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Web 2.0 Debate

This week at NECC 2009 I definitely had my eyes opened to the web 2.0 debate. For me, it’s never really been a debate. When I started learning more about the technologies that are available to teachers and students through web-based applications, I jumped right on the bus. As a sat in a panel web 2.0discussion moderated by Steve Hargadon, founder of Classroom 2.0, it was interesting to see that not everyone is feeling that way. Somehow I had envisioned that the others attending the National Educational Computing Conference were like minded and up to speed on the same ed tech trends. I was truly taken aback by the numerous people who I overheard questioning what exactly web 2.0 is anyways. I’m certainly not saying there’s anything wrong with it (now I sound like Seinfeld), but I was surprised that there are still those who are totally unaware of the tools and resources that are available to enhance learning and teaching today.

One of the best questions that was asked during that panel was something to the effect of the following: Is Web 2.0 just a fad? A passing trend? Many responses were shared by the panel, but I have been thinking heavily on this topic ever since.

The term “Web 2.0” by nature sounds as if it is just a fad. When we add a number to something, it sounds as if it is going to be replaced by another version new and improved. There is already talk about Web 3.0. In education, we are constantly faced with a pendulum swing of methods and philosophies. How can we expect educators to want to learn more about a trend that, by name, seems to be something that will pass? Why would they want to? There are plenty of web 2.0 companies that haven’t survived. As one panel member pointed out, free doesn’t tend to be a good business model. If we are constrained to seeing Web 2.0 as a compilation of web based tools, then I am afraid that it will be a passing fad – or at least it will be viewed that way by a great percentage of educators.

megaphoneInstead, we must stop looking at web 2.0 as a collection of tools and more as a different mind set. What can these web-based tools offer to teachers and students? First, I believe it offers a voice. Great change in history has come from when brave individuals discovered their voices and found ways to share them with the world – from Martin Luther and the 95 Theses he nailed on the Catholic church in Wittenberg to Anne Frank and the memories she recorded while hiding in the attic of a home in Amsterdam to the students of Erin Gruwell‘s high school English classes who came to be known as the Freedom Writers. These people effected change and drew attention to important issues because of their ability to find a way to share their stories. Collaborative and sharing tools that are free and web-based have made it possible for our students to have a voice – to share their stories and learn the stories of others.

Teachers also have the ability to benefit greatly from web-based technologies such as Twitter, nings, Facebook and other social networking sites. For me, these web 2.0 applications have re-opened the world of learning for me as a professional. Through connections that teachers can freely develop, we have the opportunity to make self-driven learning decisions without regard to cost, geography or time constraints. While I may not be able to glean relevant and applicable learning from all the required workshops that I must attend, I know that I can investigate current trends in education for the benefit of myself and my students. Frankly, I believe that the successful implementation of these new opportunities for classrooms must begin with the teacher’s learning. It is my belief that it isn’t until the classroom teacher experiences the powerful results of these online networks that they can truly foster this learning in their students.

So, is Web 2.0 a trend? I think the term itself will, in fact, fall to the wayside. Actually, I hope it will. I can’t imagine that the opportunities that come from what these web-based applications have to offer will go away. I know that my learning and teaching have truly been transformed. Why will students give up the chance to be connected global learners? Will teachers? I hope not. So if you aren’t diving into the tools being offered through this transformative trend in education, start now. Don’t do it because it is “popular.” Investigate these trends and opportunities because you can benefit from them greatly – both personal and professional. Try it. Don’t start with your students. Start with you!

Seussian Megaphone : by paradigmshifter

14 Responses

  1. […] 2.0 & Teachers Kelly Hines has this post on the Web 2.0 debate among educators and its uses by teachers. Instead, we must stop looking at web […]

  2. I hope teachers and administrators all over the world take your recommendation to “Start with you!”

    However, I am surprised that you are surprised that “there are still those who are totally unaware of the tools and resources that are available to enhance learning and teaching today.” I would venture to guess that over 2/3 of the faculty in the College of Education where I teach have no clue about how technology will reshape learning, either in schools or, most likely, without schools . And in the county in which I teach I would venture to say that 95% of those currently teaching are totally uninformed about the societal and technological changes that are engulfing us all. They may have heard of Twitter, maybe even blogs, but “heard about” is the extent of it.

    All, and I mean all, of my students think that teaching in the next decade will be like teaching when they were students. Some leave my class with a different idea about the future, but they are entering school systems that are controlled by parents and administrators who think schools should be like they were “when I went to school”.


  3. I hardly think this transformation of communication could be coined a ‘fad.’ I found since sharing on Twitter for the last six months that VOICE indeed equals power. Our students have grown up with food water and tech tools; why not keep learning as intuitive and fluid as our new tools can provide. I am excited to see how publishing will morph from traditional books to fully interactive media all because of the new creative apps designers provide. I would hope when I share with our high school the multitude of tools ready for exploring, they too see the benefits of the oldest of human intent- communication- is worth taking the road less traveled. Our students will benefit from our willingness to tinker with new tools. Maybe we should redefine new, for students this is just a world within reach, nothing new. Web 2.0 is the way to transform New to NOW.

