Schools Adopt Web 2.0 at Teachers Urging

In grades kindergarten through 12, the teachers, rather than the administration, are pushing to adopt Web 2.0 tools. The “National Online Survey of District Technology Directors Exploring District Use of Web 2.0 Technologies” report, commissioned by Thinkronize and Lightspeed Systems and conducted by Interactive Educational Systems Design, looks at seven categories related to student instruction and learning environments.

Teachers embrace advanced Web platforms as teaching tools to engage students on a level that interests them. For marketers the immediate opportunities may be lean, but students learning Web 2.0 technologies in school pick up the behavior outside of school and in life beyond school.

Key reasons to adopt Web technologies include addressing students’ individual learning needs, such as different learning styles, reading levels, language proficiency, and academic proficiency (54 percent); engaging student interest (41 percent); and increasing students’ options for access to teaching and learning (33 percent).

The study breaks adoption into seven categories related to student instruction and learning environments:

  • Student-generated online content: Class blogs, online posting of student work, and wiki-type collaborative formats
  • Teacher-generated online content: Teacher-developed multimedia presentations, lesson plans, student handouts for classroom activities, sets of links to digital resources
  • Online social networking used as part of instruction: Student exchange of e-mail or text messages for educational purposes during school, Facebook-style online utilities for educational purposes, and opportunities to communicate online with students from other geographic areas
  • Online learning games and simulations: Online drill and practice games, multiplayer simulations, and virtual world and Second Life-type environments
  • Student use of virtual learning environments: Online courses, electronic tutors, computer-managed instruction, and online assignments and assessments
  • Multimedia resources: Podcasts, videocasts, and streaming video
  • Online communications tools for parents and students (outside of school hours): Homework pages, teacher Web pages describing assignments, teacher blogs, and sites for checking grades online (but excluding e-mail exchanges)
  • In some districts, these activities have already begun; in others, plans are in place. Roughly 64 percent of the districts say 25 percent of the teachers use teacher-generated online content. Respondents expect this to be the next growth area, as 46 percent have a plan for adopting and promoting the use of this technology. Interestingly, very few teachers use online social networking as part of instruction. Eighty-three percent of technology directors taking part in the survey said few or no teachers currently use the technology. Many districts have policies that don’t allow the use of these platforms, and only 9 percent have plans in place to adopt social networking platforms. Additionally, half of the respondents indicated that within their districts about 75 percent of teachers use multimedia resources. And among 56 percent of the districts, about 75 percent of teachers use online communication tools with parents and students.

    “We saw that teachers and school districts were at different levels of implementing technology,” said Ileana Rowe, VP of marketing at Lightspeed.

    The Web offers a way for teachers to connect with students. It also prepares students in business and social behaviors. “Students are powering down all their devices to go to school, said Randy Wilhelm, CEO of Thinkronize, one of the study’s sponsoring companies. “Teachers are hunting for ways to find connections with students, looking for a-ha moments, and one of the top reasons is to address students’ learning needs. Standing in front of 28 kids and teaching isn’t cutting it anymore.”

    The study finds teachers use the Web to gain a greater perspective for their students. “It’s global mindshare. A lot of teachers are approaching this as a global campus. Any time you can have blogs or wikis, it’s a tremendous benefit,” said Scott Garrison, president of Lightspeed Systems.

    The report is part of a national survey of 501 district technology directors.

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