the subject they are learning. This approach motivates student learning and allows them to actively engage in their learning.

Educators would need to help foster a community that collaborates with each other and safely with the outside world. The first examples that came to my mind that would benefit communication and collaboration safely in an educational setting were blogs, wiki’s, Edmodo, and Google Docs. Through all of these tools, students can talk and collaborate on tasks to help enhance their thinking and create an environment of effective learning. With Edmodo, students could even have interaction with their teacher as well as to discuss questions about the core content being learned in class. Blogs, Wiki’s, and Google Docs all are built with the understanding that more than one person can work at a time on a given project or task. Students can edit, share, modify, enhance, etc. each other’s work in order to make a more cohesive project that demonstrates thorough understanding of the concepts being presented.

As we start to move from the traditional teaching environment to more social and discovery based learning environments, we need to keep in mind that many administrations will have a hard time changing from teacher-centered lecture style classrooms. With the constraints of testing and the demands for high scores, administrators are not as open to changing learning styles unless bountiful research backs this approach. We would need to be okay viewing a classroom as a working, non-structured area where students are talking, researching, doing different projects, etc. Also, the constraints of allowing students, especially in the primary grades, to access these Web 2.0 tools would need to be eliminated in order to best meet each students learning need.



5 thoughts on “Week 2: Learning and Web 2.0

  1. jmm5032

    Marie, excellent citation of the article “Changing what and how children learn in school using computer technologies.” What makes this change so difficult is that children are the digital natives whereas the teachers, who are supposed to meet the learning needs of their students, are digital immigrants, to use the terminology coined by Marc Prensky in his publication, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Critical training will be required if teachers are to successfully make the required paradigm shift in their instructional methods. Learning how to adapt our current approach – or completely overhaul it where necessary – will not come naturally. Your quote, “active engagement, peer interaction, interaction and feedback, and connections to real world contexts” encapsulates the notion of 21-st century learning. Our students need instant feedback, and not just from us. They are constantly looking for validation from their peers or others around the world connected via the Internet.

    I like your use of coach/adviser describing the necessary mentality refocusing. Creating digitally rich content that is shared globally with a community of learners is what today’s student needs to learn best and prepare for their future. You listed great resources, such as Edmodo (education’s version of Facebook, if you will). It’s exactly the kinds of education-focused social media tools that schools need to infuse into their curriculums. Have you looked at MyBigCampus? This service offers an entire suite of social media tools, collaboration modules, and authentic assessment options.

    You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the need for administration to be open minded about learing in the digital era. One thing that needs to be reconciled is how state tests often are non-dynamic multiple choice tests whereas the way students need to learn and operate in life is through interactive means. What do you feel about the disconnect between the expectations of the state assessments and the way students actually learn? My thoughts are that you can still teach the content and the requisite critical thinking skills through modern learning environments of collaborative efforts while instilling in students the dryer test-taking know how. I would really appreciate your thoughts on this dilemma.

  2. cnb135

    It is difficult to let go of the traditional classroom. I’m glad you brought this up, Marie.
    Although I’ve opted to complete my masters coursework online, I don’t love the forum. I wish, after writing your name, that I had a face to put with it. It makes it difficult to transition for both the teacher and the student.

    With so much testing (and high stakes testing at that!), we are afraid of changing what we already know works. I know that each time I try to incorporate a new way of teaching a unit in my classroom, I get more apprehensive than the students do. I am afraid of what this new learning style might do for those who need a bit of lecture to grasp the content and ask questions.

    I’m also a control freak. A classroom environment that is not completely structured makes me cringe in my bones. I need to know that my students are learning and I lie to myself claiming that if I am talking and they are listening, they are learning something. Research shows this isn’t true. I’m slowly letting go… slowly. Web 2.0 tools are helping me get there.

  3. mlc400 Post author

    Thanks for the link Shelby! That is one thing that proves to be a little difficult with this style of teaching is the assessment piece. Like Phil stated, the use of portfolio’s to assess work would certainly be a direction! I briefly worked with portfolio’s when taking a class on technology. The class was not computer driven technology but rather the technology of project designed learning through hands on projects. During that class, we had to establish projects students could complete that were cross-curricular and hands-on. To assess student work, we used portfolio’s. Students would complete and log their progress, changes, and thoughts throughout the entire project. I could see something like this working with these projects as well. I haven’t physically used them in my teaching but it would be interesting to see if primary grades would be capable of this type of assessment since their literacy skills are minimal.

  4. Phil

    @Shelby – Good link to Solomon & Schrum. They reference some assessment options from Tuttle who seems to be leaning more towards a portfolio approach. Portfolios are more time-intensive, but they certainly provide a more nuanced approach to assessment and one that provides a richer portrait of the student’s skills and knowledge. Anyone have any experience with portfolios?

  5. Shelby Nelson

    “With the constraints of testing and the demands for high scores, administrators are not as open to changing learning styles unless bountiful research backs this approach.”

    This quote of yours really got me thinking about how assessment can be incorporated into Web 2.0 tools. I believe that Web 2.0 can help teachers with “authentic assessment”. Authentic assessment can help prepare students to take standardized testing.

    Pages 169-174 from this google book preview focuses on Authentic Assessments Made Possible by Web 2.0: http://books.google.com/books?id=ZKKQMLir_mMC&pg=PT179&lpg=PT179&dq=standardized+testing+in+todays+web+2.0&source=bl&ots=OkGchLRUyN&sig=S1222v4w_w9MSAtcmPYTQzI1GnI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=TeKYUYSZLKqr0AHRvoGwBw&ved=0CD4Q6AEwAg

    “We have seen how much students are motivated to use online social-networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook. If only we could capture that level of motivation while furthering the goals of deep learning in formative electronic learning portfolios, then we may realize the real promise of using technology to both improve and showcase student achievement (p. 174).

    Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2007). In Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools. Retrieved May 19, 2013, from http://books.google.com/books?id=ZKKQMLir_mMC&pg=PT179&lpg=PT179&dq=standardized+testing+in+todays+web+2.0&source=bl&ots=OkGchLRUyN&sig=S1222v4w_w9MSAtcmPYTQzI1GnI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=TeKYUYSZLKqr0AHRvoGwBw

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