Week 4: Educational Applications of Web 2.0

Week 4: Educational Applications of Web 2.0
Tagging, collaborative writing tools, and journaling each offer a different set of benefits for students. Each requires students to organize old knowledge while constructing new knowledge and evaluating others shared knowledge.

In my own classroom, I often incorporate collaborative writing, requiring   my students to work together on a project (whether it be a research paper or a presentation) and to combine their knowledge and opinions in an organized manner. These Web 2.0 tools that students utilize, such as GoogleDocs and Wikis, allow them to access each others shared projects and provide feedback to one another. I found figure 1 in the Hsu chapter from this week’s reading to be very interesting in that the cycle of growing and improving on oneself never seems to stop in the diagram. Cognitive tools which provide information to students allow them to increase their own individual understanding. When combined with collaboration tools, students are easily able to share their new knowledge with others in order to receive feedback and further improve their new knowledge. The process of giving and receiving feedback and interacting with one another using these collaboration tools has no clear end.

Although I have not  used blogs in my own classroom, I was intrigued by the examples provided in this week’s reading. I keep portfolios of Math work in my classroom by utilizing a notebook routine with my students. I love the idea of blogging to provide students with an organized way to store their learning and growth throughout the school year. Blogs easily allow reflection as the archived posts can easily be accessed.

The final sentence that stood out to me from this week’s reading was actually buried in the recommendations at the end of this chapter. Motivating students is one of the most difficult parts of my job as a teacher. Web 2.0 tools allow students to share their learning and creations with real audiences. This alone will often motivate children to put forth effort towards completing a school assignment in order to share their work with others and received positive feedback and appraisal from someone besides their teacher.


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

  1. jaf378

    This discussion about motivation of students really jumped out to me, too. Web 2.0 might be new and unique to educators, but are students buying in? We can get them to participate by utilizing web 2.0 in assignments, but we also should make sure we’re diversifying their experiences, as Courtney suggests. I think exposing their work to a public audience is a good step. I also agree with Phil that giving them some ownership of their experience, whether its developing their own assignments or working collaboratively across groups, gives them the freedom to take control of their learning. Otherwise, we fall into the same structure of a teacher pushing out content and assignments to unengaged students, just with different tools.

  2. Phil

    @Courtney – I wonder if one part of the puzzle here is letting go. It’s most teachers natural tendency to be knowledgeable in all aspects of a technology and to anticipate all the ways or directions that a lesson may go that incorporates it. But what about allowing for some leeway and ambiguity into the lesson design? For instance, instead of presenting students with one pathway towards completing a particular assignment or project, what about presenting multiple options? Similarly, what about seeking input from them on possible pathways? Students could spend 5-10 minutes, for instance, in small groups generating different ideas.
    Another option that teachers have found successful is to make it as authentic as possible. This can happen by targeting an assignment towards a real audience. Public blogs are one way to do this, and wikis are another. More specifically, these can be contextualized within Problem-Based Learning assignments. For example, students complete a blogging assignment/project regarding an issue impacting their local community – e.g., lack of adequate bicycle paths, nutritional programs, city parks.

  3. Hannah Inzko

    I thought one of the best pieces of the article was the implementation recommendations for teachers at the end. Motivation is tough but also a critical piece if students are really going to learn from the experience. While it is important that there be an audience for a students blog, either inside or outside of the class, it is also crucial that the audience is engaged. Having a teacher or peer comment on a blog or promote the blog as something of interest in a different outlet (i.e. Facebook, Yammer, Twitter, etc.) can be a strong enough reinforcement for a student to want to continue to write. Its up to us to make their initial writings a BIG DEAL.

  4. Karen Yarbrough

    I noticed the bit at the end about motivation, too. How interesting that students who know that their reputations are at stake try harder! A public access blog is a great way to get student work outside the insular world of the classroom, but I wonder about privacy policies. Would that sort of thing be covered by a permission slip, I wonder?

  5. cnb135

    The final piece stood out at me too, Erika.
    Its difficult, especially with high school students, to get them motivated and excited about anything. I think one of the interesting pieces of this is that Web 2.0 tools can help to get them motivated. I have found though, when I share technology ideas with colleagues and everyone begins to use them, the students get overwhelmed and bored. We need to keep mixing it up for these multi-tasking, always on the move students!

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