Amp Up Student Learning Using Web 2.0 Tools

Summer has ended and school has started bringing with the new school year new learning opportunities. A new learning opportunity may well be to use Web 2.0 tools to amplify your content and student learning. As an English Teacher, I would use Web 2.0 tools to extend student learning in a number of ways—blogging, podcasting, and creating Wikis for example. Trying new web-based tools was exciting for my students and for me. Now, as a Project-Based Learning trainer, I see how these same tools can be used in a project. In June, I attended PBL World where I participated in a two-day workshop highlighting Web 2.0 tools both teachers and students can use to design, assess, and manage aspects of the project. I am excited to share with you my learning from this workshop, which includes some Web 2.0 tools and the realization that effective Web 2.0 integration amplifies student learning through active engagement, collaboration, immediate feedback, and connection to real-world resources.

“Web 2.0” is a frequently used buzzword but many do not know what it means. “Web 2.0” technology allows users to interact in creating, collaborating, editing, and sharing user-generated content online. Web 2.0 tools are . . .

  • easy-to-use, so you and your students can master the tool in minutes
  • free; however, some tools are limited in use requiring payment for full use of the tool
  • highly social–encouraging collaboration
  • interactive–allowing users to manipulate and interact with content in new ways
  • web-based; no downloading is required
  • fun to use, enhancing the user’s experience

Some Web 2.0 tools require account creation and/or an email address. If this is the case, you may want to create a class account and easy passwords for students to remember. Something else to consider when choosing Web 2.0 tools is to use tools that have multiple uses. For example, Edmodo allows for online discussions, small group collaboration, and assessment of student learning.

Now that we have defined “Web 2.0”, let me highlight several Web 2.0 tools you and your students can use immediately. An interesting way to engage students in a project is to use a weighted Pro/Con list. Students can assign values to a pro or a con to help them weigh each side of the issue. This entry event is a sure way to initiate a hot topic discussion about an issue related to the project.

An important part to launching a project is to determine what students “need to know” in order to drive student inquiry and learning. Web 2.0 tools can make this task easy. One such tool is Today’s Meet, where students can use their cell phone or a computer to post questions about the project. This tool allows even the quietest students to exercise their voice in identifying what is “needed to know” about the topic of study.

Another Web 2.0 tool a team can use to plan and assess the progress of the project is Creately. Creately provides diagram templates allowing for real time collaboration. Teams can use this tool to create a workflow diagram charting tasks that require completion in a project. They can also use this tool to generate a mind map stimulating student inquiry as they attempt answer the driving question in a given project.

Teams can also use the web-based collaboration tool, Vyew, which allows teams to meet and share content in real-time. Teams can upload images, files, documents, and videos into a room where they can access or contribute at anytime from anywhere.

Another use for Web 2.0 tools is students creating final products to demonstrate their learning. For example, one team might choose to create an infographic using Easel.ly or Infogr.am while another team might choose to create a virtual tour using Mapwing. Both tools can be used in creating a product and in sharing the product with a public audience.

There is no doubt that using web-based learning tools supports a project-based learning environment. Educators who effectively leverage Web 2.0 tools personalize student learning, encourage collaboration, and prepare students for the future. Have fun using Web 2.0 tools to amplify your content and maximize student learning!

Pawlewicz_Denise_WEBDenise Pawlewicz
Project Based Learning Trainer/Coach
dpawlewicz@ocmboces.org

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