Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms

“The social connections that students are now making on the Web, the ability to share and contribute ideas and work, the new expectation of collaboration, the ability to truly extend the walls of our classrooms. . . these ideas are at the core of the Read / Write Web. As educators, it’s imperative we understand the implications of these capabilities for our classrooms.” Passionate writing from Will Richardson, supervisor of instructional technology and communications at Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, NJ.

A classroom teacher for more than 20 years, Richardson recently integrated weblogs, RSS, and related internet technologies into his curricula and is now an evangelist for the teaching and learning potential in what he calls “the Read / Write Web.”

In “Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms,” Richardson shares first hand classroom experience of how the read / write web opens up new possibilities for students to learn from each other and from authors and scientists and other professionals.

Blogging is fun, but student work can still be held to high standards. Richardson evaluates the quality of student blogging in terms of the intellectual depth of the posts, the effectiveness of the writing, the level of reflection regarding the ideas expressed, and the willingness to contribute to and collaborate with the work of others.

Richardson does not sidestep the risks involved in the opening up students and their work to the world via the Web. He explains how to create and communicate policies for security and safety. For teachers hesitant to begin using classroom weblogs and wikis Richardson suggests that a good entry point is to build a class portal to communicate information about the class and to archive course materials.

Students love an audience, and that potential online audience is one of he most important aspects of the read / write web. “The idea that the relevance of student work no longer ends at the classroom door can not only be a powerful motivator but can also create a significant short in the way we think about the assignments and work we ask of our students in the first place,” he says.

“Teachers are tapping into the potential of a World Wide Web that is a conversation, not a lecture, where knowledge is shaped and acquired through a social process, and where ideas are presented as a starting point for dialogue, not an ending point.”

Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms.
Will Richardson. Corwin Press, 2006. 149 p.

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