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					          Incorporating Web 2.0 into the school environment

What is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 is a broad term used to describe the myriad of social internet-based
services that involve communication and collaboration. A clear definition of
web 2.0, which has been quoted in many texts on the topic, is from Wikipedia
(which is itself a web 2.0 resource): “Web 2.0 is a trend in the use of World
Wide Web technology and website design that aims to facilitate creativity,
information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users”
(Wikipedia, 2008). Other well known examples of Web 2.0 technology include:
Facebook, Myspace, Second Life, MSN Instant Messenger, Flickr, iTunes,
Youtube, and Learning Management Systems such as Blackboard and
Janison. An extensive list of Web 2.0 applications can be found at
Go2Web2.0 (www.go2web20.net/, 8/04/08).

Why use Web 2.0 in schools?

Web 2.0 has many exciting applications that can be strategically utilised within
schools. Steve O‟Hear, in his article „e-learning 2.0 - how Web technologies
are shaping education’, writes that “Teachers are starting to explore the
potential of blogs, media-sharing services and other social software - which,
although not designed specifically for e-learning, can be used to empower
students and create exciting new learning opportunities.” (O‟Hear, 2006)
O‟Hear discussed Web 2.0 with the interchangeable term „e-learning‟. He
describes it as “'small pieces, loosely joined' approach that combines the use
of discrete but complementary tools and web services - such as blogs, wikis,
and other social software - to support the creation of ad-hoc learning
communities.”

Salmon further describes the benefits of „e-tivities‟ (the term she adopts for
learning activities using web 2.0 technologies) as “cheap and easy to run…
E-tivities are important for the on-line learning world because they deploy
useful, well-rehearsed principals and pedagogies for learning but focus on


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their implementation through the best of net-worked technologies.” Most of
Salmon‟s e-tivities are based on learning communities and discussion boards.

Students in the 21st century are currently accessing and using these
technologies at home, making it readily apparent that teachers cannot expect
to maintain student interest with traditional „chalk and talk‟ strategies. The ICT
Taskforce, in its report „Contemporary Learning‟, discussed the use of ICT in
the home in terms of recreation, communication and daily work. It reported
that 21st century students are “Highly connected, they simultaneously do
homework, talk on the phone, listen to music, surf the web and maintain
conversations on line.” (ICT Taskforce, 2005).

Furthermore, students will be required to be confident and capable users of
ICT‟s and similar technology when they enter the workforce. Bitner and Bitner
believe that “Students today must learn to search and discover knowledge,
actively communicate with others, and solve problems so that they can
become productive life-long members of our society.” (Bitner, 2002) The ICT
Taskforce warns that "increasingly most jobs require ICT-specific skills –
significant numbers require high level skills. It is the job of schools and
educators to prepare students with the necessary skills to enter the workplace
and become useful members of society.”

Examples and uses of Web 2.0

Blogs

Blogging is essentially the maintenance of an online journal, with the name an
abbreviation of the term „web-log‟. The distinction with a traditional „pen and
paper‟ journal is that other people can (and are expected to) access a blog
and many are interactive. O‟Hears states that “Blogs also of course facilitate
critical feedback, by letting readers add comments - which could be from
teachers, peers or a wider audience.” (O‟Hear, 2006) Blogs can be individual
or collaborative.

Blogging can have very positive outcomes for students. A site established for
the successful integration of blogging into education - Support Blogging


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(http://supportblogging.com), informs readers and educators that blogging:
”helps them (students) find a voice, creates enthusiasm for writing and
communication, provides an opportunity to teach about responsible
journalism, and empowers students.“ (Support Blogging, 2008)

The uses of blogs for education include sharing of resources and files; class
blogs for families to access at home; the provision of an online space to
publish work; dialogue generation; and writing collaboratively. Free blogging
sites include Blogger (www.blogger.com) and Edublogs (http://edublogs.org).

Wikis

Wikis have become widely recognised due to the success of „Wikipedia‟
(http://en.wikipedia.org/), an online encyclopaedia based on Web 2.0
technologies that is predicated on the basis that all users can contribute and
edit information on topics. Tonkin, in her article „Making the case for a Wiki‟
(2005) articulates that the wiki “could be christened „simple user-editable data
storage‟. It was born in 1995 to hold pattern repository, the term wiki famously
being taken from the Hawaiian term „wikiwiki‟ or superfast.”

Wikis can encourage collaborative writing, provide access to online teacher
and peer editing of assignments and be used as a starter guide for research.
Free sites targeted at schools and families include Wikispaces
(www.wikispaces.com).

