Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Web 2.0 for educators part 1

The visible bit is the fruiting body,  but the mycelia
occupies a greater volume in space underground than
what you actually notice above ground

Started Tuesday 4th January 2010 at 11.08 am
Words 774

Web 2.0 is a topic finally coming to the fore in the British psyche.  They might not know it as Web 2.0  but they recognise some of the components by the brand name, for example Facebook.   There are similar parrells with green fuels.  Most people are aware that bio fuels exist. They do not often recognise that when they fill up their car they are using bio fuel.  Shell use it as an admixture to their range of pumped fuel. 

So I think I have established a couple of examples of the principle "now you've explained the jargon I do that or a bit of it already, so what's so new about that?"  So what is Web 2.0 actually all about?

In my former employ a few years ago I was sitting in the staff room waiting for morning briefing near the beginning of term.  The Head opened the briefing with a question to see how many of us were awake.  "Who knows what Web 2.0 is?"  My hand shot up (after all it was a school and our Head at times did make you feel a bit like a pupil).   She probably experienced one of the few times in her recent teaching career when only one listener could answer the question.  She seemed a little disappointed and as it was one of those ideas she'd obviously heard of at a conference or head's briefing by a snake oil salesman  of the advisory persuasion.

In preparation for writing this posting I found the article that I PDFed (scanned and converted to a PDF) to her that day.   The little person inside me that was waving their hand on tip-toe at her had to be let out.   I did have a slight advantage over everybody else in the room as I had been the Head of ICT for four years.   An acknowledgement of the concept was received back and nothing else was heard.  We had more important Ofsted Inspectors to fry.  That email was on 27th September 2008. 

So now why is it becoming again so important.   Firstly the technology is mature enough now to be useful.  Broadband connections have become faster  and more reliable so streaming content should not freeze (E2BN coming of age).  Secondly,  Web 2.0 and cloud computing  are being embraced by business making IT a very cheap tool as opposed to being a millstone to small business operation and growth.

Web 2.0 can serve a number of different purposes that aren't necessarily the same for pupils,parents and staff.   Web 2.0 uses fall in to five broad categories:  Information, Productivity, Visualization, Assessment and Simulation.  It also has to be remembered that Web 2.0 is not just restricted to just computers, mobile phones, kindles and game consoles with a bit of imagination can be used.  Even the parents are in on the experience with the dreaded  text message from SIMS informing them of the non arrival of their little William or Katherine at school.

So the five areas

Information:  Already I have hinted at the capacity for SIMS to inform parents.  Monitoring of pupil progress by making available instantly accessible reports  is an area offered.   This might seem  scary to teachers and open up the potential for continual dialogue.   

A lot of parents themselves are more scared of entering school and discussing their William and Kate their children may of going to school. So if they could  have a non-eyeballing experience themselves so much the better.  The "pushy" parent would also be a little deflated if they could see the information rather than have the martyring experience of trying to get past the front desk to get an appointment.  There are bigger fish to fry at the moment than experiencing confrontation over what is in essence an opening line to a conversation about how William and Kate can do better (even if they are already doing well).   

For pupils the Wiki and Google searches are the beginning of all those well intentioned death by 
PowerPoint exercises.  The use of Blogs and Bebo can be used for encouraging reflective practice. it wasn't so daft the GCSE in Bebo.  Equally so this can be applied to staff.  These obviously have to have safe surfing standards.   

A slight pause here as I break for lunch.  The self-imposed blog limit for the day has been reached.  Next week I will fill in a few more details of how I think Cloud Computing can be used effectively by Educators.  The following week I will apply these principles to the relatively new field of small businesses and micro-entrepreneurs.  

In part two I will continue the four parts and explain the significance of the Mushroom.

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