It is a bit ironic to be blogging my response to John Thompson’s article Is Education 1.0 Ready for Web 2.0 Students?, considering this form of communication is one aspect of the web he addresses. Much like technology in general, the internet is yet another tool which has seen its share of changes over time that present a challenge within the realm of education. As he concludes the article, whether or not we as educators like it, we have to be prepared and flexible enough to utilize what the evolution of the internet brings.
Since I would consider myself a part of this “Net Generation”, I have to agree with the conclusion he presents and think it is important as a future teacher to embrace the resources we have at our disposal. That said, it is critical that we use said resources in the most effective ways possible, otherwise they run the risk of becoming gimmicks with no true purpose in the classroom. For example, while I do think Smart Boards are a wonderful addition in schools, I do not think they are something essential; especially if teachers are not provided adequate time to learn how to use them efficiently.
Thompson highlights a few ways that institutions of higher learning have already begun to use Web 2.0 tools in the classroom, and these examples could be easily adapted to teaching K-12. A quick search on Google revealed a number of practical uses for Web 2.0 tools for educators of these grade levels, and this one for example, offered some great ideas for using Blogs/RSS feeds at the high school level. Another site I found, click here, offers some more background on Blogs, but also has some examples of school-based uses of the software in various contexts. It not only provides a few examples for teacher/student applications but also uses in the library, and it also has links to many articles concerning the use of Blogs in general.
What really stood out to me was the link and “teaser trailer” for a website called Students 2.0. This is a Collaborative Blog, also known as a Group Blog, that has contributions from students located all around the world. Check out the trailer below:
I am blessed to come from the “Net Generation”,with quite a bit of previous background using various Web 2.0 applications, which is going to help me be more prepared for students in the future. The beautiful thing about where the internet has been heading is the fact that, even if you are not the most tech-savvy person on the planet, it has become so easy to find examples, ideas, etc. about utilizing the web, on the web itself. There are a plethora of great sites that can be utilized in the classroom setting, as various examples above point out, and there is no discernible limit to what can be done with such resources, provided the willingness of teachers to adopt and try new things.
In closing, one of the main challenges of Web 2.0 software, tools, etc. in the face of education is finding the time to figure out meaningful ways to use them in class. Going back to my previous Smart Board example, if a teacher does not have the motivation, time, or available resources to learn how to use it effectively, then what good is it in the classroom? If it becomes nothing more than a glorified whiteboard/projection screen, it is not going to do any good for student learning. However, with some exploration and know how, the Smart Board and its software can be a great tool for classroom use. The same is true for Web 2.0 applications; as a teacher you just need the time to realize and apply the potential they hold, and the internet today offers a whole lot of potential.