Plato wrote in The Republic that “necessity is the mother of invention.” (Plato, 369 BC) While this continues to ring true in the digital age, I believe an update is needed. After working with web 2.0 tools, researching multimedia in the classroom, and thinking about integrating collaborative, connected technologies in the k-12 classroom, I have determined that reflection is the mother of innovation. The invention of web 2.0 tools gave birth to new methodologies for teaching and learning.
Prior to the integration of web 2.0 tools, teachers and students toiled away in isolation. The lone teacher lectured individual students who determined on their own what to do with information they received. Students and Teachers were connected by content on a rudimentary level. Teachers taught; students learned, period. Solomon and Schrum (2007) argue that “Web 2.0 signals a transition from isolation to interconnectedness. The tools allow multiple users to participate.” (p.13) The increase in participation in constructing knowledge brought about by incorporating web 2.0 tools connects teacher and student at a deeper level. I have always had issues with the teacher-directed learning model, now I believe it to be ineffective and at times detrimental to student learning.
As I reflect on my own learning process during this course, I realized the importance of purpose, and how purpose determined the extent of my connection to content. When I tailored the assignment to meet a need, I spent more time engaged in learning. I went out and actively searched the web for solutions to problems that arose, and actively constructed meaningful learning. Web 2.0 tools not only connected me with resources, but also with a community of learners. Collaborating with a team using available technology gave purpose to learning and made learning relevant. The ability to communicate, problem-solve and think critically afforded by using web 2.0 tools greatly enhanced my learning experience by engaging in a common purpose with diverse individuals.
My outlook on learning changed during this course. While I understood learning collaboratively and actively teach my own students the process of connected, reflective learning, I still often preferred to learn on my own. As a young student, I never really cared for “group work.” I never was taught the necessary skills nor did I see the purpose. As I reflect on the experience of collaborating on the website during this course, I realize how much I learned from my collaborators and the power of connected learning. I think our final product evidences the relevance of connected learning via the web.
This experience confirmed the importance of, according to North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, “bridging the gap between how students live and how they learn” (Soloman & Schrum p.19). I believe it is absolute necessary to design learning experiences rooted in 21st Century Skills. We live in an interconnected world where knowledge is literally at our fingertips and experts a click, tap or swipe away. Learning opportunities are not confined by time, space or location. The invention of web 2.0 tools facilitates the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge interactively, promotes the use of higher-order thinking skills, and meets learners where they live – in a digital, connected world.
Reaching learners requires educators to be innovative in the use of new tools for learning. Possibilities for creating and presenting content in novel engaging ways has never been greater and is unlikely to diminish. In a research study funded by BrainPOP LLC, SEG Research found that web 2.0 tools take “advantage of multimodal [brain] processing capability . . . and dramatically enhance student learning through multimedia instruction” (SEG, 2008 p.1). This is the greatest take-a-way for me, and what will influence my pedagogical decisions going forward. As I completed the work for this course, the majority of my time on task was spent using higher-order thinking skills indentified by Loren Anderson in his update of Howard Bloom’s Taxonomy to analyze, evaluate and create (Churches, 2008). In a digital world it is necessary to engage learners in their learning and thinking. The invention of web 2.0 tools facilitates engagement in learning and the construction of knowledge. Implementing these tools requires the educator to engage with them in a purposeful way. Reflecting on the process of learning, evaluating and creating with web 2.0 tools spawns innovative learning opportunities for students.
Plato (380 BC) The Republic. Athens, Greece:
Solomon, Gwen & Schrum, Lynne (2007) web 2.0 new tools, new schools. Eugene, Oregon: International Society for Technology in Education
SEG Research (2008) Understanding Multimedia Learning: Integrating multimedia in the K-12 Classroom. New Hope, Pennsylvania: http://www.brainpop.com/new_common_images/files/76/76426_BrainPOP_White_Paper-20090426.pdfChurches, Andrew (2008, April 1). Bloom’s Taxonomy Blooms Digitally [Web log post] Retrieved from http://www.techlearning.com/studies-in-ed-tech/0020/blooms-taxonomy-blooms-digitally/44988