Research shows that today’s digital-age students often experience a gap between how they learn in school and how they interact and work outside of school. In response, Lightspeed Systems has partnered with Thinkronize, creators of netTrekker, on a “Safe Schools in a Web 2.0 World” initiative to examine the use of Internet technologies in US school districts and help schools implement Web 2.0 technologies safely and effectively. The first part of the initiative was a national research survey of over 500 district technology directors, conducted by an independent research firm, Interactive Educational Systems Design Inc. (IESD). The survey examined the “current status, future plans, and ongoing challenges of Web 2.0 in K-12 education,” and its results suggest that teachers are “the most important group driving adoption” of Web use in schools. Teachers were most frequently cited for initiating the following:
.Digital multimedia resources (78%)
.Online learning games and simulations (65%)
.Teacher-generated online content (60%).
The other key survey group, students, was most frequently cited as driving the adoption of social networking and student-generated online content.
Dr. Jay Sivin-Kachala, vice president and lead researcher for IESD, says the research shows that “the movement toward Web 2.0 use to engage students and address individual learning needs is largely being driven in districts from the bottom up,” beginning with teachers and students. The survey results indicate that many districts either plan to use or are already using different types of Web 2.0 technologies, including Web 2.0 tools in teacher professional development. However, there is still some resistance to using online social networking for instructional purposes—in 83% of districts, few or no teachers use these sites for instruction, and 40% of districts’ policies don’t allow use of this technology.
Other key findings from the survey show that the three most frequently cited reasons for adopting Web 2.0 technologies are addressing students’ individual learning needs, engaging student interest, and increasing students’ options for access to teaching and learning. The next area of growth in Web 2.0 use in schools is predicted to be teacher-generated online content, such as multimedia lessons and wiki-based resources, with almost half of all districts surveyed planning to adopt or promote the creation and sharing of this content through Web 2.0 tools. Now that the survey has been released, the two companies will conduct online focus groups, prepare a white paper summarizing and interpreting the research, and create resources to help districts adopt collaborative Web technologies.