Friday, September 30, 2011

Web 2.0

As a future school media specialist, I wanted to focus my research on Web 2.0 to target its use or purpose in our schools.  How does it fit into our curriculum and what are students allowed to access on school computers?  I have the privilege of working with high school students on a daily basis as a Language Arts teacher, but I was shocked to learn how little their generation knows about Web 2.0 tools and current research methods.  According to Carolyn Foote, a librarian at Westlake High School in Texas,  “only 14% write blogs, only 25 % have downloaded podcasts; about 25% have uploaded videos; and about 50% have tagged content.” (Foote, 2010).  With the changing environment of the business world and the expectations facing students in college, it is imperative that they receive instruction on Web 2.0 tools.  

How should these tools be used in the school setting?  Our job as school media specialists should be to equip students with the skills to research in this new era of online catalogs and student collaborated wikis.  First and foremost these tools are essential for the “communication and sharing of information.”  (Mandal, 2011).  More and more companies are using social networking tools to provide training or professional development opportunities.  News information is not just being reported by professionals anymore, but by the civilians first on the scene.  Students must be able to evaluate and interpret the most relevant information as well as the facts from fiction.  We must help “students to ask authentic questions, find the best sources, [and] winnow out unnecessary information.”  (Foote, 2010).

So what is standing in the way?  Well in some cases, the school board policies are getting in the way of such progress.  Schools across the country are “blocking access to collaborative tools, such as wikis, blogs, Flickr, Google Docs, and Del.icio.us.” (Rosenfeld, 2008).  While it is understandable to block access to sites such as Facebook or Twitter, students are missing out on educational opportunities with certain YouTube access and blogs.  The one drawback in opening access to these tools would be figuring out how to control access to inappropriate sites.  There is sure to be a strong backlash by parents without a plan to block unsuitable pages.  As I continue to discover new Web 2.0 tools and see the benefits they hold for students, I hope to be able to earn access to some of the tools for my future generations of students.  Without teaching students the proper way to use these tools, we are doing them a disservice.  

References

Foote, C. Empowering students for life; Research skills in the age of testing.  Multimedia & Internet@Schools.  17(2), 28-31. 

Rosenfeld, E. Blocking web 2.0 tools in schools: creating a new digital divide. Teacher Librarian. 35(3), 6.

Mandal, P. Blog and its role in library and information services.  Journal of Library and Information Technology. 31(3), 155-158.

4 comments:

  1. The blocking of Web 2.0 applications does create a disservice to students. I recently read an article on this issue and the author made an excellent point stating that there is a new type of digital divide and that on one side there are "students and teachers who have access to the tools of 21st-century learning and, on the other, those who have that access blocked” (Rosenfeld, 2008, para. 5). I found this to be such a powerful statement. There are so many Web 2.0 tools that can be useful to students, like Kobobooks and Kerpoof. Hopefully there will be a solution to the problem of filtering educational applications soon because Web 3.0 is right around the corner and it would be a shame for students not to benefit from these applications.

    Rosenfeld, E. (2008). Blocking web 2.0 tools in schools: Creating a new digital divide. Teacher Librarian, 35(3), 6. Retrieved from http://dgmpresentations.pbworks.com/f/blockingweb20tools.pdf

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  2. This is very interesting. While I knew that school computers had blocks that prevent email access, I was not aware that it would block so many well known tools. I have seen Google Docs used effectively in a Hillsborough County Middle School as a communication tool between the Media Specialist and other Faculty. Now I know that I need to do more research on which tools are available in each school district. It is disheartening that it is so inconsistent.

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  3. I see we read the same article Sarah :) Yes, I thought the idea of blocking these tools as the real digital divide was an astute judgment. I hope schools can begin to reach a compromise on the issue.

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  4. I agree with you 100 %. I also find that with so much focus on "preparing" students for the FCAT we do not have time to integrate activities with collaborative tools that will truly assist students in their future studies.

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