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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Week 5: Web 2.0 (Respond by Friday, July 20th)

The Internet and how we use it is experiencing a very exciting revolution with the advent of Web 2.0. In the beginning, users would come to the Internet to perform keyword searches and retrieve information from various sites. We certainly still do that but there has been a growing change in the way we access information and our role as contributors of that information. We now have the ability to subscribe to websites, blogs, podcasts and much more so that new information is fed to us rather than us having to go find it. There are also many different ways for us to add content to the Internet through Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts, digital videos (think YouTube), photo sharing (Flickr, BubbleShare) social network sites like MySpace and Facebook and much more. In fact, you can even create your very own social network with a tool like Ning. Web 2.0 is all about this idea of user generated content and can be thought of as the Read/Write Web whereby we as the users of the web can both read content and then write and contribute new content. I follow a blog called the Read/Write Web, which reports and comments on a variety of different new Web 2.0 type tools that are constantly becoming available online. This blog doesn't have an education specific focus but I often find that the tools discussed could certainly have a use in the k-12 classroom. I have included a video at the end of this posting that I think does a great job of looking at the evolution of the Internet. It gets a little bogged down in the middle with information about HTML coding but I think the overall message is right on point. As you watch the video (if it doesn't play properly you can access it directly through YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE) I want you to think about what implications this has for your students and your approach to using technology. For instance, before we had Web 2.0 capabilities we could have our students create concept maps in Kidspiration or Inspiration to demonstrate their understanding about a particular content area. Now using a tool like Mindomo we can have our students collaboratively create a concept map with students (and content experts) from outside our classroom and that map can be shared online for others to see, comment on, edit and learn from. We are able to move beyond just having pen pals or e-pals to having learning pals and online mentors that can help contribute to our understanding of different subjects. However, just because we have this capability doesn't mean we have a clear understanding of how to harness it and use it to create effective learning experiences for our students. What ideas, concerns, suggestions and thoughts do you have on taking advantage of the read/write nature of the net and all the tools (mostly free) that are available to you and your students.

Another issue that arises with the read/write nature of the web is that we have to be even more careful about looking at sites and their respective content and determining their credibility. I always cringe a bit when I hear someone say, "I looked up the information on Wikipedia." My first response is, "Did you bother to cross check your information with any other source?" It can be a lot harder to determine who the author of online content really is and we need to make sure our students are aware of this. What do you think we can do to insure that kids are being diligent in their online research?

Finally, I want to touch on the issue of convincing the tech coordinators, media specialists and other technology gate keepers in your respective buildings and districts to allow access to these powerful read/write tools. I know this issue has been discussed a lot in your 501 class, for those of you taking that class, but I feel it should be revisited here as well. I think it is very important that we make a clear case for the educational benefit of using these tools when we ask for permission to make them available to our students. I have heard about the troubles some of you have had in getting new technology into your classroom but I would like to hear about your success stories now. What approach or approaches have worked for you to get new technology approved, new websites unlocked and new tools available for your students?

11 comments:

Miss Burke said...

I think the read/write collaboration tools are great! Students learn from teachers as well as each other. I think that by allowing students to work collaboratively on a project, such as a mind map, the students will actually learn more. The students will care more about their work because they will be contributing their thoughts and ideas to the entire class, and we all know that no student wants to be the person that was wrong or that didn’t do enough work. My only concern with read/write collaboration is that some students (the high-flyers) may do all of the work and the rest of the students have nothing left to do. My other concern is that the low-end students will just listen, read, or type whatever someone else tells them. I am afraid they would just believe everything and not question whether the content is wrong or right.

