Exploring Web 2.0 For The Classroom

There are so many web 2.0 tools out there now I think it would be impossible to try them all out. But I did try out a pretty good amount during my technology class last Spring. We focused on tools that were useful in the classroom. I only found a few tools that I really thought would work for me, teaching secondary social studies, because I felt like many of the tools were meant for elementary students. I’m still hopeful though that I will learn about more tools that will be wonderful for secondary social studies.

Anyways, one of my favorites was TimeToast. I liked this tool because it allows you to create interactive timelines. Timelines have always been very helpful to me when learning about history but I definitely understand how they can be boring. TimeToast is a wonderful tool to make them more interesting to students. I could use them during a lesson to help students get a grasp on the sequence of events. Also, students could use TimeToast to create timelines as study guides. Below is a timetoast I made about nuclear events. I also really like that when you make one, you can view it in “text view”. I would love to be able to print these out but you are unable to, which is a major weakness of this tool. But, you can take a screenshot of it and then print that. (I had to take a screenshot of my timetoast because it wouldn’t show up when I embedded it. I think it had something to do with flash. But, I included the link so you can see it on the website.)

http://www.timetoast.com/flash/TimelineViewer.swf?passedTimelines=285828

Some other web 2.0 tools I liked are: Pixlr (a wonderful picture editor), Delicious (social bookmarking), and Google Forms (to make quizzes and what not). I look forward to expanding my repertoire of fun and useful web 2.0 tools!

 Google Reader is a great tool for consuming information from blogs and news sites more effectively. I haven’t used this tool before but I have heard of it. I never knew it was this helpful for keeping up with blogs! Since I use pinterest a lot, I am always finding new blogs that I would like to keep up with. But, I normally forget about them and they get lost in my bookmarks bar forever. I really like this Google tool. It reminds me of a “news feed” like on Facebook. But there are a few downsides to Google Reader. I don’t like how the tags work on it. I think it makes the sidebar look unorganized and I could only find how to tag a post at a time. I would rather just organize the blogs by folders (as seen in my screenshot above).

As for using this tool in the classroom, I think it would be great! I could see it being kind of difficult to set up, but I bet my students will be tech savvy. Being a social studies teacher, I really think it’s important for my students to know what is going on in the world. One of my goals is to have my students understand the issues that are going on in their society and be able to discuss these issues. By having them create their own Google Reader, they could follow blogs that would help them learn about and keep up to date with the news. I also really like that if I had my students blog, I could easily check what they are posting. Google Reader makes reading blogs more efficient and I love it!

The first Web 2.0 tool we are encountering in TPTE 586, a education class focusing on Web 2.0, is iGoogle. iGoogle is a startup or mashup. By using a page like iGoogle you can bring in information from numerous other websites onto one page. You can get all the information you want in one place! I haven’t used iGoogle before but I have seen/heard of startpages. Since I started reading blogs and news sites, I’ve mainly used twitter to keep up to date. But, I always miss a lot of information. I think iGoogle is an amazing way to keep up to date on your favorite blogs and news sites. I also learned about RSS feeds. RSS is how the information shows up on iGoogle. I had heard about RSS before but didn’t really know what it was. Now I finally know what the little orange image is on websites!

     Above is a screenshot of my iGoogle page. I added 4 tabs: home, education, tools, and just for fun. Many of the widgets I added were news sources. I also added some games, I especially liked the trivia widget! I think I could use this in the classroom but I don’t know if I would. The only way I can really think it would be useful in a social studies class is for the students to have easy access to news sources. But I wouldn’t have them browsing the news during class time. I think it would be most useful for me to make an iGoogle page that my students could visit on their own time to check out the news. I really like iGoogle but I like it more for personal use than educational use.

My name is Hannah Dudley. I am a grad student at the University of Tennessee and I’m currently taking a web 2.0 in the classroom class. I will be using this blog to talk about and share my experiences with the tools and technology we learn about. Next year I will be interning at a local high school, teaching geography and government. I think this blog will be useful because I will be able to look back and remember what I learned about.

Enjoy!