Transforming Learning

The Internet was once mostly about surfing from one static Web site to another while collecting or viewing data along the way. But now users share information, collaborate on content, and converse worldwide via social-software tools.

Such tools leverage the Web into a learning environment as well as an information source.

Will Richardson is the author of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, a how-to manual in which he describes what’s known as the Web 2.0 phenomenon as being the Read/Write Web.

Will provides ongoing inspiration at Weblogg-ed. His site is dedicated to discussions and reflections on the use of Weblogs, wikis, RSS, audiocasts and other Read/Write Web related technologies in the K-12 realm, technologies that are transforming classrooms around the world. All teachers should read this blog!

Will’s Web 2.0 Tools

Blogging

Perhaps the most powerful Internet tool is the Weblog, or blog, an online journal that is continuously updated by its author or authors. Blogs are Web sites that facilitate instantaneous publication and allow for feedback from readers. They’ve been used to form professional development communities, both within one school and across continents. Catch up wtih the trend that is sweeping the world of online learning: the use of Blogs K-12.

RSS

Real Simple Syndication refers to what are called “feeds”: programs that take content from various Web sources—news sites, blogs, online journals—and deliver it in summarized form to the Web user. RSS is “the new killer application for educators” because it enables them to collect specific data without having to sift through innumerable Web and print pages.

Wikis

A wiki is a communal, subject-specific Web site where users are free to add and/or edit content. When it comes to Internet-based collaboration, there’s nothing easier to use, according to Richardson. In schools, wikis enable groups of students, teachers, or both to gather content and share written work. Some classes create their own textbooks and resource sites. Take a look at Wikis and plan how you can use them for learning and teaching, for projects, professional development, or library resources.

Social Bookmarks

Through social bookmarking, Web users share their sources of information by allowing anyone to copy their RSS feeds. So an educator, no matter how unfamiliar he or she is with online technology, can easily archive, for example, all of Richardson’s sources of research via sites such as Del.icio.us and Furl.net. This allows students and teachers to build Internet resource pages they can share and pass on to future classes.

Podcasting

Podcasting enables Web sites to provide visitors with audio and/or video recordings that can be listened to and watched at any time.

Social Networking Sites

Will Richardson calls these “social content-sharing sites,” the most notable being MySpace.com, where members create profiles, network, and share opinions, photos, and audio-visual content. But there are about as many social networking sites as there are interests, and among favorites are Flickr.com, where photographs are posted and shared, and the video-sharing site YouTube.com. Discover how to organise online resources for yourself, your colleagues and your students – and save time!

The Read/Write World of Web 2.0

So now have Web 2.0 – a Read/Write web which is grounded in communication, conversation, connectivity and community! People are starting with one tool, then moving to more – eventually creating a blended “mashup” to suit their personal and professional needs.

The Learning Agenda “Web 2.0 style” provides us with an architecture of participation, and an education experience immersed in the future world of our students.

A post from Doug at Borderland asks – “terms like social and networking are used to describe the change, but what do those words mean?” Indeed! I think that reading about and dipping into the social networking tools of Web 2.0 is probably the best way to explain.

An excellent paper from FutureLab looks at Social Software and Learning and the ’shape’ K-12 Educators Guide to Web 2.0 can be found at the Teaching Hacks wiki, as well as Coming of Age: An introduction to the NEW worldwide web of learning as a result of the transformation in the new technology environment of our students.

It is a great thing to discover what is changing around us with the uptake of Web 2.0 – but it does take some time to learn about and absorb these changes. I hope you enjoy your journey 🙂

Web 2.0 – Catch the Wave

Understanding Web 2.0

Pay Attention

The Machine is Us/ing Us

Shift Happens

The Social Web: Wikis, RSS, Blogs, Flickr, and MORE!

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