Web 2.0 is about sharing your ideas and opinios. It's about open source applications and free tools for everybody. It's about giving and getting.
Web 2.0 supports the idea of an active and creative learner. As tools for collaboration make the learning process visible, the focus changes from the product to the process. And thus, the teacher's role changes from a distributor of knowledge to a guide on the path of learning and understanding.
Web 1.0 is one-way Web 2.0 is two-way
Web 1.0 is authoritarian Web 2.0 is democratic
Web 1.0 is passive Web 2.0 is active
Web 1.0 is hierarchical Web 2.0 is network
Web 1.0 is static Web 2.0 is dynamic
Web 1.0 is read-only content Web 2.0 is user-generated content
Web 1.0 is about companies Web 2.0 is about communities
Web 1.0 is about client-server Web 2.0 is about peer-to-peer
Web 1.0 is about lectures Web 2.0 is about conversation
Web 1.0 is closed Web 2.0 is collaborative
Using a blog in a projectIn a learning project it's good to pay attention to which parts of the process can be shared with everybody and which parts should be carried out in safe and private environment.
On one hand, pupils' collaboration: forums, chats and wikis must take place in a secure protected environment. On the other hand, it's important to share the process and its outputs with the whole school, parents and the surrounding community.
Blogs are excellent for being used as project diaries. You can write there weekly what's happening in the project, publish pictures, make links to photo galleries and embed video clips, podcasts and presentations. You may also allow commenting, but blogs aren't good tools for discussions.
Remember to link your blog on the school homepage, so that it can be found easily.
Tools for planning a project
It's really important to share some information and discuss and decide a few basic things before you start an eTwinning project. Together with your partner(s) you should agree on
- project goals
- pedagogical contents
- the tools you'll use
- the timetable
Very good tools for this is Google Docs. Google Docs offers you a space where you can share and edit a Word-document together with your project partners. You can also publish it in the net, when you've completed it. It's quite easy (and free) to use.
How to share your documentsVery often etwinning projects are about learning to know different countries and their cultures. That usually starts from presenting your own culture and country in different ways.
Students can make short videos presenting their own school. They can make slideshows to present their home town and their favourite places. They can make podcasts (or videos) of their traditional songs. They can make photo galleries or photo stories about the surrounding nature. They can prepare quizzes and questionnaires etc.
Web 2.0 provides excellent tools for sharing all kinds of digital documents for free. You can show and share what you have accomplished, not only with your partners, but with the whole school, parents, surrounding community, with the whole world, if you like.
The procedure is simple: First create an account and upload your documents to the appropriate place on the web. Then you can link or embed your documents in your blog, so that they're easy for everybody to find and watch.
For videos: YouTube or TeacherTube or Vimeo
For PowerPoints and pdf-documents and presentations: SlideShare or Authorstream or Slideboom
For photos: Flickr or Picasa
For articles and photos and for creating a web magazine: Magazinefactory
Collaborative learning on the webTo enable collaborative learning on the web these preconditions are entailed:
- the pedagogical goal and content is clear to all participants (teachers and students) - planning
- the participants have learnt to know each other and there's a trust between the partners (teachers and students) - sharing
- there's a safe environment on the web, where direct communication and collaboration can take place
How to collaborateIt's good to remember that in an international project the participants very often communicate using a foreign language. The tasks should not require too demanding level of communication. Here are some examples of how to work together.
Learning conversations: Probably the most important way of collaborative learning and construction of knowledge. The teacher or a student writes a short introduction on a given topic or theme. The students discuss the topic sharing information, asking questions and/or solving problems. Part of this would also be commenting and giving feedback. The learning process is visible to everybody. It entails ability to communicate in foreign language (between partners).
Creating presentations collaboratively: Partners can divide work so that one partner produces a photo story, paintings, a comic strip or a video, and the other produces texts or subtitles or a report or a narration. Students can form small groups with partners from different countries and work together producing articles or presentations or a webmagazine.
Making comparisons: Partners coming from different countries and different parts of Europe can work collaboratively by comparing different aspects of their lives. They can create Wikis consisting of pages with tables comparing weather, natural phenomena, school days and holidays, local festivals, food and eating, daily habits, history, arts, architecture etc.
Creating problems, puzzles or quizzes: Students can create quizzes dealing with history, culture, politics, flora and fauna of their own country for each other. Asking good questions or presenting a problem in an interesting way is often a lot more demanding than finding the answers.
Virtual tour: Groups of students from different countries travel together virtually. Each member of the group suggests a place to visit. They divide work: one studies interesting sights, one finds informations about hotels, camping sites etc, one studies local culture and festivals etc. Then the group members share the information they have collected.
Tools for collaborative learning:
- Creating networks and communities with groups and forums: Spruz, SocialGo, Grou.ps
- Wikis for working together and creating shared documents: Wikispaces
- Working together and sharing documents: Google groups
- Mindmapping: bubbl.Us; Mindomo; Freemind; Mindmeister
- Web meetings: Elluminate; Flashmeeting
- Web magazines: Magazinefactory
- Virtual learning environments (VLE): Moodle, Udutu; eTwinning Twinspace (freely available when you have found a partner and registered an eTwinning project). Virtual learning environments provide you with a set of tools that can be used for collaborative learning. Those usually comprise all the above mentioned tools + some more like chats, polls and questionnaires, exams, learning journals, groups, glossaries, photo galleries
Tips for Teachers as Web Tutors or ModeratorsThe teacher's role is crucial when planning a learning process. In an eTwinning project, it's the partner teachers' shared responsibility to schedule the learning process, choose and provide appropriate tools, set the goals and plan the procedure. After that the focus should be on the learners.
- Teacher is a guide on the path students are walking. She/he let's the students walk independently, encourages and supports, helps in crisis, but keeps distance.
- At the beginning the teachers' responsibility is bigger, but towards the end, the students should take responsibility of their own learning and of the process/project.
- When the students face problems, they should have a teacher to turn to for help. On the other hand, the students should be encouraged to first try to solve the problems themselves.
- It's important that the students help and support each other. Teaching your peers is an essential part of collaborative learning.
- One of the most common mistakes is that the emoderator/teacher talks too much and imposes her/his own ideas very strongly.
- In learning, the process is much more important than the end product.
- Mistakes are an essential part of a learning process and often a very effective way to learn. They're nothing to be afraid of.
- When given the goal and support and appropriate tools, students usually come up with amazingly creative solutions.
- Project learning is always as much learning to learn as learning the actual subject matter.