by Yasemin Allsop
ICT Coordinator, Wilbury Primary School
What is Web 2.0?
Web 2.0 simply means web-based tools of which many are available for free. If it is used as part of well-designed lessons following a project based learning approach, because of its motivational power, it can have a positive impact upon children’s learning. It would be useful for teachers to get familiar with these programs so that they can map how they would use these tools into their lesson plans. The clarity of what they aim to manifest by using Web 2 tools within teaching and learning, will help them to decide the strategies and pedagogy they need to adopt for their teaching. For example if the aim is to develop children’s collaborative work skills then using wikis would be appropriate, however, if the children’s literacy skills in writing fiction stories is the target, then a story creator would be a useful tool. Sometimes there are so many tools, it becomes a very difficult job to decide which one to use. My advice is always discuss the issue with your colleagues, but also involve the learners too. When the tool is more relevant to learners needs and interests as well as the lesson objectives, the learning manifested also becomes an enjoyable experience.
SO WHY USE WEB 2.0 TOOLS?
There is a growing emphasis on teaching children critical thinking skills, so that they will become successful learners. Thinking, as the main foundation of cognition can be seen as the process of making constant connections between what we know and what we understand of concepts to develop further meanings. If we are to teach children thinking skills we need to focus on developing their ‘inwards thinking’ which allows them to check what they know and make a link between what they know and the new knowledge in their minds and their ‘outwards thinking’ which allows them to apply what they know into real-life situations in a physical world.
Web 2.0 tools can be used for designing a learning content and environment, where the learners can learn at a pace, where they can use their cognitive resources. They can create / design a product or a solution which involves planning, investigating / exploring, decision making, designing / creating, communicating / sharing, collaborating and finally evaluating. However, having these skills doesn’t alone guarantee that the student will learn. Learning is extensively derived on how well students can transfer and apply these skills to different learning contexts. Using Web 2.0 in teaching and learning, gives the learners the opportunity to be the driver of their learning journey, where constant conversations with ‘self’ and ‘others’ takes place.
What we need to remember is Web 2 tools can only help learners to develop their core skills such as collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, if the lesson content and the learning space is designed and managed to accommodate the application of these skills. There is no point in expecting children to improve their collaboration skills when they are not allowed to work with others because the noise level in the classroom increases. Similarly, can we assume that they would be able to evaluate their peers work if they are not allowed to move around. What this tells us is that when using digital technologies in the classroom, how the classroom is designed and managed as a learning space, will define how learning manifests itself. Be flexible in both your approach to learning, the strategies you use in the classroom and don’t rush children. Let them have time to think and turn their ideas into a design. This is why I encourage people to use a Project Based Learning approach when teaching with technology as it allows learners have enough time to master their knowledge and skills. Finally, don’t assume that you need to know everything about technology, be ready to learn with your students. It is fun and changes the way they perceive you as a teacher in a positive way.
Tune in to learn with the learners!
Click here to download the ‘Web 2 tools by Subject’ PDF booklet.