Social Networking and Online Chat

Social networking and online chatting has its value in education. Although
sites such as Myspace and Facebook can be detrimental to the student who
is easily distracted, Learning Management Systems (including Blackboard
and Janison) and sites such as Elgg (http://classic.elgg.org/, 3/05/08 ) and
Eduspaces (http://eduspaces.net/, 3/05/08) are specifically designed for
education. Users are able to set up learning communities, share files, listen to
podcasts and participate in online forums. Steve O‟Hear (2006a) describes
the benefits of Elgg over commercial social networks as being that “all of a



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users content can be tagged with key words so they can connect with other
users with similar interests and create their own personal learning network.
However where Elgg differs from a regular weblog or commercial social
network is the degree of control each users is given over who can access
their content.”

Online chat can be used in the classroom to chat with guests that would be
otherwise unavailable. A similar use is interaction as a modern day version of
pen-pals, communicating with others in local and global settings. Education
Queensland has an excellent resource for online chatting called „The Learning
Place.‟ However, this resource is only available to Education Queensland
Teachers and students.

Podcasts and iPods

Podcasts are being used throughout education. David Warlick, on his site
„Education Podcast Network‟ ,defines podcasts as “A merger between
blogging and radio”. Podcasts are digital media files in audio or video format
(most often in the mp3 audio format) that are designed to be listened to or
viewed on portable media players (such as iPods) and computers. Podcasts
can be shared by teachers and students and can be uploaded to, and
downloaded from, the internet. The Western Australian Department of
Education and Training promotes pod casting on its website
(http://www.det.wa.edu.au/education/cmis/eval/curriculum/ict/podcasts/, Date
Accessed 9/04/08):

“Creating a podcast allows students to share learning experiences. It provides them with a
world wide audience that makes learning meaningful and assessment authentic. Teachers
can use the technology to provide additional and revision materials to students to download
and review at a time that suits them. The flexibility that such time shifting offers makes
podcasting a valuable educational tool.”


Podcasts can be used in classrooms for sharing teacher and student
materials; to allow students to record and share oral presentations; as a
platform for public speaking; to record book narration for beginning readers; to
access educational podcasts online from sites such as YouTube


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(www.youtube.com), Education Podcast Network (http://epnweb.org) and the
CSIRO (http://www.csiro.au/org/Podcasts.html).

Barriers to implementing ICT and Web 2.0 technologies

The following barriers to implementing ICT and Web 2.0 technologies are
relevant in my own school context. While these barriers are also prevalent
throughout Australia, it is not intended to be an exhaustive list for all schools.
Based on personal experience and observation, the biggest barriers to
implementing Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom are: concerns for
internet safety; time; and professional development. These barriers combined
make it difficult to convince teachers to use Web2.0 in our school
environment.

Internet safety
Internet safety is a concern to many educators and caregivers and I have
personally encountered reluctance to use and publish work on the internet
within my school setting. There are many dangers on the internet to
unsuspecting and trusting students. Some teachers do not have the
confidence to allow students to search on the internet or participate in online
chat and social networks for fear of predators and inappropriate materials. An
initiative of the Australian Federal Government to help educators and families
was to establish „Net Alert‟, which is “part of the Australian Government‟s
ongoing commitment to providing a safe online environment for families,
especially children.” (Net Alert, Date Accessed 10/4/08). This website includes
information and advice as well as a free internet content filter for families and
educators who are concerned about the content that children can access
online.


Time
Time is a factor that many teachers consider contributes to their lack of
knowledge and use of ICT in the classroom. Setting aside the requisite time to
learn new skills and concepts is difficult given the existing demands on
teachers‟ schedules. In „Making Better Connections‟, Downes and his
colleagues reported that:


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“Teachers, researchers, and policymakers consistently indicate that the greatest
challenge to implementing effective professional development is lack of time.
Teachers need time to understand new concepts, learn new skills, develop new
attitudes, research, discuss, reflect, access, try new approaches and integrate them
into their practice; and time to plan their own professional development.”
                                                              (Downes et al, 2001, p75)


When exploring and creating new resources for the newly installed Interactive
Whiteboard in my classroom, my experience was that it took an entire
weekend. This is an example of the time after schools hours used by many
teachers to continually reflect on and improve resources. Weekends and
hours outside of prescribed work hours is time that many teachers consider
that they should not have to utilise for work purposes. It is imperative that
teaches are given more time, such as through professional development
courses, to use and become familiar with the technologies that they are
expected to teach.


