Web 2.0 tools have been changing the classroom game as of late. These tools are working to transform educators’ work as well as changing the dynamic of classrooms. Nowadays, technology is a given in teaching spaces; it helps with day-to-day tasks as well as allowing student access to realms of knowledge via the internet. As technology advances, teachers are planning to evolve with it.
Web 2.0 tools are described as online software programs that invite users to do a variety of different things. These things include teaching curriculum content, creating and editing videos and photos, collaboration, storing data, and much more. These programs are typically free and available for use inside and outside of the classroom.
Just like with anything, there are two sides to utilizing Web 2.0. Some people are unsure if teachers and educators are prepared to use the tools to the best of their ability. Incorporating a new style of learning is never easy, and there are people who hold this as their biggest concern. Not only does the technology need to be learnable, but it needs to be effective in teaching children all over the world.
What Is It and Why Do We Need It?
Web 2.0 technologies have arisen in conversation more often than not these past few years. This is because of the rapidly evolving world we live in and the inherent delay that education practices always seem to fall into. You may be asking, what does 2.0 mean? Well, it is referred to as 2.0 based on improvements and changes that have been implemented because of newer technologies and knowledge.
According to Wikipedia, Web 2.0 refers to “web applications that facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web”. A simpler way of saying this is that it refers to apps that encourage learning, sharing, and collaboration across the internet. Rather than just consuming the information we find (as we did with Web 1.0), we are using it as a resource to improve skills and knowledge elsewhere.
Where we used to go to the library to read books, we are now capable of reading and writing books based on all the experience we have acquired. People are more inclined to be content creators and active participants on the internet rather than mere observers. The internet, which was once just a medium of sharing information, has become a platform to collaborate and share ideas. Web 2.0 is considered a social revolution in this sense.
If you have ever used Facebook or Instagram, read a blog, used Wikipedia to research something, listened to a podcast, or anything along these lines, you have been an active participant in Web 2.0. There are more applications that allow users to publish content and create networks of similar minded people. Therefore, some people encourage that we fully embrace it for our students.
The ability to use tags or keywords to find content and collectively categorize information in a blink of an eye is the ease that some people want to bring into the world of education. Web 2.0 tools allow for openness, collaboration, sharing, a hub of microcontent, social networking, and more.
Web 2.0 in Teaching
According to Brown & Adler, Web 2.0 technologies have “blurred the line between producers and consumers of content and have shifted attention from access to information toward access to other people”. The introduction to newer ways of learning and sharing information encourages students to remix and reuse resources across the web as well as create new knowledge based on all that they have learned.
The problem of passive learning has affected teaching spaces across the world, but with Web 2.0, students are more apt to take an active role in their learning. The environment of a classroom can shift from students listening to lectures from a teacher to interacting and participating in the lesson plans for the day themselves. This has the potential to change the whole idea of school and learning.
A concern that has been consistent in schools since the beginning of time is holding the attention of students. Even if your entire attention is directed towards the instructor at the front of the class, you cannot guarantee that your attention may not drift every so often. This problem is solved with Web 2.0 tools. Content consumption is replaced with content authorization in which learning is created.
A main component of incorporating the concept of Web 2.0 in teaching is participatory culture. These tools provide ample opportunities for students to collaborate with one another, the teachers, professionals, and everyone else on the internet who has knowledge on the subject matter. This creates an innovative way of learning where you are not limited to information coming from only one source.
Students can also be driven towards communities that allow them to learn beyond the classroom, practicing the field through peer-based learning and productive inquiry. This leads to authentic, real world learning communities that result in extensive information intake.
Web 2.0 also facilitates personalized learning, creating a safe learning space for each student. Students are better able to choose their preferred way of receiving information so that they can learn to the best of their ability. This way, anyone can learn in diverse contexts that fit him or her personally.
Benefits of Using Web 2.0
There are a multitude of benefits surrounding increased and effective usage of Web 2.0 tools for students. A few specific advantages are the aspects of collaboration and interaction that encourage deeper, more meaningful communication. There is an increase in creation and knowledge. With Web 2.0 comes a flexibility and ease of use that cannot be guaranteed with other learning tools. Lastly, students have been found to improve their technology and writing skills.
When it comes to collaboration, interaction, and communication, many students have attested to the community that forms because of Web 2.0 technologies. Resource sharing is a key point to making this happen. One student can have a piece of information from an internet source but may need another piece from a student across the classroom who gathered his or her information in a similar way, to formulate it into a whole and bring sense to it.
There is a better sense of connectivity, which provides the opportunity to access the entire world’s vault of information. Reports have shown that there is also a reduction in distance between teacher and student. Teachers are typically thrilled at their students taking a front seat perspective to their learning. Not only do Web 2.0 tools increase productivity, but they also encourage learning as a more social process.