Online researching is done a lot in my school. Our Media Specialist created a sheet for students to fill out before they are able to gather any information from a website. The worksheet asks for the author and the date the website was last updated. There is also a spot to list other websites that contain the same information to cross check the content. This sheet worked in the beginning of the year, however, as the year went on some students just filled out the sheet at the end of the hour rather than filling it out while they were working through the websites. If you model how to look for the copyright date or the date the page was last updated then the students will have a general idea about where this type of information can be found and hopefully this process will become routine. I also think the teacher should do a demonstration of how anyone can put anything on a website whether it is true or not. For instance, I would create a website and fill it with wrong information. Then I would model to the class by actually going to Google and entering a keyword search so my website comes up. I would have the students read the website and ask them what is wrong with it, and then I would show them the author. Hopefully this technique will open their eyes and make them see that they need to check the credibility of every website.

For the most part all of our websites are open for teacher and student use, so I am lucky in that respect. As an undergrad, I used to get ideas for lessons from a program called EdHelper. Some information is free, but you can buy a subscription and have access to the entire site. When I first got my job I mentioned EdHelper to a few teachers who had never heard of it before and they were very interested. For this reason, I discussed the possibility of obtaining a subscription to EdHelper with the Media Specialist. I showed her a list of teachers that were interested and would use EdHelper, so she sent out a mass email asking how many people would be interested in using EdHelper if the subscription was purchased and sure enough we all had passwords two weeks later. I find that numbers speak louder than words sometimes and if you have a lot of other teachers to back you up, your chances of getting a piece of technology are higher.

Mrs. Rizzo said...

I really enjoyed the video. The internet and technology in general has become SO global. It’s as if a class in Japan is in the room next door. We have such a unique opportunity to open the eyes of our students to the world with the click of a button. Our understanding and ability to utilize this is still in a growing phase. We need to look into the training available and utilize it, not just a few of us, ALL of us. Our school districts have become more like businesses, very competitive. If we want to stay ahead, we need to find ways to integrate technology, and give support to those who may still be technologically challenged. As far as ideas in taking advantage of read/write on the net, I’m not sure I have many ideas, but perhaps questions I might ask in considering these tools.
I think we as teachers need a very clear understanding of the tool(s) we choose to use with students. Will sites we visit contain advertising? Do students need to give personal information in order to use some of the tools available? (I would not use a site/tool that asked this of students) Will the district we work in approve access? Is their support when questions arise (from district and site)? Do students have the ability to access these tools from home? Is it safe? How can we better prepare parents?
In order to be sure students are diligent in their online research, I believe they need some sort of foundation from which to act upon. If a student is doing a research project on a historical figure, for instance, they need to know what resources are acceptable. Students need to know how to search a library catalog, and find information in print as well as they can click a button on a computer. They need to be made aware that the internet, although full of valid information, has information that is not always accurate. Understanding how to seek out resources in print, which seems to remain a more acceptable form and easy to verify, is important in the quest for accurate information. In looking at Wikipedia, I find that students can cross-reference the sources by simply viewing some of the notes and references at the end of articles. I notice, too, that many references are made from print (books, scholarly journals, news articles, etc...).
In the discussion that went on in EDT501, this week, a classmate suggested monitoring each computer in a lab to be aware of what each student is looking at. He said the software his school uses is called VISION. I think this is a great way to keep up with what sources students are using on the internet. Reminding students to check more than one resource to see if facts line up is also important. If a student is doing any type of research project, it may be a good idea to suggest or require them to cite references from not only internet, but print. Show them how to search online to find references in print, if they cannot find something at the local library. Most libraries offer online catalogs, which enables students to seek out information they may have not been able to find otherwise.
As far as approaches to getting new tools available for students, I have not succeeded with that. I have been sharing information with my administrators and tech. director about various tools I have found and the benefits they may offer our students, but that’s about it at this point. I have found, especially this past year, that email is a wonderful thing. As a result of my emailing parents, I have met more parents this year than any year in my teaching career. Our parent/teacher conferences were AMAZING during the spring. Usually, this time of year is pretty low, as far as parental attendance. I attribute the success of parents attending conferences to the fact that so many of them email me. I am very good at responding quickly, and find it very convenient. I am able to keep more parents informed in a smaller amount of time. The emailing has also allowed me to “cover” myself when conflict arises. I save EVERYTHING. I have a file for parent communication on my email account and I print emails and save the copy in a parent folder (with other types of communication like notes and phone calls). This way, I am able to refer to a conversation more accurately. Parents have felt more comfortable when meeting with us face-to-face, as they have already had dialogue with us through email. We have ZANGLE in our district and will be going to Parent Connect, which allows parents instant access to their children’s grades. I think this will prove successful as it will keep parents very informed and up to date their children’s academics, behavior, and attendance. This tool has also allowed me to put the responsibility of being prepared in the students hands. I post grades and missing assignments weekly. Students are made aware of the fact that this information is there for them to remedy any issues so their grades stay up. They make the choice as to whether or not they will manage successful in my class. Parents are very supportive of this, as well.

