few months ago; I could not have explained Web2.0. If you had asked me to make an educated guess I might have said that it was new web development software or that it might possibly have something to do with a social network. If you had asked me how it would impact teaching and learning in the classroom – I might have struggled to give an intelligent answer – Shock!
My ignorance has begun to fade with experiences associated with the IDT course I am taking at U of M. As a result, I can converse with somewhat, if not semi, intelligence on the topics of wikis, blogs, web-based tools, office suites, social bookmarking sites and widgets. Best of all, I feel confident enough to blog about Web2.0.
Just a few years ago, individuals uploaded information to the Web and the public retrieved information when it was needed – this is what we call Web1.0, or information retrieval. In today’s Web2.0 world, individuals not only upload information to the Web but also share information and collaborate freely. This is called the Read Write Web or Web2.0.
Today, individuals interested in collaborating on a particular topic are creating wikis to encourage others to contribute to and edit the content of a site (a favorite for teachers and students). In addition, bloggers who want to promote dialogue and feed back and are allowing readers to leave public comments. In order to pool and share Internet resources, people with similar professional backgrounds or hobbies are also forming and joining groups in social networks and in social bookmarking sites like Diigo or Del.icio.us. Furthermore, professionals and students are using web-based office suites like Google Docs or Zoho to peer edit papers and share data. The examples of Web2.0 technologies are growing daily. I have had the opportunity to try a few and will review some of my favorites here.
For starters, I have developed this blog and AestheTECH using a web-based developer called Weebly. Aside from being completely FREE, the simplicity of the development tool is its best feature. I would not hesitate to recommend it to a teacher (or anyone for that matter) to create his or her first web page. The drag and drop elements allow the user to add text and titles, video, audio, RSS feed and other widgets – all with out having to know how any of it works. The beauty is that really cool elements “just show up” on your page – Thanks for the catch phrase Dr. Grant.
Social bookmarking is also an awesome technology. I recently joined Diigo because I liked the idea of accessing my “favorites” from any computer. What I realized however, is that Diigo is much more than a place holder for web page links. Diigo also provides tools to highlight web page text, add sticky notes and share your favorite pages with the general public or with a particular group. In Diigo, group members and friends also have the ability to leave comments for each other.
Furthermore, social and professional networks provide excellent avenues for professionals or hobbyists to collaborate, discuss and share information. This spring, I joined Art Education2.0, a social network developed by Craig Roland on Ning. The entire purpose of Art Education2.0 is to bring together art educators, particularly those who have a passion for new technology. Members include veteran art teachers, beginning teachers, and individuals with a passion for the arts. With the current membership at 1,450 there are more answers, resources and opportunities to collaborate than I can begin to count. The benefits of this type of membership are amazing: I have a question, I just ask and a community of experts is available to guide me. If I find a new tool, source of information, or great lesson plan, I can post the information and make it available to others in the group. Wow, for a teacher who is usually the only one in her content area in the entire building (talk about feeling isolated) Art Education2.0 provides an amazing amount of information and support. A few years ago, I never would have thought that I would have ready access to a community of other art educators from around the world.
Finally, there are really fun tools out there that are free and fun to use for students as well as teachers. Anyone can create slideshows in Zoho, Google Docs, or Slideshare and embed the slideshow directly into a webpage, email or document. If it is news you want, it is simple to embed your favorite news casts or blogs directly into the homepage of your browser using RSS feed (and you don’t even have to know what RSS means): check out iGoogle. Two of my most recent favorite freebees are Toondoo and Mr. Piccasso Head. Here is an appropriate example from Toondoo (click bottom right corner to view).
In summary, it seems that developers and the public have decided that the benefits of sharing information far out weigh the benefit of receiving 100% credit. Remember the saying; “Two heads are better than one?” With the current Web2.0 technologies, we have thousands if not millions of heads collaborating – all for the purpose of improving information, software and technology. New ideas tend to surface when debate and collaboration take place and Web2.0 makes it possible to collaborate with anyone, anywhere, any time about anything – usually for free. Pretty cool.
I don’t know about you, but my brain is bursting with ideas for using Web2.0 technologies in my classroom this fall. Visit Web2.0 in Art. if you would like to read more. Feel free to leave comments and contribute art lessons incorporating new technology. If you have a lesson you like me to add, send me an email and I will be happy to include it, giving you credit - of course!