Web 2.0 tools are representative of the requirements for active participation in the 21st Century and beyond, even more so with the integration of technology required by the recently updated national curriculum here in Australia. The skills required for use of these tools, such as critical thinking, organisation, creativity and communication are highly valued in today’s work environment and therefore need to be taught in school’s today. They closely match the general capabilities required by the Australian Curriculum.
However, in primary schools, access to many of these sites is limited in accordance with their usage policies. Many of these sites and tools require students to be 13 years of age or older and therein lies the limitation or barrier to take-up with the majority of classroom teachers I have worked with. It is a cultural shift at the teacher level as well as the student level. Whilst technology is a great motivator and can be used as a tool for engaging students in the environments that they prefer, it can also be a distraction, overwhelming for students who need less distraction and a challenge for teachers to implement because they need to be patient as students overcome the newness of the tool before they can begin to produce the level of work expected.
Teacher Librarians (TL’s) are therefore well-placed to be able to introduce Web 2.0 experiences for students, They can provide blogging as a class or with classes anywhere in the world, using their global networks. They can use wikis as a research tool as well as for research content, and so on. As TL’s see students from a wide variety of age groups they can experiment with Web 2.0 across these and identify and implement them in the library setting then assist class teachers with those most appropriate to specific age groups. Having the time to evaluate and program for Web 2.0 tools is of course a consideration for TL’s, but leveraging professional networks and exploring recommendations from others is always a good start. I recommend starting small, ironing out the kinks relevant to your school, students and technology, expanding from there and then assisting classroom teachers to spread use.
I don’t believe that TL’s can ignore Web 2.0 tools because they are best placed to become the champions of these tools. They can integrate them seamlessly with information literacy processes and digital literacy. The also provide excellent examples for positive digital footprint exploration.
The following links provide reviews/examples of useful Web 2.0 tools to use with students: