For almost 3 months I have been diving into the word of Web 2.0 and the different applications and tools up for offer. My plan was to research 6 different tools that I could use in lessons to enhance my students’ learning. I had 3 goals at the start of the term. I wanted to Increase my own comfort level with Web 2.0 tools (I started out as a self-proclaimed ‘intermediate’ tech user), by actually implementing these tools in the classroom making the most of my learning. I wanted to increase parent-teacher communication through online tools, and also increase student engagement in and out of the classroom.
Summary of Learning:
As mentioned above I thought of myself as an intermediate when it came to using technology both in and out of the classroom. I was comfortable learning new tools, but often chose to do things the way I had in the past simply because I didn’t make time to implement the new ideas. This course was good for me in this aspect. I had to push myself to research the tools, and implement in my classroom, and for the most part, the results have been positive. I wasn’t aware of just how many Web 2.0 tools there were out there, and for that reason I still think of myself as being at an intermediate level when it comes to using these technologies. No matter how much I learn there is still more out there: I don’t think anyone can describe themselves as an expert in this field. I have learned lots over the last weeks, but definitely not all.
What worked well? In terms of my learning, I found that it was best when I applied it in the classroom (or professional-development) straight away, and didn’t wait for a few days or weeks before trying it. In terms of programs, the only one I didn’t find particularly useful was Pinterest. The rest of the programs I concentrated on (Google Reader, Blogger, Moodle, Twitter & Hootsuite, Animoto, Glogster, and Poll Everywhere) I found helpful professionally, and useful in the classroom to create engaging lessons and assignments. If I had to pick a favourite program it would be Hootsuite, and Animoto. Hootsuite was most helpful with professional development, and keeping up with new trends in education; and Animoto was so easy to use, and the results were simply amazing!
When it comes to sharing my new learning, I have been blogging all my thoughts and findings on my Blogger site called Haley Lucas - Exploring Web 2.0. I also have noticed how useful Twitter is when it comes with sharing ideas to other like-minded people. As for integrating the tools in my classroom I am currently already using Glogster, and have planned upcoming lessons using Poll Everywhere (see blog for more details). For me, it helps if I use programs straight away. We had a speaker come to our last Pro-D called Terry Small (a master teacher, and learning skills specialist) and he told us that if you don’t use new skills or ideas within 48 hours you never would - and I see the truth in this. Throughout this project I found that I had to apply things in the classroom immediately or else I would simply move onto the next project or new idea before completely trying the first.
Throughout this course and my research into new tools I have found some great new ideas to make my lessons more exciting, and engaging (Glogster, Animoto, Poll Everywhere), and also new tools to ensure I stay on top of new trends in the Web 2.0 world (Twitter, Hootsuite, Google Reader). I plan to continue using the lessons and projects I have already implemented in the classroom, as well as new ideas and projects using these tools. Using the Professional Development tools mentioned above I plan to keep abreast of new trends in the Web 2.0 world, and when I find something interesting I want to experiment with it in the classroom quickly so I can see if it is useful. The more tools I can use in the classroom the more diversity I can have in my lessons.
Looking back on my personal journey I think I have come out with more positives than negatives. I ended up looking at 9 different Web 2.0 tools: Google Reader, Blogger, Moodle, Twitter, Hootsuite, Pinterest, Animoto, Glogster, and Poll Everywhere. As mentioned in my introduction My only major negative experience was with Pinterest, and perhaps with more time I can find a use for an application such as this. I am proud of the way I pushed myself throughout this project to learn new tools, and develop new ways to implement these tools in my classroom. I always find setting goals such a difficult process, you need to pick something that you know you can complete, but also something that isn’t too easy to accomplish. The three goals I set for myself fall into these guidelines, and I am pleased with myself that I managed to get so far in these aspects. I did increase my comfort level with Web 2.0 tools, and implemented them in the classroom with assignments using Glogster, and lessons using online polls. I increased parent-teacher communication with my Moodle class website, and I also feel that I increased students’ ownership of their own learning: If students miss a class, they can take it upon themselves to catch up on missed notes online. I also improved my professional development, which wasn’t a goal, but a pleasant side-effect. I really got a lot out of Google Reader, and Twitter/Hootsuite and will use them in the future to keep on top of educational and technological trends. Completing this project has made me realize that learning and implementing these tools in the classroom isn’t as hard and time consuming as I once thought. I plan on continuing this journey, and blogging about new tools.