In terms of flexibility and ease of use, many students have reported that Web 2.0 tools do not require a high level of technical skills and they enjoyed adapting along with the new technology. For those who are concerned with the integration of these new tools, students are usually more capable than some may believe when it comes to adjusting to change.
Web 2.0 has also improved students’ proficiency in writing and applying technology to their work. This is useful if you look at how the world is evolving. Technology is becoming a staple of life and preparing students to enter this world should be a priority.
Disadvantages of Web 2.0
Though Web 2.0 comes along with many advantages and benefits for students, there are a few drawbacks that cannot be ignored. There have been reports of unease with the openness of Web 2.0, various technical problems, and the factor of time consumption. Just like with anything, when a new method or approach is introduced to an environment that has been, for the most part, unchanging, there will most likely be a few difficulties.
The openness of Web 2.0 technologies has incited discomfort with usage and reluctance to participate in classroom activities. Some students may not feel comfortable with the public nature of collaborating with these newer tools, preferring the one-on-one interaction between teacher and student.
Another complaint is the technical problems that have come along with implementing this new technology in schools. Some teachers and students are not well equipped to handle changes like these, leading to unwillingness to learn. This can cause more problems than not. Having to completely change a traditional way of teaching can be a challenge.
Coupled with the technical problems is how time-consuming learning and managing the new technology can be. If someone is not all in on trying to utilize Web 2.0 to the fullest, it may result in a lack of enthusiasm that translates from the instructor or educator to students. Many argue that this takes away much needed time from the subject matter that needs to be taught within a given amount of time.
Tips for Using Web 2.0
With every new technology there comes a hesitancy due to the unknown nature of it. This is especially evident when attempting to introduce something new to classrooms across the country. Because of this, there are a few critical guidelines and strategies that can assist any educator when he wants to introduce a new technology to his students.
You should not introduce too many new technologies to your students in one clump of time. This can be overwhelming and unhelpful for students who typically take longer to adapt to things. It can also cause too much time to be allocated to learning these new technologies rather than dedicating that time to the content that needs to be learned. For example, if you were to introduce multiple Web 2.0 technologies to a batch of 30 students in one semester, it will be difficult keeping up with each of their progress while also assisting them with the material.
Another tip is to not use multiple technologies that all do the same thing or work to perform the same function. This can be counterproductive and a waste of valuable time. It is recommended to not introduce similar applications because of the management problems the students may run into. Just one application requires email accounts and forums dedicated to that particular application, so having too much on one plate would be overwhelming and useless.
It is best to keep in mind the lives of your students. Usually, school is not the only thing that they are focused on. They may also have extracurricular activities, jobs, and family and social obligations. Web 2.0 technologies are meant to minimize the stress of school and turn it into an environment that encourages personalized learning methods so that students may grow and learn better.
It is recommended to use learner-centered instructional methods. Technology alone cannot facilitate effective and healthy learning. This is why creating learning environments that encourage students’ favorite and most preferred method of learning is crucial to the success of the Web 2.0 movement. For example, if you are doing math one day, you would gravitate to a Web 2.0 calculator rather than a blog to collaborate.
Students have expressed that they enjoy using a wiki for writing projects that teeter towards collaboration. They would use a blog as a collaborative space for reflection beyond personal journals. A social bookmarking site would be used to share resources amongst students and their teachers. Sites like YouTube or platforms like Spotify Podcasts would be used to collaborate for a creative project.
In knowing which Web 2.0 tools to use and for what, an evident improvement can be seen with your classroom energy and willingness to learn. But it is critical to work effectively with the tools rather than throw them at students and expect them to reap the benefits immediately. Introducing Web 2.0 technologies to learning and teaching environments can be revolutionary if executed in the correct way.
We are in the 21 st century, and it is safe to say that the technology we yield here is far greater than ever before. Being able to hold your entire life in a phone that fits the palm of your hand was unheard of a few short years ago.
Web development and branding have become crucial elements that work hand-in-hand in the online world, and they are the first steps in enhancing online teaching platforms. As Web 2.0 becomes a more prominent concept, the need to keep up with current trends also becomes imperative. Camberlion provides resources to propel the branding and web development of its clients so that they may compete in an ever-changing internet world.
There are some that argue implementing more technology in schools lessens the ability to learn effectively and honestly. Others claim that technology is so easily accessible, that learning needs to adapt along with it so that we are using our resources to the best of our abilities. With the future of our children’s education at stake, evaluating whether Web 2.0 tools are the right route to take is a crucial conversation to have.