Sunday, 7 October 2007

Web 2.0 and an attitude

The advent of Web 2.0 is leading to a lot of hype about the potential for social networking to transform teaching and learning, allowing teachers and students to work in ways more familiar to young people who have been variously described as the 'Net generation' or Digital Natives', those born since 1984.

The question is: is the hype justified? Do the applications of Web 2.0 actually offer education access to the ways in which young people work? In my experience, not without changes in how curricula is perceived and taught. The buzz word for some time in the educational literature has been 'constructivist', but while everyone (well, most) agree with many of the tenants of constructivism, once the pointy end of the curriculum is reached (exams), then more traditional behavioural, teacher-centred approaches are the norm.

I would like to suggest, however, that 'constructivism is NOT the enemy of exam results!'

There is considerable evidence that allowing students more control of their learning environments, using more flexible means of assessment (for example, portfolios and ePortfolios), allows students to achieve more. Web 2.0 applications can help achieve some of these goals by providing new ways of engaging and learning. For example, a quick search of the recent conference publications on using Second Life for teaching and learning will surprise many. More soon.

4 comments:

Lee-Anne said...

I think that at the moment the majority of teachers are not aware of the wide range of applications available. I have been running a workshop for the last 5 months on Web2.0 apps and leading discussions with staff about how these could be used in L&T. Most of the people in my workshops think Facebook when they think web2.0 - when shown the wide variety of tools they are overwhelmed, then quickly inspired. It is also an huge cultural shift for some colleagues - the lack of 'classroom control' on the process is quite daunting for some people.

Joseph said...

Getting students to write things in Blog is always difficult. They need to have the interest to write their messages in English, like many people, young students are afraid of making mistakes in using other language. Web 2.0 tools emphasize contribution and authoring by the users but the level of usage is still relatively small (<40%) and most people is still readers, not authors.

matsuko woo said...

While my colleagues haven’t heard of some of the Web 2.0 terminology such as; Wikis, Blog, Poadcasting, social bookmarking, iTune, You Tube etc, my children all born in the era of Digital Natives are not only familiar with most of these terms but are actually using them on daily basis and they have become part of their life style. I don’t think we can ignore these phenomena and the educators need not only to equip themselves but also need to change the fundamental attitude toward the whole learning and teaching process. The teachers can learn from the students how this new technology works and understand how they can help in their learning. The teachers will have to become learners together with the students and their role will shift from ‘sage on the stage to a guide behind the stage’ and even to the participants of a community of learners. This paradigm shift is hard since many of us feel more secure having control of the students’ learning process.

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