Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Web 2.what?

I never did see the notification about the update for the internet, so when I heard the term "web 2.0," I had no idea what it meant.  I had to use the original web 1.0 to figure it out.

The best way I can describe the concept of "web 2.0" is not in the way that the internet itself has changed, but how we as a society use it.  When the internet first became accessible to American households, we posted information on websites, sent letters electronically, and used chat rooms to talk to people we had never seen.  Today people focus their whole lives on the internet through programs like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram.  I got an invitation to a baby shower on Facebook last week for a girl I haven't seen face-to-face for 2 years.  Since the last time I saw her, she got a new boyfriend, got engaged, got married, and is now about to have a baby.  All of this I learned through Facebook and Twitter.  There were no phone calls, no invitations brought to me by the US post office, and no congratulatory hugs.  Web 2.0 encompasses the social aspect of the internet more than the utility.  Some people's whole social world is based online.  That is how I understand "web 2.0." Specifically, it seems that the web 2.0 tools are the ones that involve social networking online.

The trick, now that we understand that we are living in a web 2.0 world, is determining how to use it to our advantage.  As a future teacher, I can see many advantages to incorporating web 2.0 into my classroom.  Web 2.0 gives me the opportunity to join online groups with other educators.  We can network among our team, between school districts, across the country, even internationally.  We can share lesson plans, documents, or even data on new teaching methods for professional development.  My administrators will be able to check in and see what my class is doing without being intrusive and potentially disturbing an activity or lecture.

The biggest advantage to using web 2.0 in a classroom is the way that it can benefit student involvement.  If my friends and I spent all day writing term papers to each other, then I probably wouldn't have minded writing a term paper for class.  That would just be what we did--the normal thing.  Unfortunately, students don't write term papers for fun, so when they are assigned a research paper students moan and complain and find any reason at all to not do it.  What if we consider the way that students communicate today.  What if we let them communicate their research to us as teachers the way that they would communicate to each other?  Many of the software programs available to schools and teachers mimic the social networking sites students use all the time.  Teachers can set up assignments involving discussions just like the ones students have every day on Facebook.  Students will be much more excited to do their homework if it seems easy, and what could be easier than that?