Social networking, the sharing of artifacts, email, instant messaging, online games, forums, podcasts, wikis, blogs are what comes to mind when we think of the world wide web today. No longer just passive consumers of information placed on the web, these are the web 2.0 tools that permeate our lives both professionally and personally allowing its users to collaborate, create and publish content to online spaces both locally and globally (Luckin et al. 2009; Richardson, 2010). Inarguably group construction of knowledge, online authoring and responses in real time, together with the availability of network connections and the increased availability and affordability of devices are slowly changing the way our children think and learn (Roblyer and Doering, 2013).
It seems it is no longer acceptable for teachers to teach in isolation. There is unprecedented pressure on schools and teaching teams to share planning, assessments, collection and analysis of data. This is the case in my workplace at the moment. However many teachers themselves do not embrace pedagogical practices that utilize the participatory nature of Web 2.0 tools which encourages pursuing inquiry, collaboration, exploring new literacies and publishing to audiences as categorized by Crook (2008). In fact Web 2.0 technologies together with social media by their very nature are often viewed as ‘disruptive technology’ (Paulet-Crainiceanu, 2014). Richardson (2010) recounts how it wasn’t until he fully understood how global connections could create conversations and connections to learning networks and communities for himself that he was able to see what was needed to facilitate changes in his own curriculum and teaching. Perhaps this is the case for many educators today, a familiar story at my own work place.
A small group of teachers including myself are modeling and encouraging a shift in pedagogical practice through the planning of learning experiences which encourage problem solving and collaboration, including: students blogs; web conferences; accessing You tube clips, online games and learning tasks through virtual classrooms; creating using a variety of Web resources including photographs, images, diagrams, voice recordings, animations, movies; accessing sites such as Google, Google Maps, online dictionaries and participating in offerings such as An Hour of Code. Educators in Queensland can set up virtual classrooms, wikis, blogs etc. within The Learning Place, Education Queensland’s protected online environment for schools (Queensland Government, 2015). This gets around the problem of the restrictions placed on educators to publishing on outside sites, however this can still be frustrating on many levels when trying to incorporate collaborative and participatory technology into our pedagogical practice. For example we cannot plan using Google Docs and many other cloud computing applications, as these are restricted in Queensland, yet teaching colleagues in Victoria have been using them for years.
However in the end it is the teacher’s decision to choose the most appropriate pedagogy to meet the needs of the children they teach and this can be done by connecting with their students, a generation of perceived active networkers but many still have no idea of how to effectively use the plethora of Web 2.0 tools and resources available (Paulet-Crainiceanu, 2014; Roblyer and Doering, 2013; Crook, 2012). Teachers need to accept that they can be partners in student learning, supporting a shift away from traditional teacher directed learning to one that allows students to learn through an online environment of increased conversations, creativity and collaboration (Johnson, 2009).
Technology is evolving at a rapid rate and I have come to realize that hurdles can be thrown up at anytime. Privacy and online safety will always be a concern, but with education and shared responsibility through parent, teacher and student shared responsibility this can be overcome (Richardson, 2010). At the moment as a school we are trying to come to terms with the inevitable road of Bring Your Own Device and the policy that accompanies it. Many teachers are still of the mindset that they want someone to show them how to do things with technology instead of working it out. Groff and Haas (2008) allude to this thinking and suggest teachers need to be willing to ‘tinker’. Gouseti (2010) in discussing the success of using social media as an educational tool also reminds us that success cannot be expected at a first attempt. The idea of children having their own device is very daunting for many staff members whose web pedagogy in my opinion is in the development stages. These are all issues that impact on the successful use of web pedagogies in schools.
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