Ahlam said...

The video was really fun to watch. We, as teachers, need to make sure we are preparing our students for the future. We need to be looking for technological tools that will support our curriculum. I believe that the read/write nature of the net can be both positive as well as negative. I think that students will learn a lot from one another. They will be exposed to other people's work and ideas. I do believe that a lot of the sites that I might want to have my students visit will be blocked. The school I worked at made it frustrating for me to show a digital video because almost all videos were blocked. Also, certain websites are blocked, especially the ones that have images (does not matter what it is). I understand that there needs to be precautions taken but certain websites need to looked at because not all of them are inappropriate.
All kids need to know the difference between a search and actual research. It is the teacher's job to teach the student what appropriate and acceptable research looks like. I would model for my students how to research a certain topic. I will give them a chance to practice by giving them a topic to research and list 10 facts that they learned about it as well as their sources. I think it will be ideal if time was available to sit with individual students as we go over their facts and sources on the web while the other kids were busy with other work. I would show them examples of material that is false and still put up on the internet.
As I have mentioned before, this was my first year teaching. I didn't really suggest for any sites to be unlocked or approved. However, I did speak with the principal, who I knew from before, and mention a few things I have been learning in my technology classes. She seemed very interested and told me she might implement something to do with technology in the school for next year. In the beginning of June she asked me and the computer teacher to attend a technology summer camp. We all attended and it was about ways of using different technological tools. It was very interesting and we all learned a lot. Next year, we three will be presenting to our colleagues about what we learned. We will also be meeting to discuss ways in which we can use certain tools in our classrooms. I'm happy because this is a step in the right direction.

Anya said...

As with any new wave of technology, students need to be properly introduced to what the technology is. Students need to know how the technology can be used, educationally, to share, learn, and help others. The teacher should give model examples of how other children use Web 2.0. A classroom blog where groups of students create a blog for that group, to be mediated by the teacher, would be a good starting point in teaching students the read and write nature of the Internet.
It also gives students power in authorship and creation of new websites or products they themselves created. Students will think deeper about what they want to put on a website when they realize that it can be seen by all. This will lead back to the writing process on paper. I’m sure that this is comforting to people who view technology as an easy faster way to get out of the editing part of the writing process (spell check, grammar, etc.). Students who create anything on the web will not only have to worry about grammar and spelling, but they will have to think of how well their product is put together. If it is a complete thought or if there is a clear progression from one point to another.
Web 2.0 allows the child to receive help and feedback from others. Some students who do not have help at home may put something on a blog, like a homework question or project and receive help from anybody who is willing to help. This opens the door to on-line tutors and on-line homework helpers.
Of course, like the video suggested, with the onset of millions and millions of these new Web 2.0 sites, who will be the person to approve or monitor sites that are not ethical to the public? Will there be new censorship laws on what you can and cannot create on the web? How will the laws be enforced, with HTML code? You would think that if you were putting it on the web for all to see that you would be considerate of others. We know that this is not true with some of the gossip blogs and Youtube videos that are being produced and uploaded.
In the case of on-line research, children need to be taught about what sources are reputable and what sources are not. When I was in middle and high school, my teachers let me know what kinds of sources were not acceptable for papers or projects. I would do the same with on-line resources. I may suggest that they look for journals or articles or give them a search engine that would only give them reputable sources. In light of the Wikipedia author scandal, I would not suggest my students to use that source as a reference. It may give them a general description of what they are looking for, but it should only be a springboard to find other resources.
Taking these classes has opened my eyes to many tools and applications that I can take back to my school to suggest to my colleagues and administration. Assessing the resources that we have at our school, my focus is to attain the technological tools that would enhance our lessons through grant writing and research. Staying current with what is new and available, to create a technology integrated environment, is my focus. Many of my colleagues feel “technologically stagnant” because of this, but I would love to suggest blogging and easy website creation. Our students need to be able to compete in the world of technology.

