What is Web 2.0? Web 2.0 refers to a new and improved form of the World Wide Web. The following are some examples of Web 2.0 that teachers around the world are incorporating into their classrooms daily:
- Digital Storytelling
- Social Bookmarking
Why should I use Web 2.0? Early childhood teachers can use a wide variety of FREE Web 2.0 elements to help organize, expand, and support classroom instruction, some of it is super easy- here are some of my favorite FREE Web 2.0 tools:
- Social Bookmarking
- Web Based Library Cataloging
- Web Based Documents (Word, PPT, Excel, PDF etc)
- Web Based Calendars
- Personalized Home Page (iGoogle)
- On-Line Photo Sites
- Video Sharing (Teacher Tube, You Tube, Vimeo)
Don’t know what I’m talking about? Keep reading and I’ll show you how- it’s much easier than you think!
Social Bookmarking: From Wikipedia- “Social bookmarking is a method for Internet users to store, organize, search, and manage bookmarks of web pages on the Internet. In a social bookmarking system, users save links to web pages that they want to remember and/or share. These bookmarks are usually public, but can also be saved privately…”
The difference between social bookmarking and regular bookmarks or “My Favorites” is that this is a web based program which means it is accessible from ANY computer anywhere. “My Favorites” are only available on your home computer and therefore not as accessible. For example, if you are at home and you find a great website you can use at school, instead of sending a link to yourself or worse yet, writing it down on paper (*gasp*), you can simply save it to your social bookmarking account. The next day, when you go to school you can turn on your computer and access your social bookmarking account and see the link there. Better yet, if you install the social bookmarking toolbar on your home AND work computer you can have instant access to your bookmarks on both computers all the time!
I have discovered links via del.icio.us (my social bookmarking tool of choice) that I never would have been able to find before. I use my network to find new and useful links every single day.
Yet another unique feature of social bookmarking is the “social” aspect. This is what makes this tool stand out from any regular bookmarking tool. Most people understand the bookmark part, but they totally miss the boat on the social aspect. Here’s the deal- in order for social bookmarking to work you actually have to bookmark items! The more you bookmark the more likely people are to join your network who have similar interests. The more people that are in your network the more links to ideas you can discover…just watch the video found at the following link- Common Craft explains it better than I ever could!
Web Based Library Cataloging:
This is much cooler than it sounds. So you’re a teacher and you have a million books, right? How do you keep track of said books without pulling your hair out? The answer my friends, is a web-based library catalog. My web-based library cataloging site of choice is LibraryThing, but there are many others out there to choose from. No more long hours spent creating spreadsheets of all your books, LibraryThing does all the work for you. Here’s a description of LibraryThing:
“LibraryThing is an online service to help people catalog their books easily. You can access your catalog from anywhere—even on your mobile phone. Because everyone catalogs together, LibraryThing also connects people with the same books, comes up with suggestions for what to read next, and so forth.”
Here’s how LibraryThing works, it’s very simple. First, sign-up for an account- you can go free, paid for one year, or lifetime membership. Next, because it’s web based and doesn’t need any additional software, just start adding books to your bookshelf! You can type in the title or author and select your books that way, or you can buy a barcode scanner for $15 and simply scan the barcodes on each book in your collection.
The applications for teachers using this service are incredible. I have tagged each of my books with the “theme” or “unit” that they fall into. Some books that fall into more than one category I add more than one tag to. This way I can always find the books I need when I need them. Tagging my books allows me to view all the books at once that I own that belong to that category. For example, I have a tag titled “alphabet”, if I click on that tag it will show me all the alphabet books I own in my collection.
Web Based Documents: Have you ever created a file in Word or PPT that you needed for school? How did you get that document on your school computer so you could use it? Did you put it on a jump drive? Did you send it to yourself? Guess what? There’s a better way to do it that involves fewer steps and is much easier! Using web based document services is absolutely free and easy. My web based document service of choice is Google Docs although there are many out there to choose from. Here’s a description of Google Docs:
“Documents, spreadsheets, and presentations can be created within Google Docs, imported through the web, or sent via email. They can also be saved to the user’s computer in a variety of formats. By default, they are saved to Google’s servers. Open documents are automatically saved to prevent data loss, and a full revision history is automatically kept. Documents can be tagged and archived for organizational purposes. Collaboration between users is also a feature of Google Docs. Documents can be shared, opened, and edited by multiple users at the same time. In the case of spreadsheets, users can be notified of changes via e-mail”
On-line Photo Sharing: I use a variety of on-line photo sites such as Photobucket, Flickr, Shutterfly, and Snapfish. Photobucket and Flickr are considered photo sharing sites, while Shutterfly and Snapfish are more for creating things with your digital photos. I have used Shutterfly and Snapfish to create unique and professional looking items for my classroom such as a class yearbook, class scrapbook, and class Christmas and Thank You cards.
Flickr is one of the most popular photo sharing sites on the web. Flickr has many possibilities for classroom use such as virtual field trips, digital storytelling projects, slide shows and power points, digital student portfolios, and more.
Most school district filters block Flickr and with good reason, because it is a public site people can and do upload anything to it. Therefore, I strongly advise against using Flickr live in the classroom, instead, use it as a tool to enhance instruction by downloading photos to your computer first. You will also need to be careful about using copyrighted photos from Flickr, click here to read about the Creative Commons rules.
Video Sharing: This one is easy to explain, you can see firsthand how useful these videos can be. I enjoy using sites like Teacher Tube to see what other teachers around the world are doing. Sites like You Tube and Vimeo are also full of helpful videos, but also some that are not so helpful or downright offensive so never use these sites live in the classroom. Many district filters block You Tube, but some will allow Teacher Tube or Vimeo.
Just visiting Teacher Tube’s homepage you can view videos on every topic from how to add a new font to your computer to a catchy rap about the water cycle. My favorite videos to share with my students are by SuperSimpleSongs (don’t miss Magnetic ABC’s, 5 Little Monkeys, and Eensy Weensy Spider!)
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