For my personal research topic I have chosen to study the impact that Web 2.0 technology has on education today. From the beginning of our studies in this seminar back in October where we looked at Alan Liu and Kenneth M. Price’s articles, this aspect of the seminar interested me. My aims for the project are to look at how the web has evolved, how it is being used in the classroom and how it is being treated by governments and state authorities.
Even before the introduction of the computer to the classroom it is true to say that education was constantly changing. What we are experiencing now is probably the biggest change that will ever take place in education, which is the incorporation of Web 2.0 technology into the classroom. The concept of Web 1.0 meant that a closed group of people created the contents of the web. Web 2.0 involves contents being created collaboratively by an open community of users. Blogs, social networks and even YouTube are examples of the Web 2.0 concept. To make it simple, you could think of Web 1.0 as a library. You can use it as a way of accessing information, but you can’t contribute to or change the information in any way. Web 2.0 is more like a big group or community having a discussion on a topic. You can still use it to receive information, but you also contribute to the conversation and make it a richer experience. Our class blog is a perfect example of how Web 2.0 is designed for people to become participants rather than mere viewers. The collaboration that everyone showed is what makes Web 2.0 work. Without it, Web 2.0 is nothing.
As previously stated, without collaboration from the learners (students), Web 2.0 tools provide very little in the way of educational value. For that reason, the role of the teacher is arguably more important now than it ever was. Education is crying out for teachers with the motivation and competency to develop these new ways of learning, to encourage the use of new technologies. Although the role of the teacher is changing, it will never be replaced by technology, but if the right training is provided for teachers, they can use Web 2.0 technology to advance the learning capacity of their students. There is no reason, other than funding, why schools should not adopt to these technologies to enable educational advancement in children. Knowledge is by no means less useful because it was acquired through a computer rather than face to face.
Web 2.0 applications such as blogs, wikis and interactive learning games are quite easy to install and manage if the teachers had the basic training to implement them. We have seen first hand through the class blog how useful they can be to a learning environment. The advantages are that students can learn from each other and find people with similar interests and it can also be managed quite easily by a teacher/supervisor. Also, following a bookmark site gives insights into the administrator’s research, which could play well in a classroom setting as a teacher tracks students’ progress. Students, in turn, can learn from their teacher’s webpage.
Image found at: http://www.saferinternet.org
Although there are many advantages to the use of Web 2.0 technology in the classroom, there is a certain reluctance amongst teachers (particularly Irish teachers) to adopt these technologies. This is shown in a survey done by the blogging site anseo.net. The reasons for this is most likely a lack of knowledge of these technologies. This year, The European Resource Centre (ERC) has set out guidelines for setting up teacher training courses in Web 2.0. Although these are only guidelines and are by no means compulsory for any member states, I feel that they are on the right track towards ensuring that all teachers are well trained in Web 2.0 technology. The eventual aim of these guidelines is that all teachers within the EU realise the education potential of Web 2.0 and are able and competent to use it as a teaching tool. David A. Thomas from the University of Nevada reflected on these exact thoughts in a speech titled “From Web 2.0 to Teacher 2.0” at an international conference on web technology. He says that courses on technology should be compulsory for all teachers but should be grouped depending on the teacher (primary, secondary, third level). His article is an example of how the United States is treating Web 2.0 in education.
This video was created by The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). This is a government funded group whose goal is to ensure that the youth of Great Britain are protected online. There are different levels to this agency: the first is run by the police to investigate cases of child exploitation on the web. The other level is harm reduction, which they called the ThinkUKnow campaign. This campaign was established to ensure that children learn to use the web in a safe and fun way. Not only have the British Government released this advertisement on national television, they also commissioned the CEOP to travel to schools all over Britain, teaching children about web safety by using games and other fun activities to help their message sink in. As this is a government agency in Britain, I decided to check what the Irish Government and state agencies were doing to promote web safety by our youth. After extensive searching I came to the realisation that there is nothing being done to ensure that our children are using the web safely.
How much more rapidly will education change under the influence of the openness, ease of access, and social nature of Web 2.0? It is hard to answer, but with the way education has changed in the past decade, who knows. Much responsibility is on the Irish Government to adopt these new education methods in the way that their British, European and American counterparts are doing so, although I cannot see much being done within the next few years. The fact that Ireland is heavily influenced by the EU is a positive in this case however, as the guidelines set out By the ERC may be enforced on the Irish education system. I believe that it is essential that the implementation of Web 2.0 in education should be backed by a strong and realistic programme of training for all teachers, regardless of experience, and should continually develop to meet the changing needs of learners and teachers.
Lauden, Kenneth C. and Traver, Carol Guercio. E-Commerce 2011: Business, Technology, Society. Pearson, 2011.
Liu, Alan. “Imagining the New Media Encounter.” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies. Blackwell, 2012. Web. 9 Mar. 2012.
Price, Kenneth M. “Electronic Scholarly Editions.” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies. Blackwell, 2012. Web. 9 Mar. 2012.
Thomas, David A. From Web 2.0 to Teacher 2.0. Proceedings of the Twentieth Annual International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics. Texas: Pearson Education, 2009. Web. 7 Mar. 2012.