Much of the work currently being written on
Web 2.0 is actually posted on the internet, often in those very
tools. Many educators have chosen to contribute publicly to
the body of knowledge about the available tools, their pros
and cons and ideas for their use in the classroom.
From extensive reading on the internet by many
of the teachers who are using and evaluating these tools, I
have learned that the most common tools being used are blogs,
wikis, RSS feeds and multimedia sites.
Blogs are web logs, which are on-line journals
where students can post reflections or written assignments.
An area for comments under each posting can be used for teacher,
class or public feedback. Each student can also have their own
blog, which can be linked to a central classroom blog moderated
by the teacher. Blogs can also be private, available only to
registered and approved students, or public. Most blogs allow
images and video and many offer other tools and customization.
There are a number of blogs specifically geared towards classroom
use (see Appendix D). These blogs offer greater security for
students and usually are associated with a user group of teachers
who offer advice on setting up a classroom blog and ideas for
Wikis are multi-page sites that allow collaborative
input. Students can add and edit content, which can include
images, sounds, video and other multimedia. Wikis usually have
a history or edit changes page so that a teacher can assess
individual student input if a student is required to log in
before adding material. As in blogs, wikis can be public or
private and those set up for educational use usually have active
Teachers are now encouraging students to collect
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds related to a topic of
interest, or to collect blog entries for students in their class.
RSS allows students to sign up for new information that is posted
to their favourite web-sites so that they don’t have to
check each one individually for updates. In other words, the
information comes to them, instead of them having to go find
it. Students need to evaluate what information is out on the
internet and make choices about reliable and relevant choices
for their research. Another source of information is the social
content or news site, which does the collecting for the user,
based on a specific area of interest (or general interest).
Some of these sites allow users to rate stories based on quality
Students are also being encouraged to post multi-media
files on the internet. PowerPoint presentations can be converted
into slideshows and posted to sites like SlideShare. Videos
can be posted to YouTube or GoogleVideos or TeacherTube, or
students can be asked to view presentations posted by others
on a relevant topic. Photo Sharing sites are being used by classes
to post art work or digital photos. These photos can be tagged
according to content, and comments can be added about the images.
Another tool of the Web 2.0 which is favoured
by students is the social network, for example MySpace and Facebook.
Although there has not been much use of these tools for educational
purposes as yet, there have been some attempts to tap into student
interest in these sites. Some teachers have been using Facebook
to communicate with students, for example as a replacement to
e-mail. The ability to create groups can also allow students
to ask questions and provide feedback in one handy place. Artists
have created art galleries of their work and politicians have
created information sites on Facebook and MySpace. It is worth
considering the intense interest generated by social networks
and considering how to harness that interest in the classroom.
The Web 2.0 is constantly changing, with existing
applications being improved and new applications being introduced.
The active teacher community associated with many of the tools
ensures that these tools are designed with safety, ease and
use and customization in mind.
Using Web 2.0 Tools in the Classroom
Any program that uses the tools of the internet
should take into account any hardware and software requirements,
ease of use for both the teacher and student and student safety.
I would be testing any tool that I was considering using and
making myself familiar with its pros and cons through my own
evaluation and by reading the teacher feedback from the user
communities. I have created an evaluation form that takes into
account the different features and requirements that I would
need to consider before introducing any tool to my students
(Appendix B). I would use the form in order to assess each program
and ensure that it met my requirements.
In planning my art program, I would take into
account the time it would take to explain the tool’s features
and give students a chance to experiment with it. A key component
of my introducing Web 2.0 tools into the class would also be
an explanation of safety considerations, for example, no posting
of private and identifying information on the internet. I would
also need to be vigilant throughout the year to ensure that
students are following the rules.
A sample list of rules can be found in Appendix
G, however I would prefer to ask students to develop the rules
so that they would take ownership of them. I would also ask
them to sign the rules as part of an Acceptable Use Policy,
post them on the walls of the computer room, give each student
and copy and make them available to parents on Parent Teacher
In a mixed ability classroom, different tools
would be appropriate for different learning styles and needs.
For auditory learners, creating podcasts about the works of
an artist could be considered, while for visual learners, a
mindmap or wiki might be useful. For students with organization
problems, wikis or blogs can be structured by the teacher into
clearly defined areas of assignment. There is an excellent variety
of tools available and they can be used individually or combined
for maximum benefit.
consideration is the work that is being done to make web-sites
and tools accessible to learners with vision problems and physical
limitations There are design and development guidelines developed
by the World Wide Web Consortium, which provides standardization
rules for the web. The Center for Applied Special Technology
(CAST) provides an analysis tool called Bobby to indicate if
a web-site is accessible to people with disabilities.