Ms. Borsick (Goddard) said...

As with the other four comments, I too, enjoyed the video. I also agree that our students need to know and understand what technology is out there and how to use it appropriately and as teachers we need to monitor and support them. As with many of the learning/teaching tools out there, read/write has its pros and cons. It is time consuming to monitor and read the content ahead of time. But, as mentioned from the others, read/write allows students, teachers, parents, and others, to comment and interact with the material. It can develop a sense of online community, like you're part of something "big".
At my school, we do not have textbooks. I am constantly searching for supporting material for science concepts, so you can imagine how much monitoring and filtering of text I have to do before I present material to my students. This process is not monitored by my school, they just "trust" that as teachers we make good decisions. And as far as students researching, there is no monitoring (that I know of) going on, unless the parent or teacher takes it upon themselves to develop some kind of system.
Our school is fairly new, so many of these kinks are being addressed as we learn and experience them as we go along and as more and more teachers expose themselves to what's out there.
I'm excited to incorporate many of the tools I've learned into my classroom and teaching, and I know my students will enjoy it, as well.

Sister Ghazala said...

With this burst of technological revolution, of course comes the responsibility upon us teachers to teach our students, how to use this advanced technology responsibly and benefit from it. The most important issue is the ability to sift through the sources and find the authentic or the correct information. Generally, when I have my students go on line for a research, I provide them with a list of websites. I think I will model them in class if I want them to do the search themselves. I will cross check material myself through several sites to help students understand the fact that every website does not give authentic information.
I am thrilled at the prospect of having my students use read and write tools. Last year I had my fourth graders do a story project in which ten pairs of students had to write ten chapters of a class chapter book. Then I wished I had some internet tool on which they could work and I would know who contributed to the story and how much and the students could follow up the chapters before working on their own. I had to give a lot of discussion and collaboration time, so that the story is coherent and flows well. Now I plan to use the same idea but now I know how to monitor the contribution and the students will also be able to see how the story is evolving. The collaboration can take place on line. My only concern is that the students who tend to not do the work and enjoy the luxury of a good partner for projects may end up doing it more because and also for the on-line research too they be take the first piece of information that pops up on the window. I don’t know yet how I am going to handle such students, when the work will be done on-line. Since, I am getting the same group of students, I know there are few who are at the low-end I may have these students e-mail their part of the work to me as well. I don’t know how practical it will be. If it is just three to four students, it should not be a problem.
As for suggesting technical improvements in the building, we don’t even have a computer lab up till now, so I think I will be pretty much on my own. There is a small computer lab in the middle school, I may request to be included in the schedule to visit the lab, may be twice a week. Though I know I will have my students do their work in class on the computers we have in class. There is one improvement, which is we are going to go wireless, so at least I will be able to have my students participate in the bogging and other similar activities at school.
I plan to have a computer drive for 3-5 grades students to increase the number of computers at school. I am a part of a private school, which has its limitations.

Ms. Stiles said...

I think Web 2.0 has opened the door to so many possibilities. It enables the classroom teachers to create an environment that reaches all areas of the global. Just as the world is global so can the classroom. Students can now video conference with students from other schools all around the world. They can collaborate just as they would in the “real world.” Our job as educators is to prepare our students for the global economy and now with the capabilities of Web 2.0 that is possible.

