Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Research on the Use of Web 2.0 Applications: Where are we at in the UK?

There is a lot going on in technology and education. Maybe it is time to look at what has happened to decide how things can be taken forward-realistically.

A Web2.0 Technologies for Learning at Key Stages 3 and 4 project at Nottingham University is doing just that. This project focuses on the use of Web 2.0 activities by students in Key Stages 3 and 4 in the UK. It is funded by Becta – the UK government agency with responsibility for policy and practice involving educational technology. It seeks to see how schools are encouraging communication and participation and how young people’s increasing involvement with social networking and the uploading of creative material is being channelled back into education.

An interesting website with more details about what web 2.0 is and case studies has also been developed alongside this project.

Lee Bryant from Headshift is also involved with the project and has also blogged about the other side of the coin to what appears to be for some the ultimate technological development.

Ewan McIntosh, National Adviser at Learning and Teaching Scotland also had a sneak peak at the research, where the concept of digital natives and digital immigrants is being questioned again.

“Their findings show that the preconception, evident in the original research question, that young people at large are being drawn "into a wide range of creative production – such as video, images, and expressive text, all of which can be uploaded, systematised, and shared", is a utopia reach by only a minority.”

According to Ewan McIntosh, the 4 educational focal points the research was likely to highlight in young people’s use of web 2.0 were expected to be: Inquiry; Collaboration; Literacies and Audience (Public / Private?).

However, “Coordination is not collaboration and many of these technologies actually bring about coordination, rather than rich collaboration where everyone pulls together”. Are we “so busy uploading materials and coordinating comments that we are not concentrating on the learning?”

In my own experience, one of the barriers for many teachers to develop such activities has been the TIME required to get started, rather than commitment to using ICT in an engaging way. We will have to wait for the report to be published to have further evidence about what the situation really is…

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