Beginning Formal Web 2.0 Learning

In reading this week’s chapter, I realized that the most important part of integrating Web 2.0 in formal learning environments is comfort and familiarity with emerging technologies.  It’s a very simple idea, but one that is easy to assume and so to overlook.  I think those of us with more comfort (which we would have to be because most of the class seems to be Ed Tech oriented) can easily forget that for most classroom teachers many of these technologies and the very idea of using them in their classrooms with students is a very foreign and unknown concept.  When talking up these new ideas in professional development situations, it is important to remember that new media Web 2.0 technology literacy might be a completely new term and will probably need to be explicitly defined “as an individual’s ability to understand, evaluate, manage, and use Web 2.0 technologies that enhance constructivist and social-constructivist communication and collaboration to create knowledge and learning products. Note that from this definition, new media Web 2.0 technology literacy in education is critically important for both teachers and students” (Hsu, Ching, & Grabowski, 2010, p. 355).

Tagging, blogging, and collaborating on wikispaces were all given as excellent first steps into use of emerging technologies in formal classroom settings, and I think these three options are able to be used by less experienced educators without being too overwhelming for them.  It is valuable to consider that “teachers’ technical capability was the fundamental predictor for any technology to be integrated in the classroom.  That is, only after much hands-on practice will teachers start to feel confident about and consider adopting high level use of the technology with their students. This means that for a technology that requires complex skills and has a long and steep learning curve, teachers are less likely to develop the confidence they need to adopt it” (Hsu, Ching, & Grabowski, 2010, p. 354).  We don’t want to disadvantage teachers and by extension their students by not providing the support that teachers need to become more fluent with new literacies.  Table 1 on page 357 would be a good method of introducing teachers to new ideas for using emerging technologies in their classrooms, but I feel like the table is perhaps a bit too regimented.  For simplicity’s sake, I can see the point of partitioning off the three technologies in the way that the authors did, but I worry people who are less familiar might come think of the assignments and cognitive applications as proscribed and not just suggestions.  For example, wikis could easily be used to organize prior knowledge while tagging could be used more metacognitively, but the chart doesn’t reflect these uses.

I very much enjoyed the Mobile Tech and Learning course last semester, and it seems to me that using mobile technologies in the classroom could be a good gateway for teachers who aren’t yet fully comfortable with more web-based instruction techniques.  “Mobiles allow very simple tools to be easily integrated into classroom activities with no need for involvement of IT or support staff” (Johnson, Smith, Willis, Levine, & Haywood, 2011, p. 13). By using simple apps on technologies that the students would provide (i.e. their own Smartphones), the teacher could ease into new technologies without having to step too far outside their own classrooms into the wider world of the Internet.  Once the teacher was feeling more adventurous, he or she could then think about more intensive uses of mobile technologies in digital literacy instruction, such as augmented reality.  “AR that relies on mobile devices leverages an increasingly ubiquitous tool, not for social interactions but for learning, blurring the boundaries between formal and informal learning, which can in turn contribute to the evolution of a learning ecology that transcends educational institutions. Indeed, the potential for just-in-time learning and exploration, without special goggles or other equipment, is a deeply compelling aspect of this technology” (Johnson, Smith, Willis, Levine, & Haywood, 2011, p. 17). 

As a media specialist, I can’t just think about my own technology uses, but also the uses of the classroom teachers who would depend on my however rightly or wrongly assumed expertise in new technologies.  I would hope that by encouraging baby steps like suggested by this week’s authors, I would then be able to help teachers move from apps connected to a chart, map, or textbook into more advanced, yet still accessible means of digital instruction, such as tagging found articles, collaborating on creative wiki projects, or encouraging reflection and publishing through blogs.  I worry about school and district policies getting in the way, and I worry about teachers’ own concerns with privacy and Internet safety in their classrooms stopping them from being innovative.  Many of these teachers will look to me, and I’m thinking that through classes like this one I will be able to make them feel more comfortable in these new educational surroundings.

7 thoughts on “Beginning Formal Web 2.0 Learning

  1. Pingback: Group 3 Blog Curation | Emerging Learning Technologies

  2. Rachel H Tan

    Dear Karen,

    Thank you for drawing attention to the use of mobile technology which made me think about the (free) apps our programmers develop for educators, It makes sense to use smartphone devices in learning since it is ubiquitous. Regular workshops to show teachers how to use the apps is definitely necessary. Melissa suggested a newsletter to highlight innovations in teaching. This can help provide information and also inspiration and I am glad our Office of Teacher Education has recently started such a newsletter.

