Teachers participating in our web 2.0 projects have been working together to gain a greater understanding of how digital technologies can positively impact upon both classroom practice and school-wide ICT integration.
We began this process by sending out an invitation for people who might be interested in exploring the use of Web 2.0 technology in the classroom. Nine teachers responded to this email invitation so toward the end of Term 2, 2011 we met together as a small group. Jackson and I led these teachers through the process of how to set up a blog using WordPress.
Since then, this project has grown in scope and depth, with a huge level of interest amongst staff and students. Other teachers have seen what we have been doing and have wanted to join or small group of nine project members. We did not allow other people to join the original group, but instead have used the original group to teach others how to do the same thing
Have a look at some of what we have been doing:
I had been playing with blogging for several years but struggled to understand how to engage students with the content. I used this project to bring together what I had been doing and to develop it further in the classroom. My blog has separate pages for Accounting, Business Management and Commerce as well as Professional Learning. Earlier in the year I continued to just add content either as a summary of a topic or to add value to what we had been doing in class. The blog really began to take off in the middle of the year at exam revision time. I found that students were going back to the content to assist with revision and in the four days leading up to the exam there were over 500 hits on the blog.
Since them I have explored the concept of class portals and set up a portal on Civics and Citizenship for my Year 9 Commerce class. This was the point were I really began to see the benefits of Web 2.0. Students were allocated a topic and worked in pairs to develop content and a learning activity. Students then had to present this information to the class and run a lesson using the material they had developed. This flipped the learning process from teacher focused to student focused and I truly became a facilitator rather than a teacher.
Jackson’s English/IT/Professional Development blog has been a moderate success. Jackson has experimented with all of the techniques that have come up as a result of the workshops, but some have been more successful than others. The biggest challenge has been finding the time and space in an already crowded and quite prescriptive curriculum to implement his ideas. The Look2Learn stuff has worked well, and with a little bit of repetition and consolidation he thinks this will be great for his classes at all levels. The Survival portal has engaged students, but had to be suspended as he took on a student teacher in that class. It showed some promise, though, and he thinks by giving it a higher priority in the curriculum from the outset next year it will really take off.
Mark teaches Year 9 Commerce along side me. He set up a separate blog for his class and then used this as class portal as well for the Civics and Citizenship project.
Our secondary library has rolled out a blog with the aim of someday-incorporating student reviews and posts into the main site. At the moment the site is used for distributing information to students about new acquisitions in the library. The site seeks to get the students more involved in the library, so there have been competitions associated with the site, an online suggestion box and even little take away bookmarks with the library WordPress site emblazoned on it, so they know where to go for the latest information.
At the start of the year our Literature teacher had a conversation with me (Director of teaching and Learning) about how she was struggling to integrate technology into her classroom. She joined the Web 2.0 project and has used her blog to distribute information to her classes and other staff members (she also has a role working with me to facilitate teacher development). She has also included some personal posts about her life outside of school and she has said that this has really helped her to connect with her students. She has also had her students create their own Literature class portals for all of the texts they are studying and she has been impressed with the thoughtfulness her students put into their online work. While some of the class portals have fizzled out a little, she has learnt some good strategies for engaging the classes and is confident to continue using these media in the future.