Analysis and Conclusion

Analysis

I believe, based on my literature review and own observations, that the use of Web 2.0 tools in my grade 11 visual arts classroom will offer a method of differentiating both my instruction and assessment that will engage students and lead them to produce work that shows a greater depth and quality than currently being submitted. The wide variety of available tools will allow me to plan and program activities that would appeal to students with different intelligences and learning needs. Students who learn better with auditory activities could become involved in creating a podcast about a work of art, recording observations and history and picking appropriate accompanying music. Students who learn better visually could structure their work using mind mapping software and post their work onto a wiki.

Students are encouraged by the public nature of these tools to post work of better quality, as they know others will see what they write. As well, feedback from other students, teachers, parents and even strangers can be a strong social motivator. Educators can take advantage of this knowledge to incorporate Web 2.0 tools into their curriculum.

There is a certain inherent structure within Web 2.0 tools. Students need to learn how to use the tools, which usually have their own language and requirements. Wikis, for example, are set up as linking pages. Students can either be given full freedom to be in charge of the content or can be given a list of required pages, which they need to create. Gifted students may prefer to take on the challenge using their own inquiry and approach while a student with learning disabilities may work better with a limited structure. Accommodations can be made for students depending upon their individual needs – teachers can provide more one-on-one assistance, help in structure assignments, peer assistance, more time and other methods.

Some tools are very effective in helping students to categorize and organize the huge amount of information that they need to process in school. This is especially helpful for students with organizational difficulties. Tags and mapping programs encourage students to find important keywords or ideas and build connections.

Assessment of work done through Web 2.0 tools can be informal and formative, for example, through observation and checklists. Many of the tools make it very easy for teachers to track work, especially when students are required to sign in to create bogs or wiki pages and post comments on the pages of other students. Teachers can use the history or edits page of a wiki to view individual contributions, which can pose a problem in traditional work. Checklists can be used to track completeness of work. Discussions can also be used in conjunction with blogs to stimulate students to post opinons. Summative assessment can be done using rubrics which measure the process and the product.
An area that has not been touched on within this inquiry, but deserves its own consideration, is the use of Web 2.0 tools and interactive sites to create and collaborate on actual art-making. There are many sites that encourage any interested person to participate in group projects. Some of the sites are listed in Appendix I.
Another fascinating development is the creation of virtual classrooms in Second Life and other virtual world programs. There are a surprising number of universities, museums and other institutions that have developed classrooms (www.simteach.com) that allow educators and students to interact with each other, attend virtual lectures with teachers and guest experts and experiment with new ideas within a safe, simulated environment. One example related to this inquiry is the potential use of a van Gogh museum on Second Life that allows students to step into van Gogh paintings for further study. Second Life offers a specific and safe area for teens, as the general Second Life environment is not open to anyone under 18.

There is so much more to explore. As educators experiment with existing and new tools, whey will undoubtedly share their experiences with other teachers. My challenge will be to evaluate the tools and to try and determine which ones will work best for the individual needs of the students in my class.


Conclusion

The excitement conveyed by educators who are currently using Web 2.0 tools in their classrooms is very encouraging. There seems to be a general consensus that students become more engaged, more empowered and more inquiring when they use these tools. The quality of their work also improves as they know that what they post can be seen by others. The internet also allows students to work collaboratively and beyond the walls of their classroom, for a more authentic and even global experience.

Web 2.0 tools encourages students to become participants in their learning. Instead of listening to lectures, they create the input. The tools also allow community building by encouraging collaboration, through blog comments and wiki group work, for example. Tools of Web 2.0 are not a panacea by themselves. They should be used an integral part of the curriculum, to differentiate activities, heighten interest and connect students to a world beyond classroom walls.

This inquiry has enabled me to examine the various tools, understand how they are currently being used by educators and begin to plan to use them in my own art classroom for curriculum differentiation and enrichment. As well, I am taking into account new ways to assess students who are using this new technology.

My inquiry research is merely the tip of the iceberg. There will constantly be new tools to explore and new ways to use them. I will be posting my lesson plans and assessment strategies onto the web so that I can share them with other teachers and ask for feedback and input. Although the above heading says “Conclusion” it is really just a beginning.

 

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