I have to agree about the use of Wikipedia, when researching a project. When I was discussing with my family about my students research project and some of them using Wikipedia, my brother stopped me. He began to tell me how the website can be unreliable. He, being a computer programmer, was aware of the unreliability of Wikipedia too. I assured him that they had to check their facts elsewhere before committing it to their project. He was relieved to hear that. Not too long after this discussion I heard my students were doing some project with their computer teacher. She was having them use Wikipedia as their source of information. I was a little upset to hear this, especially coming from a “computer teacher.”

To help remedy a situation like this one I think it is imperative that students be taught that just because it says so on one website doesn’t make it true! They should learn the skills of always double checking their information with other sources to make sure it is reasonable. Another skill students should have is to be able to recognize the good sources from the unreliable ones. They should look into what type of site is it, who runs it and what is the purpose of the site.

I’ve probably said this before but at my school we have a wonderful librarian who fortunately for us has a technology degree. She is always up on the latest technology and is constantly writing grants to get us new equipment! Towards the end of the year she was able to acquire some Lego robotics kits. She was going to create a club for students interested in learning how to build and program a robot. Unfortunately the time fell short and she was unable to do so. However I know she is planning on trying it this year. She is also planning on sitting down with the different grade level teams and trying to find ways we can incorporate technology to enhance the curriculum. She has been anxious to find a place to tie in Google Earth for the fifth grade. I’m very exciting about the next school year because with my new knowledge and her vast knowledge of technology, I’m sure we’ll be able to create some meaningful lessons for the students!

Jeff Bouwman said...

What's up everyone, it's about 10:30 Friday night, running a little late this week. Been so busy with EDT 501, I almost forgot-just kidding. I've never heard the Internet 2.0, so this is new to me. My first thought was "Why? What was wrong with the way it was before?" Which is funny because the article we read last week on "What is Technology Integration?" states that it is human nature to not like change. When I first looked at Podcasts, Blogs, and Wikis I asked "Why?" Now I think they are kind of cool! I'm sure the students would love to have a chance to contribute to a more active Internet. I'd like to show them how to contribute first by using my classroom blog. Then I might have them go out and find another blog on their own to contribute to. I would ask them for a little write up on the experience. Next, I would go to Podcasting. I don't know about Wikis in fourth grade, I think it is a little too much. I also like the idea of creating concept maps with other students. I've got a good buddy who teaches fourth grade in Taylor, maybe I can talk him into working on a web created content map. Or if any one else is teaching fourth grade too, look me up! My class will work with you!

The only thing I don't like about the idea of web 2.0, is the credibility issue. This makes you have to check your facts more. When you are a college student that only loves to use Internet for resources, this could make it a little tough :)! I guess you just have to ask yourself, does this look legit before you cite.

In order to go around the steal curtain that is the Gibraltar Internet blocker, I think I have to write a request to the High School Principal. I have to explain what I'm doing and provide an address for him to check it out. I don't see it being a big deal. I’m going to take a look at some of the resources that are posted on this blog. Some of them sound pretty interesting.

ftillmn said...

Well after watching the video and thinking about my response, the first word that comes to mind is "time" and "collaboration". I think the read/write tools are a great source for students to collaborate with others. I am concerned, however, on it being successful without the full coorperation of the schools'Technology Coordinator/Teacher.

Of course, students would enjoy the idea of communicating and sharing their ideas with others. I think it would offer great benefits to them and strengthen their ability to work with others in a respectable manner. I only see the issue of time teaching students how to use it and perhaps noncooperation from the tech. person as primary hinderances from this idea being a success.

Although I'm not in a classroom, in my opinion, teaching with technology would be a lot more successful if it were part of the curriculum for the school rather than one or two people trying to embrace new ways of conveying information. If it were part of the curriculum, the technology instructor would anticipate being asked to show students different ways to use these services. This would perhaps alleviate a lot of the tensions that many have discussed. I'm sure that this is all more than a notion.


But to answer your questions, I believe these tools would tremendously benefit students. Aside from commenting a particular subject, students can also be strengthened in the areas of grammar, team work, respect, honesty and integrity of work, etc. It would also give teachers an opportunity to determine the level of comprehension the students had by observing their entries.