Systemic attention to teacher development
Teacher and professional development in the area of ICT is essential. The
ICT Taskforce reported that “Pre-service education and continuous in-service
professional development empowers teachers and support staff to critically
integrate ICT into learning and teaching (ICT Taskforce, July 2007). Without
support and professional development courses on specific ICT‟s, teachers
cannot be expected to be comfortable or confident teaching technologies they
are not familiar with.


Certainly within my own context, as well as nationally, teacher development
has been ignored while the education department continues to push for
increased integration of ICT‟s into the curriculum. When professional
development is offered, it is often inadequate and takes a „one size fits all
approach‟. Downes and his colleagues reported that “One of the greatest
barriers to effective professional development is the absence of the conditions
for effective, ongoing professional development built into the daily working
lives of teachers” (Downes et al, 2001, p73). Teachers are often expected to
hone new skills in their personal time, which is generally an inappropriate




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demand and in any event is an inefficient process when compared to formal
skill development programs.


The ICT Taskforce aptly stated that “Progress is being made but continuing
effort is required if all teachers are to confidently use ICT in their everyday
practice” (ICT Taskforce, July 2007). Although education departments are
beginning to realise the disadvantages that result from failing to equip
teachers with the necessary skills, it is not being implemented consistently,
because schools do not have adequate funding for relief teachers and the
cost of travel and courses.



Current Policies

Any ICT plan must take into account the local and national policies for ICT
and education. For schools in the Northern Territory, this includes the National
Goals for education which comes under the „Statements of Learning for ICT‟,
and the Northern Territory Curriculum Framework, as well individual school
policies already in place.

The Statements of Learning for ICT published by the Curriculum Corporation
for MCEETYA (2006), outline key areas and outcomes which the states and
territories collaborated on for the future of ICT education. It emphasises that
the “Statements of Learning for ICT is not a curriculum in itself. Instead, it
contains a series of statements about essential opportunities to learn in this
particular domain which education jurisdictions have agreed to implement in
their own curriculum documents.” (Curriculum Corporation, 2006, p1). This
document is designed to be used by curriculum developers, and not
classroom teachers. The statements list „the progression of learning‟ for
students in years 3, 5, 7, and 9.

The Northern Territory Curriculum Framework (NTCF) is the overarching
document used in schools to plan for ICT. Any school ICT policy in a Northern
Territory school needs to be constructed with the NTCF outcomes in mind. In
the NTCF, the „Learning Technology‟ outcomes are separated into four


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domains: Problem solving and decision making through research;
communicating through presentation, publication or performance; operating
computer components; and ICT in society. Teachers are expected to
incorporate the Learning Technologies into all teaching and learning
programs. Integrating Web2.0 technologies falls directly under
„communicating through presentation, publication or performance‟ – “P2:
Learners interact with other locally and globally using a range of
technologies.” (NTCF, 2002, p72) This outcome includes indicators for
learning including: ”netiquette, creating websites and intranet pages, help to
design and publish class sites, participate in online projects.”

Current school positioning within the STaR Chart
No school policy can be written without investigating the school‟s position
through both the Edcap surveys for the teacher continuum and the School
Technology and Readiness (STaR) Chart. Using the STaR Chart, I have
identified the strengths and weaknesses of my current school in relation to
ICT. The STaR Chart lists the ICT domains and the phases which schools
should be moving through.


Leadership and Management – Phase 1
The school is at Phase 1 because it needs to establish an ICT leadership
group to help promote use of ICT in the school environment. Currently there
are four ICTC‟s employed at the school, as well as individuals who are
informally used as trouble shooters. The school also needs to revisit the
EdCap surveys and STaR Chart to implement whole school planning of ICT.


ICT Infrastructure – Phase 4
The school is at Phase 4 as it is very well equipped, with computers in all
classrooms as well as a computer lab and a portable laptop trolley.
Peripherals such as data projectors, digital and video cameras, Interactive
Whiteboards, DVD players and burners are easily accessible throughout the
school.


ICT Professional Learning – Phase 2


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The school is at Phase 2, because professional learning currently takes place
under an ad-hoc approach. The ICT teacher attempts to provide skills- and
applications-based training, but few teachers attend these sessions. The
school needs to identify ICT goals in teachers‟ Performance Enhancement
and encourage attendance to sessions already being run for the use and
instruction of ICT in the classroom.


