Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

3 for 3: Which Web 2.0 Tools Are Best Suited for Enabling Collaboration in Teaching and Learning? a Trio of Ed Tech Experts Offer Up Their Top Three Choices Apiece

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

3 for 3: Which Web 2.0 Tools Are Best Suited for Enabling Collaboration in Teaching and Learning? a Trio of Ed Tech Experts Offer Up Their Top Three Choices Apiece

Article excerpt

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TEN YEARS into the new century, we're still trying to find the web 2.0 tools that best facilitate collaboration--one of the fundamentals of 21st century learning. As the number of tools continues to grow, and fuzzy terms like cloud computing, hashtags, and synchronous live platforms are introduced into the lexicon daily, even the most tech-savvy educators can have trouble determining which technologies have a role in a collaborative academic environment and which are simply new toys.

We asked three top ed tech consultants to each select three web 2.0 tools they believe are ideal for fostering collaboration in teaching and learning. The result is a compilation of technologies that can "do things of value," as one of our experts says, in the instructional and professional development realms, and in both the traditional and the virtual classroom.

STEVE HARGADON: Hargadon consults on social networking issues for tech solutions provider Elluminate; cofounded and runs Classroom 2.0, a social network for educators; and is the International Society of Technology in Education's (ISTE) emerging technologies chair. His top three collaboration tools share an ability to promote innovative teaching, he says, "or open doors to whole new ways that things can happen."

1) Blogs. "The core tool that often gets overlooked because it's not as glitzy and tends to be viewed as a little older is the blog," Hargadon says. Blogs were one of the first web 2.0 tools to find mainstream use, and Hargadon feels they're still just as useful today.

"What blogging really did is create a way to have conversations on the web that couldn't have taken place before," he says. "It's a simple technology to use. It's easy to protect, so it can be used just within a classroom environment or just within a certain group of people."

On his "Support Blogging" wiki, Hargadon offers a number of educational uses for blogging. As an example, he says teachers can create simple blogs through which they communicate classroom work and activities. "You can post an assignment on a blog and have your students post responses in the comments," Hargadon says. "You can put up a place for students to talk about their reactions to a chapter in a book." Or, he suggests, teachers can assign individual blogs to students, encouraging them to communicate their ideas in writing and allowing them to receive comments on their posts from their classmates.

"We see the blog as a very basic technology. We think of it as being a little bit old at this point. But people know what a blog is, so that makes it easy to adopt."

2) Social networks. Social networks do blogs one better, Hargadon says, by making the conversation between users instantaneous. That on-the-spot feedback makes social networking more suited for educators to connect and share resources with contacts outside their classroom or institution.

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"You can blog," Hargadon says, "but nobody [may be] reading it. The thing about social networking is that there's an immediate audience. You immediately have people who are going to see what you write, and you're much more likely to get a response.

"You can go on a social networking tool, like Ning, ask a single-line question, and get lots of responses. 'Has anybody used the iPod Touch in their school?' Instantly a long conversation takes place."

Although adoption in K-12 classrooms has been slow due to issues like compliance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, educator apprehension, and curriculum restrictions, social networking has become the preferred collaborative means of professional development.

"We didn't understand social networking for a long time," Hargadon says. "It took us a while to figure out that it wasn't inherently dangerous. But social networking really is becoming part of the standard toolkit, in part because it Docs some things brilliantly. …

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