    Sometimes faculty do not want to invest time in learning and using emergent technologies because their performance is measured more heavily on their research work and they feel that their current method of teaching works just fine. The few who do invest time to explore emergent technologies to enhance the learning experience for their students are true to their calling as teachers. These academic staff are invited to an annual Staff Sharing session to encourage and inspire others in the use of technology.

    I really appreciate hearing from this class the many teachers who are open to innovative ways in teaching and learning. Thank you all !

  3. exp939

    Thank you all for sharing how your schools work. I am so glad to take this course. I totally agree with your main point. As a assistant trainer for school teachers for 3-4 years, I also realized that teachers need sometime to get confidence using technologies so that they utilize as much as they can and integrate Web 2.0 to their teaching strategies.

    Erika, I was surprised that your school does not allow students to use their own mobile devices like my old school. We took students’ mobile devices every morning before class started keep it in special storage till 5 when all classes are over. I think many educators and parents still think technologies distract their students’ studies. I think you are right. In my old school(since I am not there anymore now), students use their mobile devices with bad purposes such as cheating exams, bullying students and teachers video/audio-recording of some embarrassing moments, we had to make a decision like that. But as you said, there are benefits using their own devices to motivate them. Also we finally got many complaints from their parents and other educators outside that it was unfair because they were paying a lot every month but they used their devices less than they paid.

  4. Karen Yarbrough Post author

    I think it is so important to motivate teachers to use more advanced technologies through examples like a newsletter or blog. At my old school, they acted like it was such a big deal that we were given ceiling hung projectors in each classroom, and I couldn’t help rolling my eyes like “um, yeah, welcome to the new century…” The thought of using wikis or blogging would have blown those administrators’ minds. I think it’s pretty common for teachers to think just showing a TeacherTube video makes them technologically adept because they’ve never been supported to do anything more.

  5. mlc400


    The first part of your post really caught my attention. Although I am enrolled in the Educational Technology program, I find that I am alongside of most of the teachers in my building when it comes to integrating Web 2.0 tools in my classroom. It is amazing that just through these few short weeks, I can realize just how far off the mark my idea of integration was and meant. I remember sitting through inservice days where it was presented that integration was like adding a video clip or website into the lecture portion of our lesson. Or, we could show a clip prior to starting the lesson in order to give our students a preview. When I think of my co-workers and how I hear many of them talking about technology integration, it is often in this manner. I find it interesting that this is far from how technology should be integrated into the classroom. I agree with your post, when you state that we need to take time to educate the teachers on how to properly integrate technology. Teach the teachers how to use the tools, provide workshops or even tech tips. Even though I teach at the primary level, I feel that mobiles would be a great place to start for the secondary level. I could see teachers easily using Web 2.0 tools like Polls Everywhere to help infuse technology into their lessons in more meaningful ways. I hope that throughout this course, I can learn more on how to properly integrate these tools so that I can start trying them out next school year. Then, maybe I can been a light to other educators in by building and district on how to facilitate student learning with Web 2.0 tools! Thanks again for your insight!

  6. Melissa Glenn

    Erika and Karen,
    I’m wondering if at your schools there is any way that teachers that do use these new Web 2.0 tools can showcase what they did and how it affected their students’ learning? This could be as simple as a brown bag discussion or more structured like a seminar or poster session. I also know that at my kids’ school, the district newsletter sometimes highlights these new innovations in teaching. If other teachers could see that their peers were able to incorporate a new tool, it might encourage them to give it a try.

  7. eimpagliatelli

    Kudos to you for supporting the teachers at your school in integrating new technologies into their lessons. The Media Specialist at my current school has been a lifesaver in some emergency tech moments as well as offered advice which helped many of my lessons go much more smoothly. I definitely agree that taking “baby steps” is the way to go, otherwise many teachers become overwhelmed with utilizing the many tools which are now readily available for classroom use.

    Unfortunately, at my current school, the administration will not allow students to use their own mobile devices for ANY reason at ANY time throughout the school day. We are fortunate to have many types of technology readily available, but I have always thought that using students’ devices would be beneficial in that there are rarely IT issues for the teacher to decide on repairs and at the middle school level, 90% of the children have their own mobile devices readily available. They are also motivated when they can incorporate their own devices and knowledge into their school work.


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