Web 2.0 is a fairly new term that describes some of the recent changes to the World Wide Web. Traditionally the web was a place where people could get information it was ‘read only’. However in the last 5 years the web has developed. Now as well as being able to read information it is also possible to write to the web. Its two way, read and write. Wikipedia has a good article on web 2.0 and you can find that here. I would also recommend the ‘Coming of Age’ a free on-line book which talks about the new World Wide Web. Some people including Will Richardson prefer the name the read / write web.
Some of the Web 2.0 tools that we have available to us as teachers are Blogs, Wikis and Podcasts.
1) A blog is an on-line journal at can allow people to comment. They can be personal or public.
2) A podcast is an on-line radio programme that anyone can download. You can subscribe to podcasts through sites like itunes, which mean that new episodes instantly get delivered to you when they are produced. Ewan Macintosh once described this to me as the difference between going to collect your paper and having it delivered to your house.
Here's a nice little video to introduce web 2.0
Here's a nice little video to introduce web 2.0
Use Wiki’s for collaborative work. Wikis are great for getting students to publish quickly to the web. I use wikispaces but there are other alternatives. The good thing about wikispaces is that it is that the free service is advert free for education. You also get a free wikispace if you create an edublog.
I have used wikis as an alternative for students submitting a written weather diary. They could also be used for collaborative group work. The Dunbar Geography Wiki Space is a good example of when I have posted some instructions for students on a weather project. Wiki’s can also be used for collaborative projects for pupils and teachers. Have a look at our Extreme Learning Wiki and please feel free to contribute to the discussion.
The important thing to remember about Wiki’s is that you can always go pack to a previous version of a page. This means that you can’t actually delete anything and if you do delete something by accident it’s easy to go back to it.
Don’t forget that you can get your students to write Wikipedia articles. I have a number of former pupils that have contributed to the largest encyclopedia in the world.
Use a blog to set up your own departmental web site. If you want to set up a quick web site I would recommend using edublogs. It’s important to remember that a blog which doesn’t allow comment is just a web site. With edublogs which is based on wordpress you can decide if you want people to be able to leave comment or not for everything you post. It’s a really powerful free tool which is available to educators thanks to the work of James Farmer.
On the edublogs site there are a number of good on-line tutorials including:
Get students to set up their own learning logs (blogs). Students can also set up their own learning logs. You can use Learnerblogs for this which is the sister site of edublogs. Again I have used blogs to get students to record weather reports. Currently I am working on learning blogs with my S1 social education class. In these blogs they reflect on three questions:
- What they did at school this week?
- What they have learnt at school this week? and
- What they will do now?
I think this sort of experience would also be useful in Geography and perhaps a lot better homework experience than some of the exercises that we currently set in S1 and S2. I don’t agree with setting homework for homework’s sake.
Keep your own blog. The process of keeping a blog is incredibly reflective. I have learnt more about Geography and education in the last 18 months of blogging and reading blogs than I did in the previous four years. It becomes an incredible learning journey and allows you to collaborate with educators from around the world.
Other geography teacher blogs include:
- Digital Geography – Noel Jenkins
- Geography and all that jazz – Alan Parkinson
- Geography: my place and yours– Val Vannett
- Radical Geography Blog – Tony Cassidy
If you’re a geography teacher and you keep your own blog or you decide to start one – why not leave a comment below!
Create your own on-line radio station. Experiment with making podcasts. If you use a Mac you can use garageband which is part of ILife. It has a built in podcast function. Alternatively audacity is a great free alternative and is available for the Mac and PC as a free down load from http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ There is also now a portable version of Audacity available, which means you can run it staright off a pen drive and you don’t have to get it installed on your computer by the Council.
I have used podcasts before to make weather forecasts. Students used to come to my room at break time and produce programmes like this in the 20 minutes. They collected the data from the schools automated weather station.
You can find out how to make podcasts by looking a PC Pod a blog that was set up as part of a new technologies course that I helped facilitate for Learning and Teaching Scotland. Also check out this video which was also made on the course it shows how to make podcast with garageband.
One Geography specific podcast project is called GEOCASTS. The GEOCAST project was funded by Microsoft Partners in Learning and is an on-going project to create revision material for Geography. There are a number of current episodes that can be downloaded from the web site www.exc-el.org.uk/geocasts. Over the next six months more episodes will become available. You can also subscribe to GEOCASTS through itunes. Just type in ‘Geocasts’ to the itune search facility. (New Geocast site on the way soon).
Students can download these revision episodes to their computers, ipods, Mp3 players and mobile phones. If they have a video ipod or choose to watch the episodes on their computer there is also to visual content.
Mobile Phones. Most student shave mobile phones these days. To find out different uses for mobile phones in the classroom have a look at this article that I wrote as part of the 50 ideas presentation.
Computer Games. Consider
using games like Sim City during the
settlement unit. You can download the original version for free from http://simcit.ea.com. I have set this in the
past as optional settlement homework. I start to build a new city at the same time as the rest of the
class and we have a competition over 3 or four weeks to see who can build the
best city. I believe that students will learn more about city planning,
logistics and infrastructure by playing this than they ever will about me
rambling on about Burgess’s Concentric Ring Model! The good news is the Sim City is just about
to come out for the DS!
The other games that I sometimes ask students to play for homework are on the OS Map Zone web site. I know that they have played them because I ask them to take a screen shot of their best score and to email it to me or to print it out. This way I can set up a leader board in my classroom.
If you want to find out more about games
in education have a look at Derek Robertson’s Hot Milky Drink
blog on Games in Education. Don’t forget to try teaching about
Cities by swinging Spiderman around New York on the Nintendo Wii!