  4. Is Web 2.0 a trend? I certainly think that the term is hyped. Generelly speaking, web 2.0 is the transformation of the web from a static to a participatory space where the users have control over content. This is an incredibly powerful thing for students and have given tremendous power to their voice and learning. Education can leverage these Web 2.0 tools to empower students to tell stories and share them with the world. This applies to all aspects of learning. I have an ever-growing list of tools on my site here: http://www.csteinberg.com/Web%2020.html

  5. Kelly,
    First let me just say again that it was a pleasure to meet you face to face at NECC09. You are every bit as charming in person as your online persona indicates. Now to your post.

    I know that I teach in a school where very few of the teachers could give a simplistic definition of Web 2.0. They certainly do not use the tools afforded them on the web. We have just reached a point where most of the teachers can add an attachment to an email and send it. They have been forced (a two year process) to keep an online grade book and many need a lot of support each nine weeks to make sure they have done it properly.

    Why are we lagging behind? The vast majority of teachers in my building are older, more experienced teachers who did not have technology available to them when they completed their college courses. Even their post-graduate course work was done before the onset of most of today’s technology.

    So how do we get them onboard? It has been a slow process but it is happening. Thanks to our prinicipal, our two days of on campus staff development were set up like break-out sessions at a conference. The teachers chose what sessions they wanted to attend. There were two technology sessions included in the list of choices that were presented by myself and our media specialist. In my session I taught how to find websites and list them on their eBoard note.I had to start with locating a URL address, copying and pasting commands, and hyperlinking text. Our media specialist taught them how to use several services that our school system pays for such as Accelearated Reader and Discovery Streaming.

    Each teacher in our school system received a laptop near the end of the school year. I have been thinking of a way to help them learn how best to utilize them in their classrooms. My plan is to hold several Saturday morning sharing sessions at our favorite coffee shop (it has free wifi) before school starts. If you don’t mind I might borrow “Try it. Don’t start with your students. Start with you!” as the slogan of our meetings. At the first one we are going to attend a Classroom 2.0 Live webinar together. Then I have asked our principal to add “Wired Wednesdays” to the school calendar next year. Each Wednesday for an hour I will host a “tips and tricks” sharing session for anyone who chooses to attend. Hopefully this will get them more familiar with what is available to them on Web 2.0.

  6. At a recent in-service I was facilitating, I shared a brief “screencast” that I created on accessing files from home. A teacher in the class noticed a TweetDeck shortcut and assumed I let my child use Twitter. Teachers began to commiserate about today’s kids and that Twitter thing they do. They were chagrined to discover that I was the Twitterer in the family. I attempted to share the value, but my explanation seemed to fall on deaf ears.

  7. In general the great many of us don’t like change. We do what we do or teach the way we teach because we find that it works. In my role as a principal convincing teachers to embrace or even consider the powerful collaborative and creative power of web 2.0 tools lies with convincing them they will be even better teachers and their students more powerful learners if they give it a chance. I can’t expect them to do what I won’t do. I can push them, I can prod them, but the most important thing I can do is model for them what they can do.

  8. I think education’s habit of hyped up buzz words that then fade away may be what makes many people think Web 2.0 is one of these. For me, until I discovered Nings and Twitter, the only source of regular info I had was district trainings, professional readings and conferences. Too often I was presented with tools that needed special equipment or software that I knew we couldn’t afford. Another reason to brush off this trend.

    I think, though, that many people are starting to come around. As the need to be more connected with students, the need to be more fiscally responsible in schools and the need to preserve the envirnment become more important in schools. this “trend” can’t be ignored.

  9. @heather BINGO! The thing that made a big difference for me was getting out of the cocoon of my district trainings, etc. If it opened my eyes and world, what could it do for my students, some of whom have never left the city they were born and grew up in

    Nice post Kelly!

  10. Nice post!

    I was on the panel and I think you captured some of what I hoped to get across – that it’s about students, not hype. Web 2.0 is in serious danger of becoming the buzzword du jour, but that’s something that the community has control of. Letting marketeers take charge of the language of education is a dangerous thing.

  11. Nice post Kelly, and it was great to meet you in person at NECC!

    First of all, the phrase Web2.0 has been around since at least 2004. Five years is long enough for anyone who is the least bit interested in technology to have heard the term. That being said, it’s hard not to notice for anyone who uses the web for any common purposes including shopping, looking for information on any topic, or finding the latest news, that there are elements of user created content, sharing information, and communication on every site. So maybe the term “Web2.0” is just a term and the web is the web. If you use it at all for any reason, you can’t miss the fact that the first hit of any search is Wikipedia, every news media article includes those little icons indicating the availability to share with social networking, social bookmarking, or twitter, and shopping or planning a trip give you access to reviews written by people all over the world. Maybe we shouldn’t ask if Web2.0 is a fad and should be treated as such and instead ask, “How are we getting our children involved in opportunities to create content on the Internet and use Internet tools to collaborate and share information and media for instructional purposes?”

  12. Kelly, your message was loud and clear, however, those that should be reading it, probably are not. And as I play the devil’s advocate, I feel like the teachers present at NECC are showing their interest albeit, better late than never. If they can gleem just one little thing to spark their interest in technology, hopefully it will fire up a chain reaction and flow through them to their students and their enthusiasm will keep it going.

  13. […] Hines has this post on the Web 2.0 debate among educators and its uses by teachers. Instead, we must stop looking at web […]

  14. […] Hines has this post on the Web 2.0 debate among educators and its uses by teachers. Instead, we must stop looking at web […]

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