Web 2.0 tools in the classroom

I’m currently planning a presentation on the use of web 2.0 tools in the classroom and how we might make best use of the kinds of interactive and collaborative possibilities some of these tools contain within the context of the classroom and the school.  In the process I’m actively looking for examples of students and teachers in action projects, and been frustrated sometimes at the negativity towards the educational use of these tools.

So, it was nice to read of Judy O’Connell talking of similar things, and similar frustrations over at her great blog, Hey Jude.  One of the things that resonated me was the fear and alarmism that rises almost reflexively when we start talking student collaboration using online tools and the gulf between educators confident and familiar with the tools and those with just enough knowledge to make them dangerous.

Yesterday, for example, the Melbourne AGE opened their page 1 story Pupils Subject to Phone Sexting, with

THOUSANDS of private school students have been asked to send naked pictures of themselves by mobile phone or the internet, and many more have been subjected to upsetting emails or online messages.

Sounds alarming doesn’t it? And I don’t want to underestimate the concern. But reading on you get a slightly different picture. It seems that

“Sexting”— the practice of taking explicit photos and forwarding them to friends or “potential suitors” — is also an issue for some students, with about one in 10 saying they had been asked by others to post a nude photo of themselves in recent months.

Now, since there were 4800 students in the total survey that’s 480. I guess you could extrapolate from that survey that over the whole of the school population the number would go into the thousands, but it’s certainly not what the opening sentence indicated. In fact, later one we hear:

Michelle Green, chief executive of the Association of Independent Schools of Victoria, which conducted the survey, said negative online experiences for students were relatively isolated.

Judy O’Connell writes:

We are starting to see a digital divide emerging in that some people believe they can talk about and research digital learning environments and social networking without actually being active participants in that world!  I like to see keynote speakers who can share their online digital identities with us, and prove to me that they really do understand the architecture of participation that is learning in our new century.

We are indeed, as well as a divide between the possibilities of utilizing  21st century tools in the classroom and those who, like the AGE yesterday, take the worst and most negative spin possible. And between the teachers wanting to help students create a positive online presence and those who would really like all this stuff to just go away.

In the spirit of particpatory learning, Judy O’Connell has also shared her presentation on Slideshare HERE