This week I am introducing my readers to this popular and very active web site, which positions itself as a “social network for those interested in Web 2.0 and collaborative technologies in education.” The site currently boasts over 20,000 members, and it is rich with content about the use of emerging internet technologies in the classroom.
I have been immersed in learning about Web 2.0 technologies in education for nearly a year now, and this wonderful site is the most active and useful site I have found that focuses on this subject. Founder Steve Hargadon has really done an outstanding job of developing a robust, dynamic platform for communication and insight into the uses of Web 2.0 technologies in the field of education.
One of the focal points of the site is a very active Discussion Forum. The many discussions that take place on the site are leveraged as a resource quite effectively by way of a menu of discussion topics (on the right hand side of the screen). Discussions are categorized by Tool (type of technology – Blogs, Presentation, Social Bookmarking, etc.), Subject (Art, Math, English, etc.), or Area (educational areas such as “assessment”, “elementary”, “gifted”, “online”, etc.). These discussions can provide valuable insight into a wide range of Web 2.0 technologies as they can apply in educational and instructional settings.
Anyone interested in Web 2.0 in the classroom would do well to click on a topic of interest in the listing and scroll through the various discussions posted. For example, if you click on the “Interactive Boards” link in the “Tools” category, you will see a half dozen relevant discussions, such as “How are you using your classroom smartboard?”, “Smartboard or Promethean”, and “Are Interactive Whiteboards Necessary?” Most of these discussions have a respectable volume of activity. These dialogues can provide excellent insight into the applicable technologies, from people who are really using them. Clicking on “How are you using your classroom smartboard?” and quickly perusing some of the replies there yields many informative comments, such as this one from Classroom 2.0 member Colleen McLain, which provided specific suggestions for the use of Smartboards in the classroom:
“Other ideas we encourage – adding your own audio with Audacity; showing video using the SMART Player so you can pause and annotate on the video then capture to Notebook; using Notebook to develop your lessons – allows for embedding of images, video, scanned documents, etc for a smoother flow of your lesson; capturing PowerPoint, Word, etc into Notebook for an interactive interface; document cameras for peer editing, displaying of exemplar examples of writing, student collaboration, etc.”
Another useful resource provided by the site is a weekly series of hour long webinars, conducted on Saturdays. Topics are announced in advance, enabling participants to be prepared with ideas and tools or links that they would like to share. The format utilizes a mix of video, desktop sharing, chat, and other tools to create a dynamic, interactive experience. Recent webinar topics have included: “Blogging with Students”, “Tips/Tools for Using & Managing Social Networks”, and “Moodle in the Classroom”.
The shows are recorded and available for review at: http://live.classroom20.com/archive.html
. In addition to providing a choice of audio or full video recordings, there are also links to related web-based content, such as a Wiki where participants can share feedback and show topic ideas.
New Monthly Webinars, with “PBS Teachers”
This year, Classroom 2.0 also began hosting a series of very interesting monthly webinars in collaboration with PBS Teachers
. Recent webinar topics have included “Looking for Lincoln: Changing Views of History, Changing Views of Race”, “Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives”, and “Remixing Shakespeare for 21st Century Students”. I viewed the recorded “Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives” presentation, which was viewed live by over 180 participants (some observations about my experience are cited below). Past webinars from the monthly series are available here: http://www.classroom20.com/events/event/listByType?type=pbs (click the “Previous” button, towards the bottom left hand side of the screen, to access the archived webinars).
Using the Elluminate collaboration tool to view or participate in a webinar
collaboration tool used to host these webinars provides for a productive, interactive session. You will probably need to install software from Elluminate to view these webinars (I did it, it was easy, and took me about 3 minutes on a cable based Internet land line connection, but the start up of the archived presentations themselves can be a little slow – at least it was for me)
. It was fun to watch as viewers clicked on a map to indicate where they were watching from and see such a dispersed audience represented, in such a dynamic manner. The polling tool provided immediate feedback on questions posed during the webinar. For example, this question was posed during the “Born Digital” webinar: “Do you write and post original text online using a blog, wiki, twitter or other publishing tool?”
, and 82 out of 180 participants said they do. One suggestion – if you are viewing a recorded webinar, you may want to use the ‘fast forward' button at points, or the slider, to jump ahead – this can help to make playback more productive if you don't care to sit through every minute of the recorded session.
In closing, Classroom 2.0 provides some great resources for educators who are interested in the use of these evolving technologies in the classroom. I should add that you do not need to be a member in order to view the resources provided in the site (but you do need to be a member to participate in the discussion forums). Stop by Classroom 2.0
and check it out today!