Thursday, September 11, 2008

ECER 2008 - teachers and Web 2�0 technologies: practice, pitfalls and potential

Live blog from a session at ECER 2008.

Presented by Tony Fisher, Rebecca Graber and Colin Harrison from the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom.

Demos report: Digital Curriculum - Their Space. Recognised the potential for educational uses of social networks and Web 2.0 technologies. See also Social Software and Learning from Futurelab.

Part of the context in which teachers have to make decisions is the media interest, often highlighting the dangers, in social software.

Some themes emerged from teacher interviews. Teachers are concerned about the time it takes to do these things - to get to know the tools and to use them effectively. Teachers' attitudes to risk - personal risk as well as risk to pupils. Awareness of pedagogical opportunity - can be chicken and egg since you can't see educational uses until you have used it yourself. Contradictions raised by Web 2.0 tools, for example encourages collaborative work but individual assessment remains the norm.

Teachers know the Web 2.0 is motivating and widely used outside school. One teachers sharing his Facebook account but found pupils were not particularly interested in commenting on his facebook. Another teacher found Facebook too much work and committed Facebook suicide.

The example was given of a classroom rules wiki that had outrageous rules (e.g. "You must run in class"). The pupils were outraged, so the teacher showed them how they could edit it and an agreed rules wiki was created.

Only two schools in the sample didn't block YouTube! There is a major problem with the perception of risk. Teachers were aware of the need for propriety and were very carefful about what they would do. The speed of change is a major problem. Since technology is moving so fast, it is only the innovators and early adopters that have any hope. Everyone else will get left behind. Schools will never keep up!

Do you need pedagogical change before use of Web 2.0 becomes effective or will it drive pedagogical change? Do we have to question the whole nature of school?

Questions: Found that teachers access to hardware and Internet was as good if not better than pupils but social networking and online games were much lower than pupils. Email was the main use for teachers.

There was one example where a pupils was caught "making and instant messaging program". He'd hidden it on the school server and pupils were using it to help each other with Maths! School found it and removed it but he is now part ofd a group of pupils advising the school on new technology!

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