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Web 2.0 Tools for Education

Instructor: Erin Rowe

Erin is currently teaching English at a university in South Korea and has a Master's degree in Education.

Web 2.0 tools are an amazing asset for any classroom. In this technological age, it is important that teachers use all resources available to them to reach and engage their students. Web 2.0 tools are a great way to accomplish this.

Web 2.0 Tools

First, let's talk about what Web 2.0 tools actually are when used in an educational setting. Web 2.0 tools are tools of technology that allow teachers and students alike to create, collaborate, edit and share content on-line that is user-generated.

These can include tools for: presentation, research, collaboration, audio, video, slideshow, images, music, drawing, writing, organizing, mapping, quiz and test generation, file storage and web pages, and also tools for graphing and conversion. New tools are being developed all the time, so it is important to be informed about the newest trends in education in order to keep up with the technology that surrounds the lives of your students.

Using technology in your classroom can have many benefits for you as a teacher by supporting your teaching goals and increasing the learning capabilities of your students. Web 2.0 tools are becoming more prevalent in the classroom, but can seem daunting for teachers who are not confident in their technological ability. There's some good news though - these tools are generally designed to be extremely user-friendly. Even a novice can master them!

This text lesson will break the Web 2.0 tools into four groups:

  • Tools for the creation and support of a web-based learning environment
  • Tools for communication and the cultivation of relationships
  • Tools for collaboration
  • Tools for students to create

Web 2.0 Tools for the Creation and Support of a Web-based Learning Environment

There are tools available for teachers to create a virtual extension of their classroom that works to support and improve their instructional goals and provide a way to enrich the out-of-classroom experience of their students.

Virtual Learning Environments

A virtual learning environment (VLE) acts a virtual classroom that is password protected so only those involved with the particular class can join. These spaces allow the teacher and students to perform various tasks and functions. The teacher can use this web-based learning environment to provide interactive tasks for their students to complete, supply learning resources that stimulate student interest in a specified topic, act as a storage space for students to upload their work, track student progress, and also, act as a place for the students and teacher to discuss various topics.

There are many benefits to using a virtual learning environment. These include but are not limited to:

  • A classroom management tool - many VLEs have specific management tools built in. Student accounts allow students to submit work on-line. Automatic email and text messages within the system can be use to remind students of deadlines, field trips, and homework.
  • Quiz and test creation tools - some VLEs contain tools that allow for the creation of on-line quizzes and tests. Teachers can use these tools to monitor what students know and give students the opportunity to self-assess.
  • E-learning authoring tools - these tools allow teachers to create interactive learning materials and then save them on-line. Some examples include: interactive worksheets and quizzes that auto-grade and multimedia materials that reinforce teachers' lessons.

Some examples of Virtual Learning Environments are:

  • Schoology - winner of the CODiE Award 2016
  • Blackboard
  • Edmodo
  • GoKnow software (specifically for mobile devices)

Tools for Communication and the Cultivation of Relationships

Teachers can often experience a problem with communication in their classrooms. Maybe students are not raising their hands to answer questions, maybe they are not actively participating in classroom discussions, or maybe certain students lack the confidence to voice their opinions. These tools are focused on improving communication between teachers and students, students and their classmates, and teachers and parents in order to foster an open learning community.

Web 2.0 Tools for Communication

The very popular communication tool being used in classrooms right now are blogs. These online writing spaces are often included as a tool available in many virtual learning environments (VLE's). A common method used by teachers is to create a classroom blog as a shared space for members of the classroom community. The general aim of the classroom blog is to generate student discussion, often in response to a teacher-generated statement or question. This is a great way to give a voice to students who would otherwise be uncomfortable stating their opinions verbally in the classroom. Blogs can also be used to see what students already know and what their misconceptions are about a particular topic, to generate interest in an upcoming lesson, to provide a platform for student debate, and also to supply students with feedback from their classmates and teacher. There are also various tools available that will allow for students to create video messages that they can then upload.

Another way to promote communication using Web 2.0 tools is the use of a social networking site among the members of the learning community. For example, some teachers are using Twitter accounts to keep parents informed about classroom activities.

Some examples of communication tools are:

  • kikutext - allows the teacher to communicate with parents and students via text messaging.
  • Vialouge - a free, web based tool that will create video conversations.
  • Eyejot - a tool to create and send video messages from any web browser or mobile device.
  • Disqus - adds comments to a blog or a website.
  • OoVoo - a video conferencing tool that supports up to 12 people.

Tools for Collaboration

Project based learning can offer many challenges within the classroom. Working with diverse members of a team in a productive and supportive way are skills that translate directly to real life. Giving students the ability and means to work collaboratively is essential in any classroom setting.

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