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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Since I started all this blogging and social networking thing, various people have questioned its value, and although I knew that it made a difference it was hard to 'quantify' that difference...

A BECTa report into the value of these tools has now been published...

Becta has published major new research into the use of Web 2.0 technologies, such as wikis, blogs and social networking, by children between the ages of 11-16, both in and out of the school environment.

The reports found that young learners are prolific users of Web 2.0 technologies in their leisure time but that the use of Web 2.0 in the classroom was limited. However, schools and teachers who are innovating in this area have found benefits, such as:

  • Web 2.0 helps to encourage student engagement and increase participation – particularly among quieter pupils, who can use it to work collaboratively online, without the anxiety of having to raise questions in front of peers in class – or by enabling expression through less traditional media such as video.
  • Teachers have reported that the use of social networking technology can encourage online discussion amongst students outside school.
  • Web 2.0 can be available anytime, anywhere, which encourages some individuals to extend their learning through further investigation into topics that interest them.
  • Pupils feel a sense of ownership and engagement when they publish their work online and this can encourage attention to detail and an overall improved quality of work. Some teachers reported using publication of work to encourage peer assessment.

The research also found that over half of teachers surveyed believe that Web 2.0 resources should be used more often in the classroom. However, the majority of teachers questioned had never used Web 2.0 applications in lessons, despite being frequent users of technology in their personal and professional lives. Their main concerns involved a lack of time to familiarise themselves with the technology and worries about managing the use of the internet in class.

The reports recommended that teachers should be encouraged to help learners to develop more sophisticated use of Web 2.0 technology and to give them the skills to navigate this space.

Tony Richardson, Executive Director Strategy and Communications, said:

"Some schools and individual teachers have been very innovative in developing their use of Web 2.0 to support learning. However, clearly teachers need the support, time and space to develop skills and practices that will allow them to integrate Web 2.0 into lessons. The report shows that the impact that Web 2.0 can have on the motivation and engagement of pupils. We need to ensure that these benefits are extended to all learners."

All very encouraging, and in many Scottish schools, as was apparent at last week's Scottish Learning Festival, this was flourishing...
Down here in England, perhaps less so. There are some innovators out there...
I'd like to work with those innovative geographers and gather some examples of how people are making use of the social web tools to engage learners.
Please get in touch if you would like to showcase something that YOU do....

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