The Role of the Pedagogue in Technology Integration
Author Katherine Vazquez
Electronic learning is revolutionizing both how students learn and how teachers teach. Teachers must strive to accommodate students who love to use platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and for whom “texting” has nothing to do with text books. Although modern educational infrastructures support Internet capability, the majority of e-learning and use of digital tools is home-based rather than school-based. During this technology suffused era, it is crucial for instructors to incorporate new media into their course curricula in order to optimize educational success and foster a climate of globally competitive citizens who are proficient in new technologies. Chapter 1 focused on popular Web 2.0 tools and freeware that serves the economically disadvantaged who may not have access to more sophisticated and expensive hardware and software (O’Connor-Petruso et al., 2010).
The term Web 2.0 is associated with web applications that enable participatory information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration online. A Web 2.0 site allows users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to traditional websites where users are limited to the passive viewing of content that was created by others. Examples of Web 2.0 include social networking sites, blogs, wikis, video sharing sites, hosted services, web applications, mashups and folksonomies.
Web 2.0 technologies offer teachers new and exciting ways to engage students in a meaningful way. Children raised on new media technologies are less patient with completing worksheets and hearing lectures because they already participate on a global level. The lack of participation in a traditional classroom stems from the fact that students receive better feedback online. Web 2.0 exposes students to a form of education that is active and constantly evolving. Whether it is participating in a class discussion, or participating in a forum discussion, the technologies available to students in a Web 2.0 classroom increase their levels of participation.
By allowing students to use the technology tools of Web 2.0, teachers are granting students more autonomy over their education and letting them share their discoveries with their peers. One of the many implications of Web 2.0 technologies on class discussions is the idea that teachers are no longer in strict control of discussions. Instead, technology integration tends to move classrooms from teacher-dominated environments to ones that are more student-centered. While it is still important for us, as pedagogues, to monitor what students are discussing, the actual topics of learning are being guided by the students themselves.
There are many ways for educators to use Web 2.0 technologies in their classrooms. They can start by determining the technological skills and abilities of their students by administering “a needs assessment survey on Information Age skill at the onset of the semester” (O’Connor-Petruso et al., 2010). Podcasts make lessons more dynamic and interesting and weblogs, for instance, are not built on static chunks of content. Instead they are comprised of reflections and conversations that in many cases are updated every day. Weblogs give students a public space to interact with one another and the content of the class. As long as the students are invested in the project, the need to see the blog progress acts as motivation as the blog itself becomes an entity that can demand interaction. However, in order to make a Web 2.0 classroom work, we as teachers must also collaborate by using the benefits of Web 2.0 to improve their best practices via dialogues with colleagues on both a small and a grand scale.
As most college students know, web-enhanced, blended, and fully online courses are now regular features of higher education offerings. Course management systems (CMS) organize and represent the digital face of classes, making student-teacher/student-student communication easier and serving as a space for the uploading of assignments and the dissemination of information. Blackboard, WebCT, ANGEL, Desire2Learn and other products have dominated the CMS market, but now face stark competition from free, open-source programs like Moodle and Sakai. This is because many schools are unsatisfied with Blackboard’s glitches and poor, non-intuitive interface. Jeffrey Ruth states that, “Although the 56.8 percent market share of Blackboard/WebCT is enormous, it has dropped steadily over the last four years. In 2002 that share was 76% and as recently in 2007 it held 67 %. Most notably, however, the falling share of Blackbord/WebCT can be contrasted with the rise of open source products, Moodle and Sakai. Moodle is especially well represented in private, four year colleges( E.g. Bryn Mawr, Carlton, DePauw, Lewis and Clark, Macalester, Reed, Smith) and in Community Colleges, while Sakai us slightly more represented in four-year public Universities” (Ruth, 2010). Statistics like these are a reminder that resources are constantly changing and improving, and, at elementary, high school, and college levels, instructors need to keep informed of the latest and best tools out there.
O’Connor-Petruso, S.A. (2010). From Globilization Text: Embedding Sychronous Technologies & Sourceware into Curricula. In F. Girelli-Carasi, & S. A. O’Connor- Petruso, Globalization: Technology, Literacy, & Curriculum New York: Custom Publishing.
Ruth, J. S. (2010). Beyond Blackboard: An Update on Course Management Systems. In F. Girelli-Carasi, & S. A. O’Connor-Petruso, Globalization: Technology, Literacy, & Curriculum New York: Custom Publishing.