Who knew that RSS feeds could do so much?!?
- Books. Read books with DailyLit. They will send sections to you each day via RSS feed.
- Word of the Day. Get a new vocabulary word sent to you every day with Dictionary.com.
- World News. One of the top news agencies offering world news brings it to you via RSS feed at Reuters.
Check out this list of 100 cool things you can do with them written by Alisa Miller.
If you’re not quite sure what an RSS feed is, watch this:
There’s an older article on the Edutopia website called ‘Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons Are Many‘. I love this quote:
“Effective technology integration is achieved when the use of technology is routine and transparent and when technology supports curricular goals.”
The comments are much more useful than the article, itself, in terms of how to actually implement this integration. Teachers share their successes, their concerns, and ideas for technology integration that can work for any subject and any grade.
A more recent reflection on this idea also comes from Edutopia, but from the esteemed authors of “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns”, Christensen and Horn. Their article reiterates this:
“The United States has spent more than $60 billion equipping schools with computers during the last two decades, but as countless studies and any routine observation reveal, the computers have not transformed the classroom… The key to transforming the classroom with technology is in how it is implemented.”
From this, from hearing Judy Harris speak at the Innovative Learning Convention, and from many other leaders in technology integration, the message is becoming very obvious and very loud. We need to reach a point where using technology in the classroom is as normal as using paper – no need to think about it, it’s just a given part of almost every lesson.
Try something new in your classroom today!
While visiting San Francisco, I had the pleasure of attending a spontaneous party – we were celebrating Weebly‘s 1,000,000th user!
A proud moment in the Weebly office
Not only is this a quality website-building tool that everyone can enjoy but, specifically, many teachers have found that it offers a very easy and streamlined solution for organizing their classrooms. Here are some examples:
A high school math site called Mrs. Tentoni’s Algebra II
A P.E. teacher’s site
A kindergarten teacher’s site, Mrs. Boggess’s Kindergarten Web Page
A friend of mine set up a Weebly page for her son’s class – the teacher and the other parents loved it so much, Camille made a screencast about classroom Weebly’s so that others could tap in to the power of this tool.
Check it out:
While I’ve been thinking about how teachers can put web 2.0 to work for them and their students, many other people have been, too. Just came across this post by Charles Nelson about “How to Use Blogs in the Classroom“, something I hadn’t mentioned in my previous posts.
He’s got some great links about ‘how to use blogs’ and ‘how not to use blogs’, as well as information about RSS feeds. Here’s a good summary:
“In a nutshell, the combination of blog writing and news feeds helps connect students to one another and to others outside the classroom, creating networks of learning that promote reading, writing, and critical thinking”.
Thank you to Maria Perifanou for bookmarking this to the Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group.
Also, if you’re not quite sure about blogging, here’s an entertaining introduction from the Common Craft guys:
As a former teacher, I know how hesitant we can all be when trying new things in the classroom. There’s always someone telling you why (shiny new object) is going to “improve” things even when, 9 times out of 10, those new things ended up creating more problems than they solved.
Not in the case of Web 2.0.
The power that certain tools like wikis, social networking sites, and group presentation software can give to teachers and their students is still unknown. Up until now, applications have already been created for ease-of-use, so some of them might *actually* make your life easier.
Here are some ideas for integrating some specific tools to promote collaboration, and some links to others who have good ideas or have even tried this integration already:
- Using a wiki: this can serve as a good ‘homepage’ for a course, but it can do so much more, too! I suggest creating assignments that will require students to add and review others’ work. The highest level of Bloom’s taxonomy is evaluation, and this is a very easy way to hit that mark and get students to think more deeply and broadly about what they’re learning.
- Using YouTube: have students post videos – skits, conversations, creative representaions of the material that they’re synthesizing, as well as post response videos and comments.
- Using Facebook: go beyond just creating a group for your class if it’s available; use a community-building application such as Courses or Schools.
- Yammer is a great tool for keeping members of a smaller group up-to-date on the progress of projects. Students can use this to delegate roles and ask each other question as they go.
- There are hundreds, if not thousands, of free tools out there – find what YOU feel comfortable using.
Here are some links to….um….links:
- – Larry Ferlazzo’s “101 Free Learning Tools”
- – Vicky Davis is finding new, cool things almost daily.
- – Rober Byrne’s Free Technology for Teachers blog
And here are some teachers who are reporting on their results:
– check out Fred Stutzman’s manuscript on how the ‘integration’ went in his class
– Dean Groom offers some tips for teachers who are ready to ‘jump in’ and reports on how integrating on-line tools helped the collaborative efforts for a group project.
Here are a few ideas about how to move closer to the goal of smoothly integrating web 2.0 with education:
- We need to reach a point where students don’t separate “academic” and “social” – the most powerful results will come from making education a social experience. If we can get students to really collaborate and engage themselves with others, without physical boundaries, they will have a much richer experience. (see Part1 below) Stutzman’s results are telling us something: we need a solid model for how we can fit these two worlds together seamlessly.
- We should approach a class full of learners as a community – sometimes this is obvious, in the case of small classes with intimate discussions, but even a lecture hall with 200 students has the potential to function as a collaborative effort.
- We need to use web 2.0 tools as they’re meant to be used – if you put an application on course management on Facebook, it might feel like “school” rather than socializing, and it might fail. If, instead, you put a community-building application up there, you may create a community of learners.
- Ideally, more educators will give this a shot, like Fred Stutzman. And, hopefully, they will be sharing their results. If we can work together (ahhh…web 2.0) to find a model where we get the results we’re looking for, we can harness the potential of these tools to revolutionize the way that our students learn and the skills and knowledge that they acquire over the course of their education.
Here’s a guy who’s trying great things:
Fred Stutzman, a teaching fellow at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science, is on the cutting edge of realizing the potential for integrating web 2.0 into instruction. He recently taught two semesters of “Online Social Networks”, a grad class where “students spent the semester using online social networks as a lens through which to examine social computing, computer-mediated communication, digital identity and representation, and human-computer interaction”.
His approach was to employ a Facebook group, YouTube videos for enrichment, a wiki for the course, and a Del.icio.us tag unique to the course to share bookmarks. At the end of the second semester, he compiled the results of the success of using these tools from reflection and from student surveys. Some of the findings were expected, but others were somewhat unforseen:
- The wiki: successfully used as a homepage for the course, but Stutzman was expecting more student input. In the end, he was basically the only one editing it.
- Del.icio.us: bookmarking websites to share with classmates was not used widely, but it was successful in that they compiled a list of 250 relevant links in just one semester.
- YouTube: as expected, the videos served as a good source of enrichment, but not much else.
- Facebook group: the mandatory participation in group discussions resulted in rich and high-quality dialogue, but there seemed to be a few issues with the actual integration of this social space with its academic application:
Stutzman realized that the students viewed the discussion board as an academic space, not a social space, and that they almost had to remind themselves to visit it once a week. Obviously, it would be ideal to have students doing this more regularly, out of interest and engagement – how can we make this happen?
Also, some of the students seemed to begrudge using a personal/social space for academic purposes – why do some students insist on separating the two spheres?
p. s. This semester, Stutzman is offering “Technologies of Friendship,” where the focus is on “historical perspectives, theoretical concepts, internet relationships and group dynamics”. You can keep up with the course wiki, in-progress, here.