Monday, January 31, 2011

Web 2.0

What is Web 2.0?
Wikipedia defines Web 2.0 as, “commonly associated with web applications that facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web.” I look at Web 2.0 as free resources for teachers to connect with students, collaborate with colleagues and celebrate learning. A good video to explain Web 2.0 is located here. 1000 administrators were interviewed and listed Web 2.0 as positive factors in education for the following 7 reasons:
1. Student engagement increases
2. Opportunity to differentiate learning
3. Improves critical thinking skills
4. Develops new capabilities in students
5. Gives students and alternate learning environment
6. Extends learning beyond the walls of the classroom
7. Promotes life-long learning
In the following sections I will describe some categories of Web 2.0 and link you to some popular applications.

Web 2.0: Presentation Tools
PowerPoint is one of the most common ways of presenting. Features including background, transition, adding sound and embedding video make it very useful for teachers and students. What if you didn’t have access to Microsoft products? The WWW has many free presentation tools that users can access. Here are my top 5 with brief descriptions:
1. Animoto- automatically produces creative, unique video pieces from your photos, video clips and music. Fast, free and easy. The new educator’s feature allows you to add your class to the account. Check out this Animoto example.
2. Prezi- is the free zooming presentation editor. The website comes with many examples and tutorials to make your presentations pop.
3. Photostory 3- free download from Microsoft that allows you to add still photos, text, voice and even add background music that you can create in the program.
4. Slideshare- allows you to take your slides and add them to the internet to share, edit and add voice so your presentation runs automatically and you can access them anywhere.
5. Glogster- interactive poster that allows teachers to create student accounts. ClipArt, video, voice, pictures and links can be added to create and engaging presentation. Here is one of my examples.

Web 2.0: Image Tools
Flickr is a popular site that allows you to upload your photos and have access to photos from other people. This is considered a social photo sharing site. From Flickr you can take photos and edit them. By clicking on the edit button you will be directed to an editing site called Picnik. Here you have a selection of photo editing tools like cropping, removing red-eye, adding shapes or frames. A fun tool to make images talk is called Blabberize. Upload photos, follow the instructions and you can make any image talk.
Another great image tool comes from Students can upload photos to create posters, id cards, magazine covers, billboards and more.

Web 2.0 Collaboration Tools
Many teachers are looking to the web for learning platforms for their classroom. Web 2.0 tools exist for this purpose. Here are my top 5 website picks that offer platforms for classroom collaboration, and are free.
1. Edmodo- is a private online social platform for teachers and students to share ideas, files, events and assignments. It
looks somewhat like Facebook, but the Teacher has user control. Edmodo allows teachers the ability to handle pieces of class activity online. Teachers can send out assignments, receive completed assignments and assign grades using the online platform. Students can collaborate with each other under teacher supervision. Edmodo does much more but the main thing is it is secure.
2. Wikispaces- free platform for teachers to add content, embed video, have students share their projects and chat about a certain topic in a class. Click here to see how a Grade 1 teacher uses a Wiki.
3. Google Docs- available through a Google account. Google Docs allows the creation and sharing of documents similar to Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. You can also upload documents from your computer and access them anywhere. Once a document is shared users can edit, and have the ability to work on it at the same time. To collaborate while you are working together, there is a chat box on the side. Of course, you have the choice to share or not share a document.
4. Kidblog- allows students to publish posts and participate in discussions within a secure, teacher controlled environment. Blogging promotes communication, literacy, a chance to reflect and other higher level skills. An example of a classroom blog is here.
5. Twitter- allows you to create your own Personal Learning Network. Find links, articles, and opinions and share your thoughts by following some colleagues sharing your interests. Alberta Education and the ATA are tweeting regularly and it is a great way to catch up on news, on your own time. Some teachers are using Twitter with their students to have online discussions relating to a topic in the classroom.

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