Week #4: Educational Applications of Web 2.0

The Hsu et al. chapter identifies different categories of Web 2.0 tools and how they accommodate student learning (specifically table 1). What is your perspective on the classification and application of tools based on your own knowledge and work with various Web 2.0 tools?

My experience with Web 2.0 tools as a math teacher are limited – for now. As I gain more experience as a teacher, however, I plan to devote myself to incorporating these socially, cognitively stimulating resources into my students’ regular learning.

I taught a course in financial literacy last year, and I felt that this class was my opportunity to branch out and try using Web 2.0 in my curriculum. Google Docs were a great way for students to collaboratively engage with the information, whether summarizing it, synthesizing it, or discussing it with one another. For example, students worked in groups to summarize the U.S. government’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (bls.gov). With this collective pool of information, they weighed in on why one aspect of the government’s research was more important to them than others. Another activity involved making a personal budget, and for this task students used a Google Spreadhseet. Again, the seemingly individualistic, one-dimensional nature of the kind of learning that typically might occur for an assignments like this one became a social experience that allowed students to seek the feedback of their peers based on their experiences and knowledge as well as provide feedback of their own. Overall, these Web 2.0 tools took these learning experiences from registering low on the cognitive scale to the level of evaluation ands elf-evaluation. Based on my experience, the classifications of various Web 2.0 tools as shown by Hsu et al. (p. 357) is accurate, and the application examples given at the end of each section stunningly show the broad range of rich learning possible with these tools. I’ve been (desperately) hoping to find specific examples of their use and was thrilled to learn so much from this reading.

What do you see as the most significant insights about application of technology into the classroom based on this chapter?

Tagging, the way it was used in Mrs. Liam’s class (p. 359), was an extraordinary way to foster international collaboration and evaluative reasoning skills. More significant still is a student’s sense of ownership when learning through a Web 2.0 technology (Hsu et al., p. 364). Self-regulatory processes are at the heart of a successful life-long leaner, a goal of mine as a teacher that I mentioned in a previous blog post and a purpose with which others concurred. The affective gains of using technology in the classroom are also noteworthy. As Dickey (2004) mentioned in the example of student teachers blogging about their reflections, I really like how students can express their emotions and concerns and seek the feedback and help they need to be successful (p. 288). Fostering that kind of initiative in a student is beyond anything I ever thought I could accomplish with a chalk and talk lesson.

I comment below on other parts of the readings that I found interesting and thought provoking.

In the executive summary of the HR 2011, the authors state that “the days of isolated desk jobs are disappearing, giving way to models in which teams work actively together to address issues too far-reaching or complex for a single worker to resolve alone” (p. 3). How right they are. Although I like the movie Office Space for its ability to mock the cubical life of the corporate world, those days are almost gone. My friend, who works for a world leader in financial services, belongs to a team of colleagues, and they collaborate daily on the job.

In education, I have two passions: teaching students, and teaching teachers. Due to the latter passion, I am excited to learn that “teacher preparation programs are beginning to include courses related to digital media literacy” (HR 2011, p. 4). Since part of my job is training staff on technology use in the classroom, I take serious note of obstacles facing educators in learning how to leverage technology in their curricula. “The challenge is exacerbated by the fact that digital technologies morph and change quickly at a rate that generally outpaces curriculum development” (HR 2011, p. 4). Sound familiar? Elsewhere in this class we read about the need to teach our students to be adaptive in an ever-changing world. The same holds for education staff. Pedagogical concepts surrounding Web 2.0 use need to be focused upon. When lesson planning, have a clear idea in mind of how you want to use the technology; e.g., to foster collaboration, or improve students’ self-reflective skills, and so forth.

One of my professional goals is to include game-based learning in my curricula. “Research continues to demonstrate its effectiveness for learning for students… [and] the greatest potential of games for learning lies in their ability to foster collaboration, problem-solving, and procedural thinking” (HR 2011, p. 5). These latter three gains from this type of learning are highly relevant skills for my math students, and I’m desperately in need of more ways to move away from didactic instruction in my classroom while still maintaining the integrity of my teaching, AKA, my students continue to learn the course content at the same or even higher levels.

5 thoughts on “Week #4: Educational Applications of Web 2.0

  1. Justin Montgomery Post author

    @exp939 I would love to share more about the financial literacy class, but I only taught it for one semester, and I only used Google Docs a couple of times. Sorry! I’m glad that you find them very useful and that you had a class which used them frequently and taught you how to use them.

    @Hannah Thanks for the link and sharing in my enthusiasm for game-based learning. Your term gamification rocks!

  2. Hannah Inzko

    I was so thrilled to read about your interest in game-based learning. I too, am a huge proponent of gamification in education. For a conference I hosted recently, I was able to bring in to speak on the educational benefits of gaming. It was absolutely inspiring.
    Another thing that struck me from your post was the part about how you plan your lessons. This is something that I have been doing myself lately, maybe just a little differently. When thinking about lesson plans I typically identify the behavior from students that I am after, whether it be increased engagement, attendance, self-reflection or collaboration and then choose the tool (or tools) around those actions. Sometimes those tools can play double duty and the table makes that easy to see.

  3. Karen Yarbrough

    I liked your emphasis on teaching educators. It’s definitely right up my alley. I, too, think it’s important for teachers to think critically about how they are using technology and for them to put those thoughts down in their lesson planning. Technology shouldn’t be an afterthought if it is going to be fully integrated into the classroom learning experience.

  4. exp939

    Since I am not familiar with financial literacy class, I would love to hear from you more details on your class during this summer. Also I am wondering which grade you taught financial literacy. Is there any challenging activities using Web 2.0 in your class?

    As you mentioned above, Google Docs allows many helpful activities for students. In addition that, I found there are more advantages from my experience.I hadn’t used Google Doc before coming America this year. Now I am using Google Docs a lot in class. It had been long time to come back to school to study since I graduated form College. I am overwhelmed sometimes because the rest of the classmates are so knowledgeable and I am not accustomed to Education terminologies in America.. it is sometimes hard to catch up with the class. Fortunately, I took (just finished last week) one summer class and the professor used a lot of different Web 2.0 tools. Everyone posted some articles that related to that class and I could have studied in advance and see where the other classmates find their resources. Some classmates who found interesting articles or related to other’s post, they comments and linked the website address through Google Docs. I felt really comfortable with that class at the end of the class. What I was fascinated was Web 2.0 let us connect and support each other just like face-to-face classroom.

    I would willingly use various Web 2.0 tools I have experienced in class and here our class if I taught my students now. Instead, I am looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you again!

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