E-learning is learning that occurs through the use of electronic media. I agree with Reitz (2012) who says that e-learning includes some kind of electronic device or computer and is digital media or software supported (p. 86-7). If e-learning is the destination, then Web 2.0 can be considered the vehicle to get there. Web 2.0 includes technologies such as blogs, wikis, and social networking sites. Wankel and Blessinger (2013) assert, “Whereas Web 1.0 is considered a content-centric paradigm, Web 2.0 is considered a social-centric paradigm” (p. 3). Through the creation of e-learning activities using Web 2.0 technologies, instructional designers, teachers, and students all experience a huge pay off.
First, instructional designers are able to access many more resources and make learning more engaging for students. They are able to utilize social bookmarking so that they can organize websites and resources online and share them with others (yearn2learn4ever, 2011). Teachers are also able to share resources with others and collaborate with people across the globe. They can connect with parents more effectively and have information on their students in real time (yearn2learn4ever, 2011). Students are more engaged because the technology in the classroom is an extension of the technology they use in their every day lives. Their attention is captured by all the design elements of Web 2.0, such as color, video, etc. Web 2.0 taps into multiple learning styles and students can ask questions at any time. The most empowering aspect of it is that students are the content creators, thus giving them a choice and voice in their learning. Web 2.0 and e-learning make designing, teaching, and learning better for all groups.
In my environment, we are ahead of the game when it comes to access to e-learning resources and Web 2.0 technologies. My school has a one-to-one laptop ratio, Smartboards in every classroom, a 3D printer and scanner, a digital book loaning process, and a host of other technological resources. Coskie and Hornof (2013) quote the International Reading Association’s position statement, which states, “To be fully literate in today’s world, students must become proficient in the new literacies of 21st century technologies. As a result, literacy educators have a responsibility to effectively integrate these new technologies into the curriculum, preparing students for the literacy future they deserve” (p. 58). My school, even though our use of technology is still developing, has been able to educate a population of diverse learners successfully. We are able to target multiple learning styles through the use of digital resources such as videos, sounds, and images. Many classes reach the highest level of collaboration through the use of social media, in which students and teachers alike can share ideas with people all over the globe. Students, regardless of socioeconomic status, have access to technology and Internet connection. Denton (2012) argues that cloud computing technologies such as Google Docs, “…have the potential to enhance instructional methods predicated on constructivism and cooperative learning” (p. 34). I have seen this idea come to fruition in my classroom where students become active rather than passive in their learning and work collaboratively instead of in isolation. I have no doubt that blended and online learning trump solely face-to-face learning by far.
Which specific Web 2.0 technologies have you found success with in the classroom?
Click here for links to teachers’ favorite Web 2.0 tools:
Watch this video for a student’s point of view on the importance of digital citizenship classes:
Coskie, T. L., & Hornof, M. M. (2013). E-BEST Principles: Infusing Technology Into the Writing Workshop. Reading Teacher, 67(1), 54-58. doi:10.1002/TRTR.1189.
Denton, D. (2012). Enhancing instruction through constructivism, cooperative learning, and cloud computing. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 56(4), 34-41. doi: 10.1007/s11528-012-0585-1.
Reitz, S. (2012). Improving social competence via e-learning?: The example of human rights education. Frankfurt: Lang, Peter, GmbH, Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften. Retrieved from eds.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook?sid=8651241c-3438-402e-9d19-5257917acdb4%40sessionmgr110&ppid=pp_84&hid=103&vid=0&format=EB.
Wankel, C., & Blessinger, P. (2013). Increasing student engagement and retention in e-learning environments: Web 2.0 and blended learning technologies. Bingley, England: Emerald. Retrieved from eds.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook?sid=be042b56-bead-47b8-98da-e7bcf53e6b57%40sessionmgr4003&ppid=pp_1&hid=4111&vid=0&format=EB.
yearn2learn4ever. (2011). Web 2.0 technologies for educators [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=497wsZ0vSsQ.