Classroom Practice – Phase 2
The school is at phase 2 because staff members need to revisit the Northern
Territory Curriculum Frameworks, as many do not understand or integrate
Learning Technologies into their programs. Currently, the school reports on
one Outcome in the Learning Technology area and does so only at the end of
the year. The school has access to excellent resources and software, with
much of this going unused. There is a current drive by ICTC‟s to remind
teachers of the school resources, including passwords and access rights to
site licences. Teachers also need more development and encouragement to
give up teacher-directed learning styles and instead become facilitators of
learning in the area of ICT. Students should be encouraged to explore and
develop e-learning and online skills.


Student Access and Assessment – Phase 2
The school is at phase 2 because some teachers have begun to use online
learning in limited ways. However, most students are only accessing the web
for the limited uses of email and research. The infrastructure of the school
means that students have good access to ICT resources, so students need to
be given more opportunity within classrooms and learning programs to utilise
these resources.


Administration and Community Access Phase 2-3
All staff, including administration and support staff, have access to ICT. Staff
members are encouraged to share resources and there are communal drives
and folders set up for this purpose. Staff members are beginning to use these
facilities and to phase out the photocopying of resources for sharing.



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However, the community has very little access to ICT communication. The
schools website is often in need of updating and is read-only.

Recommendations

When planning for ICT integration and including web 2.0 technologies, it is
important to consider the many stakeholders, which include teachers,
students and administrators. November (1998) said “To be successful, a
technology plan must promote meaningful learning and collaboration, provide
for the needed professional development and support, and respond flexibly to
change.” After taking into account the school‟s position on the STaR Chart,
current policies and the NTCF, as well research into the successful integration
of web2.0 and ICT in education, I have formed the following recommendations
for planning to integrate web2.0 technologies into the school‟s ICT policy.

1.   Professional Development to be offered school wide and include ongoing
     support.
2.   Create and encourage use of set spaces for sharing of resources and
     online collaboration, which could include creating a learning community
     in e-space.
3.   Provide quality information and access to online resources that are easy
     to use and find.
4.   More planning time for ICTC and teachers to work together. This will help
     teachers to learn and use the „Learning Technology‟ outcomes of the
     NTCF, and will give teachers more confidence and resources to use
     web 2.0 in their classrooms.
5.   Modelled and scaffolded examples from ICTC‟s and teachers already
     implementing web 2.0 technologies in their classrooms.




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References

Bitner, N. and Bitner J. 2002, Integrating Technology into the Classroom:
Eight Keys to Success, Journal of Technology and Teacher Education (2002)
10(1), 95-100

CSIRO Podcasts - http://www.csiro.au/org/Podcasts.html, Date Accessed
19/04/08

Department of Education, Science and Training. Net Alert. Date Accessed
10/4/08. www.netalert.gov.au/home.html

Downes, T. et al. 2001. Making Better Connections. A Report to the
Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training

Eduspaces. http://eduspaces.net/, Last Accessed 03/05/08

Elgg. http://classic.elgg.org/, Last Accessed 3/05/08

Go2web2.0. www.go2web20.net/. Last accessed 8/04/08

MCEETYA ICT in Schools Taskforce, July 2007
Progress      report:    Learning     in     an    Online      World     2006.
http://www.icttaskforce.edna.edu.au/icttaskforce/webdav/site/icttaskforcesite/u
sers/root/public/learning_online_progress_07%20doc.doc Date Accessed
10/04/08

November, A, 1998 „Critical Issue: Developing a School or District Technology
Plan’, North Central Regional Educational Laboratory,
http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/methods/technlgy/te300.htm

NT DEET (2002). NT Curriculum Framework. NT: NT Government.

O‟Hear, S, 2006a, ‘Elgg – A Social Network Software for Education’,
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/elgg.php, Date Accessed 19/04/08


O‟Hear, S, 2006, ‘e-learning 2.0 - how Web technologies are shaping
education’, http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/e-learning_20.php Date
Accessed 8/04/08




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The Learning Place, http://education.qld.gov.au/learningplace/, Date
Accessed 8/04/08

Tonkin, E. 2005, LM 3/01/06 ‘Making the case for a Wiki’ Ariadne Issue 42,
URL: www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue42/tonkin/intro.html Date Accessed 9/04/08

Western Australian Department of Education and Training, 2007, Podcasts in
the classroom
http://www.det.wa.edu.au/education/cmis/eval/curriculum/ict/podcasts/, Date
Accessed 9/04/08

Wikipedia. (2008). Web 2.0. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/web2.0.
Last accessed 9/04/08.

Wikispaces, www.wikispaces.com, Date Accessed 19/04/08

YouTube, www.youtube.com, Date Accessed 19/04/08




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