Reflecting on the past year, as one usually does when the old year ends, it was time to write up some of the observations that have been made on the impact of web 2.0 in the classroom. Associated with this are some of the highlights experienced in both teaching and learning.
The school year started in its usual manner, with the complication that I had lost an accounting class (I was devastated at the notion as I love teaching accounting) so instead, and as we are a prep to year 12 school, I picked up grade 3/4 and 6 IT. IT classes commenced and progressed as usual, with more advanced skills in using MS Word and Excel being taught to the higher levels and basic skills to the younger levels. Some Dreamweaver, Flash and other multi media software skills also commenced.
……Enter the world of web 2.0 in June 2007…….
My classrooms changed, necessary skills taught took on a different nature, our classroom walls started ‘crumbling ‘ before our eys, software types were now often online and motivational levels increased dramatically. Below, is a summary of some of the impacts noted.
Del.icio.us started the web 2.0 journey. To our surprise and delight, google picked up one of the grade 6 girl’s page and had it on their first page when a search was made on “Penshurst and volcanoes”. This really motivated students and boosted personal confidence of those involved.
Our backyard blog was initially created with grade 6 students. Comments were made on their work by unkown people in the USA, Hawaii, Australia etc Suddenly, there was an authentic audience for their work, not just a teacher assessing assignment work. Excitement with, and pride in their own work increased amazingly. Motivation levels ran high and students were off taking digital photos of their backyards or scanning existing photos into their blogs. Parents and community members also became involved.
- Year 9 boys, (our most difficult to motivate group) actually leapt out of their seats to help experiment within our school, the use of skype. They were utterly engrossed for 110 minutes in helping our staff who had not used skype before, learn the processes.
Year 8 students, a rather ‘mottled lot’, also leapt out of their seats period 5 on a Friday, and as a group and yet quite independently of my assistance, produced clips to create a video to show those ‘Los Angeles’ kids what ‘footy’ was to the Aussies.
I am harrassed and almost “bullied” at various times as I walk down the corroidor by students, often students who normally take little interest in school work or who rarely produce work of high quality or who suffer low self esteem, wanting to know if I have put their blogs, movies etc online yet. I even get queried when I am out in the community!!!
- Learning from students who are 9 and 10 years old!!!! When we got our webkinz Patch, my grade 3 and 4 students worked with me as a class, using a datashow and website projection, on getting started with our virtual world. They were actually teaching me even though they had no experience in virtual worlds, themselves. These, surely are our digital natives.
- The walls of our classrooms have started to crumble, so students are talking, via vokis and wikis to students in other countries and producing videos of our school, area, farms, towns etc and sharing them via a ning website with those students. We have ‘seen’ inside the walls of various other global classrooms and homes, sheds and backyards. No textbook could have the same impact.
Skype will continue to have an amazing impact on our classroom walls in 2008. When we started video conferencing with Korea, we simply asked questions of each other in the 50 minute blocks but by the fifth day, we were showing them vegemite, cricket demonstrations, aussie meat pies, blue tongue lizards, and in turn, we saw a snow clad school yard, complete with man sweeping away the snow from the school paths, Korean mobile phones/technology and Korean school uniforms. This is such powerful learning, despite the language barriers.
Virtual and online teamwork with other enthausiastic staff in other countries is now the norm. No longer am I a lone teacher in a reasonably remote rural school, struggling to keep up with the latest in technology but am able to update and communicate with global colleagues via blogs, social networks and ning sites. Mailing lists have also been great.
Grade 6 and year 7 students show no hestitation in emailing me either for advice or thanks for uploading their work or getting them involved in projects. I even got emails when I was on long service leave in Europe from grade 6 girls, asking for help with their video editing software and I was able to duly respond overnight, to allow them to continue on.
A renewed excitement and revigoration has returned to the classrooms with an overlap into other subject or class areas. Other staff are showing and interest and starting to come on board and it is hoped that this will continue and expand into 2008!
A very happy web year 2.0 you all!