Sunday, 7 October 2007

Web 2.0 and an attitude

The advent of Web 2.0 is leading to a lot of hype about the potential for social networking to transform teaching and learning, allowing teachers and students to work in ways more familiar to young people who have been variously described as the 'Net generation' or Digital Natives', those born since 1984.

The question is: is the hype justified? Do the applications of Web 2.0 actually offer education access to the ways in which young people work? In my experience, not without changes in how curricula is perceived and taught. The buzz word for some time in the educational literature has been 'constructivist', but while everyone (well, most) agree with many of the tenants of constructivism, once the pointy end of the curriculum is reached (exams), then more traditional behavioural, teacher-centred approaches are the norm.

I would like to suggest, however, that 'constructivism is NOT the enemy of exam results!'

There is considerable evidence that allowing students more control of their learning environments, using more flexible means of assessment (for example, portfolios and ePortfolios), allows students to achieve more. Web 2.0 applications can help achieve some of these goals by providing new ways of engaging and learning. For example, a quick search of the recent conference publications on using Second Life for teaching and learning will surprise many. More soon.