Jenn Barczyk said...

I am very excited to begin using the free read/write tools with my classes. I think I will use it for both study skills and English. In study skills, they can use Mindomo to learn about the value of concept mapping and social interaction, even if it is on the Internet. I will also use Zoho as a tool for revision and peer collaboration when they are working on papers for other classes. For my Lang/Lit students I would use these programs similarly.

I think that reviewing criteria for valid online sources is very important for research, and would insist students analyze their sources. This is also where a Wiki could be useful, because students could add sites they found valid, and others could reference them later. In this way, students would be building their own reference list, and be certain that the material is good. One way to help ensure they are crosschecking, is to have students crosscheck a few sites using worksheets, or Zoho, to guide them through the analysis process. Beside each link to a website on the wiki, students can add links to their analyses.

Convincing the gatekeepers to let us through is going to be very difficult. However, I think that my new administration is interested in technology so I could certainly ask for help. We are changing over to trimesters in two years, and all of next year’s Professional Development is geared toward our transition. I am going to suggest using Zoho for note taking, and hopefully my administrator will like the idea. Likewise, we could begin a Wiki that cites our concerns, questions, answers, and ideas for our transition. If I can convince my administration to use these tools in regular meetings, then teachers and “Gatekeepers” may be less frightened to use them with students. I haven’t yet been able to get new technology approved, and no new tools approved. Hopefully, with our new administration technology integration will be a much easier endeavor.

Scott Just said...

The free nature of the tools offered in Web 2.0 amaze me that they are free. It is all being given away on the hopes that we, are users, will click an ad bar. Between wikis, blogs, flickr and the rest we are again at the point where “traditional” teachers give up control and let the student prove and show what they know. All of these tools require the student to actively create some product. Wikis can be used as an online classroom resource, with students adding content daily. Blogs as journals that develop over time, while flickr offers itself as a resource for clip art and information tool by itself. Using the map in Flickr, students can put pictures on the world where it happened, and then using the note feature students can add details to specific elements of that image. All text based, having students write without writing being the focus.
My primary concern is getting 25-30 students all the passwords and log-ins that will be required. Let alone teaching a few so they can teach the rest how to long on. Content and implementation will have stumbling blocks but I we will push through.
The issues of authorship, copyright, due diligence as it relates to web research all intrinsic in the nature of web 2.0, as the video points out. We are transitioning beyond reading content to creating it, perpetually. Works on Web 2.0 are not to be “complete” they will always be in a state of flux. That flux is what gets most digital immigrants upset. As students create and edit their own blogs and wikis they will see the strengths and weaknesses of them; when they read a poor entry and correct it. By seeing and using the tool within the room students will, through prompting students extrapolate their experience to other sources, i.e. Wikipedia. Realizing that more than one source may be required for most topics to avoid false information. Students should also be aware that newer events on open source references are more likely to change. As time passes edits decrease and a more accurate enter takes shape. This also opens a door to discuss internet vandalism and what the class should do about it.

Getting new tools and websites is ongoing for me. Last week I was called in to sign my year end review, something that was off the radar. While meeting with my principal I asked if I could get the SmartBoard. She said “Take it, all it does is sit in that head end room”. She warned that once I get it up and running others may want it but she said “Claim it for yourself and use it”. I moved it into my room and locked the door. Once I get caught up, I will go back to school and address the issues the board has, failure to align properly.
Getting websites unlocked is another issue. I have shown my wikispace, which has embedded YouTube videos, to my mentor Linda, who is also the president of the union. She loved the videos but was upset when I said we couldn’t see them at school. Linda mentioned the media teacher at the high school was complaining about YouTube being locked out but she (Linda) didn’t understand what that is. By showing Linda excellent fourth grade science videos, that we cannot use, the trouble of our district network become apparent.
Integrating transparent technology into daily instruction and help others to use it, results in everyone seeing the technology as a cornerstone to the curriculum, not an add-on. Thus administrators and board members will realize the value of it and invest in new technology.