Web 2.0 Enhances Learning

from Educators' eZine

Millennialn: a member of the generation born of baby boomers in the 20th century and reaching young adulthood at the start of the 21st century.
"Millennials wield a toolkit that includes Excel spreadsheets, administrator's numbers on cell-phone speed dials, and blogs."

Webster's New Millennium™ Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.7). Retrieved November 12, 2007, from Dictionary.com

Although our students are technically not Millennials as described above, they already are, and always will be, as comfortable with technology as their slightly older brothers and sisters. Teaching them requires understanding—and embracing—how technology is part of their lives. Today's students are accustomed to having technology at their fingertips at all times, and they expect the same level of interactivity in the classroom. The presence of computers in the classroom allows for the development of this interaction in numerous ways. From the early implementation of classroom computers, used mostly for games and enrichment, to the introduction of the Internet for information-gathering, multimedia, and collaboration, the last few years have seen dramatic changes in how technology can be implemented to create truly interactive learning experiences for students.

Web 2.0 tools have broadened the resources available in the classroom and reduced the reliance on Internet search. For example, to enhance a history lesson, the free Google Earth program lets you take students virtually to any location, such as the Arctic Circle or the Statue of Liberty. On its site, Google Earth demonstrates different ways to use the software to study economics, demographics, transportation and even plate tectonics and volcanic activity.

Statue of Liberty aerial view via Google Earth.

Additionally, Google Video and YouTube offer video clips of many locations students may not be able to personally visit. Also, with coverage of topics like the U.S. presidential debates, these video sites can be great current events tools. Most videos on these sites range from one to ten minutes long and can easily provide enrichment on a subject within a brief window of classroom time. A safer approach might be TeacherTube, functions as a library of video lessons from teachers around the world that can be used for enrichment.

Google Video and YouTube make it easy to find content related to current events.

Editor's Note: It is unfortunate, but be aware that, because many online video sites may contain inappropriate content, their use requires strict teacher-monitoring, up-to-date Acceptable Use Policies, and other safeguards to protect your students—and your career.

If you have a collection of images of your own that you'd like to make available on the Web, websites such as Flickr make it easy to upload images and include them in a slide show. Google Video and YouTube also allow you to share your own videos. Most of these sites attach searchable "tags" to content, making it simple for teachers to find material related to their subject.

Any of these elements can stand alone as an enrichment tool or can be integrated into a full-fledged multimedia lesson. It's common for teachers to use slideshow software such as PowerPoint to integrate these elements into a cohesive presentation.

I have also found the TeachBits CAT, or Content Authoring Tool to be a very flexible and interactive way to create classroom presentations. By using templates, it makes it easy to include images, audio, and Flash movies in a lesson. I have used CAT to create entire lessons, and students working on a group project can use CAT to create a class presentation on a topic they have researched.

However you choose to do it, implementing Web 2.0 resources in your classroom via interactive multimedia lessons can be an easy and fun process, and adds richness and depth to students' learning experiences. Creatively-inspired teachers interested in creating more engaging and interactive lessons can explore the resources available to them and produce a better learning experience for their students than ever before.

Email:Amy Capelle, My Blog