Web 2.0 Tools

Why Web 2.0?

In its early days, the Internet was primarily a one-way communication tool. With the exception of a few programmers, people simply consumed the web. That was Web 1.0 - the read-only web.

According to Wikipedia, a Web 2.0 site allows users to interact and collaborate with each other as creators of content. Web 2.0 is the read-write web. Examples of Web 2.0 tools include social networking sites, blogs, wikis, video sharing sites, hosted services, web applications, and mashups. Good instructional design requires developing lessons based on ideas and outcomes, and not on the tool itself. It requires careful selection of the tool that is most appropriate to support the instructional and content objectives, as well as a tool that is appropriate to student needs. Alan Kay used an example of a piano; "the music isn't in the piano." The tool can be used to amplify the ideas but our goal as academic teachers is to create lessons that are based on the content of our particular discipline.

Web 2.0 tools allow users to create and share content online. Also, Web 2.0 tools "live" on the Internet, with no need to download software to a computer. While there are many engaging and useful educational tools available online, only those that allow users to share their content via the Internet are truly Web 2.0 tools.

Web 2.0, Common Core, and 21st Century Skills

Web 2.0 technologies are becoming increasingly integrated into modern communication and productivity. In order for students to become fully participatory citizens, they must have the digital literacy skills to use these tools appropriately and effectively. As educators, we must consider:

What tools can support project-based learning and high levels of problem solving, collaboration, and creativity? How can we give students experience with producing and sharing content over the web?

While the Common Core State Standards focus on math, English Language Arts and content literacy, they also emphasize technology as a way to build knowledge and skills in these areas. Just as media and technology are integrated in school and life in the twenty-first century, skills related to media use (both critical analysis and production of media) are integrated throughout the standards.

Media/Technology Specific Standards in the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards

Reading: R.CCR.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

Writing: W.CCR.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

W.CCR.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

Speaking & Listening: SL.CCR.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

SL.CCR.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

P21 Framework

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) has long advocated for standards addressing both core academic knowledge and complex thinking skills. According to P21, "While the CCSS do not explicitly address every skill in the P21 framework, several areas (such as critical thinking, communication and collaboration) are strongly represented throughout." The P21 Common Core Toolkit explains the ways in which 21st Century Skills are embedded in the Common Core State Standards, and provides guidance on the ways in which P21 competencies such as Creativity and Global Awareness can be used as a part of a performance-based assessment system.

Image labeled for reuse: commons.wikimedia.org

Web 2.0 Tools for Project-based, Online and Blended Learning

The selection of Web 2.0 tools available is vast, and changing by the minute. In order to have a better sense of what is available, please read Web 2.0 How Do I Love You? from the Reflections From an Elementary Principal blog.

Common Sense Media's Reviews and Ratings site allows teachers to sort Web 2.0 tools by grade level, subject, platform, and more.


Kathy Schrock's "Guide to Everything: Online Tools & Web Applications" web page has everything and more about Web 2.0 tools for your classroom.

American Association of School Librarians "The Best Websites for Teaching and Learning in 2016" foster the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration. They are free, Web-based sites that are user friendly and encourage a community of learners to explore and discover.

The Noodle Staff has grouped these 32 Most Innovative Online Educational Tools to Use in 2015. Selections were based on how they are making a difference in student education. Categories include: classroom connectors, interactive information providers, language learning tools, online courses, presentation makers, productivity boosters, and reading enhancers. "We did not rank the 32 best because we believe that they are all excellent in distinct ways. What they share in common is the capacity to change your education."

Web 2.0 Challenges and Considerations

The excitement of offering cutting edge educational technology can be dampened by political and technological hurdles. The following list highlights several issues that should be considered when designing technology-enhanced lessons.

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Is it blocked? If so, is there a process for submitting the URL for consideration for removal from filtering? Your district must balance network security and accessibility of resources. Limiting exposure to inappropriate content may also block legitimate websites

Is it accessible? Depending on the needs of students in your class, you may want to stay away from tools that do not have options for students with vision, motor, or hearing difficulties.

Will all students get essentially the same experience with the tool or media? Some web-based resources are written for a specific operating system, or require plugins that students may not have. If students will be accessing the resource from home, it is important to sure that the tool is platform independent and does not require any unusual plugins or fee-based software.

How easy is it to embed? If a tool cannot be embedded, is there a way to link directly to the file that you want students to access? Embedded files typically do not require specific software, and may bypass adware that can be found on the pages of some Web 2.0 tools.

What student accounts are required for them to participate? How will those accounts be managed? Many sites have terms of use that require users to be at least 13 to sign up for an account, and your district policy may require positive parental permission in order for students to create accounts. Consider how passwords and login information for web-based services will be managed.

Most technology integration challenges can be mitigated through careful planning and communication. Before building an experience around a specific Web 2.0 tool, teachers should ensure that tool is available to students. In addition, districts and teachers should plan for student technical support needs in planning online and blended classes, and should have contingency plans in place to ensure that there is no interruption to student learning.