Many educators are excited by and support the innovative and pedagogically invigorating technologies offered by the interactive and collaborative Web 2.0 movement. To date, much of the research on the integration of Web 2.0 tools has focused on technical and procedural generalizations about how one might incorporate these technologies into the classroom. While some research has addressed content-specific uses of these tools, only a limited amount has explored best practices for using these technologies to encourage learning. While these studies are groundbreaking and serve an important purpose, this article aims to shift the ongoing conversation toward a first-draft theory of potential best practices for web-based technology use. Suggestions for both specific and general best practices are examined, with the aim to both support and empower readers to actively explore and integrate these new technologies into the classroom.
Keywords: Web 2.0, web-based tools, K-12 education, educational technology, best practices, pedagogy
Toward a Set of Theoretical Best Practices for
Web 2.0 and Web-Based Technologies
The field of educational technology is growing and evolving at a rapid pace. With the emergence of Web 2.0 tools, educators are now able to integrate a vast array of technologies that support teaching and learning in innovative and authentic learning environments. It is undeniable that Web 2.0 tools have had a strong impact on education (Dawley, 2009; Dede, 2008; Green, Brown, & Robinson, 2008; Siemens, 2006). Effective and meaningful integration of these tools has the potential to impact not only pedagogical approaches but also student learning. This paper aims to shift the conversation from what types of technologies exist to how best to use these Web 2.0 technologies in educational contexts—namely, the elucidation of possible best practices.
Many educators are excited by and support the innovative and pedagogically invigorating technologies offered by the interactive and collaborative Web 2.0 movement. What began with blogs, wikis, and podcasts has grown into a plethora of Web 2.0 tools and web-based technologies. In fact, it is difficult to stay abreast of all the latest Web 2.0 tools, as new tools are materializing every day. Fortunately, multiple online directories are available that are frequently updated (e.g., http://www.go2web20.net/, http://www.feedmyapp.com/ and http://www.onlinedegree.net/100-essential-2-0-tools-for-teachers/) to help identify and track the ever-expanding array of open-source technologies.
Figure 1. Screenshot of Go2Web20, an online directory for teaching resources.
These new technologies have the potential to change the way teachers teach and radically alter the way we define learning and education—examples include Siemens’ (2006) connectivism learning theory; Mishra and Koehler’s (2006) technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) model; Papert and Harel’s (1991) constructionism theory; Wesch’s (2006) anthropological introduction to YouTube; and Turkle’s (1995) work with virtual worlds. In recent years, the educational community has started to explore ways in which one can use Web 2.0 technologies to support and enhance teaching and learning. This is evident in the literature, blogs, podcasts, and other forms of media that have burgeoned with information, perspectives, and reflections from both scholars and practitioners about how we can best use these technologies in educational settings (Ross & Williamson, 2009).
To date, much of the research on the integration of Web 2.0 tools has focused on technical and procedural generalizations concerning how these technologies might be incorporated into the classroom. While some research has addressed content-specific uses of these tools, only a limited amount has explored best practices for using these technologies to encourage learning. Some researchers (e.g., Conrad & Donaldson, 2004; Hendron, 2008; Palloff & Pratt, 2001; Warlick, 2004) have explored ways in which these new technologies can redefine pedagogy, even assisting with the creation of new areas of study and literature in online learning, online pedagogy, and both learning and teaching in online contexts. While these past research endeavors are groundbreaking and serve an important purpose, this article aims to shift the ongoing conversation toward a first-draft theory of potential best practices for web-based technology use.
Next, we provide a brief overview of Web 2.0 and web-based technologies, followed by a description of the philosophical and epistemological implications for embracing these technologies. Additionally, we offer two forms of best practices. First, we offer a list of “in general” best practices, which should serve as overarching practices for teachers and learners. We also generated a second list that addresses specific possibilities of how to best frame the use of Web 2.0 and web-based technologies to support teaching and learning. Second, we offer a brief exploration of some of the more popular tools, along with how one might apply these tools in practice. These reflections should serve as an introduction for K-12 classroom teachers as well as an opportunity to advance conversation among educators of all levels.