Using Web 2.0 Tools to provide Enrichment and Differentiation

Any activity that involves writing about art, whether it is about using appropriate terminology to critique their own work or the works of others or documenting their creative process, can be done on the internet as opposed to a paper that is handed in. As well, their studio work, including material documenting both process and self-assessment can be posted on-line.

One of the major differences in using Web 2.0 tools as opposed to written (or word processed) material, is that their work becomes public, which can be a strong motivator for better quality work. As well, students can be asked to comment on what others have written or given a chance to contribute their own ideas to the topic or assessment of other students in the class. This could easily be achieved through the use of a blog, which offers a section for comments after each posting.

Another advantage to using Web 2.0 tools to post work is the fact that their work goes beyond the walls of the classroom. They can work collaboratively and anonymously with students in other classes for a more objective critique than if they only get feedback from their classmates and friends. Family can view their work and provide feedback as well, or engage them in a dialogue about their work. Students can also find out the point of view of others around the world for a cultural exchange of ideas surrounding art making and analysis, for example, comparing the meanings of different symbols in different countries. In addition, many blogs allow tagging, or classifying of information, which reinforces the use of appropriate terminology.

All areas of the curriculum that can be enriched through Web 2.0 tools. For example, one of the topics on the curriculum is th discussion of post-secondary choices, including schools that offer arts-related choices and potential careers in the arts. Projects on these topics can be collaborative in nature, with students each researching a school or a career and adding the information to a Wiki. Guest artists and artisans can be invited to have input to the Wiki. In addition, students can ask questions of these artists and “interview” them via a blog or wiki. There are many ways in which the tools can be integrated. I have included samples in the following section.

One area in which I find students lacking motivation is being able to pick their own art work for display. I find this particularly true for those with low self-confidence due to learning problems. Many parents have indicated to me that their children have not shown them work, even though the students had been pleased with their achievement in class. By creating class galleries where students can post reflections and artists statements, and having “guest books” for others to sign, students have the opportunity to pick their best work, explain their intent and at the same time, not feel the embarrassment of having to hold up art and wait for feedback from others.

Web 2.0 tools can successfully be used with accommodations for different learning needs. The very variety of tools enables students to explore topics through multiple intelligences. For example, podcasts are auditory while mind maps are visual. Many of the tools, such as blogs and wikis, can include multimedia content including images, podcasts and videos. Students can be given a choice based on their strengths. The essential questions and information can stay the same but the method of exploring them can be differentiated. As well, Web 2.0 tools can be paired up with assistive technology for students who need their use. For example, students can use a speech recognition software to create blogs or wiki information. In addition, assignments can be structured in order to provide other accommodations, such as giving extra time for completion or reducing the number of required blogs.

Web 2.0 tools are not just another way to get students to write in a journal. They are also about collaboration and linking to bigger ideas and gaining confidence in one’s own voice. Assessment can reflect much more than a written product, as well. Since the student can be offered a variety of ways to achieve an outcome, assessment can focus on the quality of the outcome, creativity, making connections and collaborative effort. The tools can make the teacher’s job easier because most of the programs require student’s to log in so that they can post entries and add comments. This enables teacher’s to track effort, both in terms of quality and quantity, as they can see a history of what has been posted.

There is certain a benefit to using Web 2.0 tools both in programming and assessment, for students with learning differences and students with different learning styles.


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