Chapter 4 new tools in schools

Comments by Gordon Donnelly.
New tools in schools.
This chapter gives an idea of applying the ideas & tools possible with the advent of Web 2.0. It is based on our acceptance that there needs to be a shift in how we see schools operating & how students will learn.
As a result it proposes a probable purpose for schools & the possibilities of technology. It expects an emphasis on inquiry, creativity & a commitment to technology.
A number of tools & methods have been explored in our classes.

The New Tech High.

The new high uses “collaborative & project based learning as the first priority, and they look at technology to support the pedagogy and philosophy second.” (p. 79)
Priority in the curriculum is given to Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) but other subject areas are still catered. This will mean a need for funding for infrastructure which can be a problem. One path is to look for schools, communities & local service providers to pool resources.

More important is the commitment of administrators to providing adequate professional development.

Classroom applications – tools.

The value & strength of Web 2.0 tools is their public nature & collaborative process, especially their access to an immediate & larger audience.

· Blogs.
Offer value for writing exercises. Brainstorming, editing & peer review are promoted. They also encourage feedback from the teacher & fellow students.

· Wikis.
These offer the above & add a focus on project based learning by teams. Wikis in particular offer the oversight of a teacher tracking what editing takes place.

· Podcasting.
These allow students to construct, edit & rehearse products while encouraging expanding the audience to outside the classroom (the digital world).

Digital storytelling.
Think of it as a collage of every type of media & mediums. The idea of scripting is explored & it has access to the myriad avenues of the digital world. Storytelling in particular offers the opportunities for casual & formal presentations.

Digital diplomacy.
Students, teams & classes can establish links & share with other school districts, regions, ethnic groups, nationalities – the world is the limit.

Classroom applications - content.

Here we will cover some of the content areas as a pointer to what is possible; social studies, math, geography, science & other languages also have examples given.

Web 2.0 tools & attitudes can energize students by giving them alternative formats & avenues to express themselves. They could explore Dickens by publishing on their blog & so have to be aware of an audience. It also stimulates by offering an audience outside their community.

Media Literacy.
This is an area so many of us want our students to address – it is more than technical skills…it is developing critical sensibilities about what is out there & how to make use of it. Students should be given tasks to question the value/limitations of each of the Web 2.0 & traditional learning tools.
So students need to examine the potential of each tool. Valuable aids to this are the American Library Association with its TechSource & the New Media Literacy organization.

Journalism & Video production.
These speak for themselves & a valuable lead is to be found with the Association of Electronic Journalists.

To conclude. There are a plethora of organizations, educational bodies & web sites that offer examples, tools & guides. Probably the most rewarding is ThinkQuest. It is a platform that promotes students exploring & demonstrating technology across the world.
Collaboration is the key concept & to have students manage their learning in the most meaningful way is the goal.

Recommended sites for this chapter. American Library Association (TechSource). Helps adults review the variety of resources available for students. Promotes critical awareness & technical skills for exploring technology. Organization of American Historians offers podcasts to showcase themes & periods of history. Association of Electronic Journalists offers strategies for technology in journalism.