Monday, December 3, 2007

Week 6, Thing 15, Part 2

As I went about my work today, the ideas I had read about for this assignment were still rattling around in my head. I realized that I had focused my comments on the changes that libraries will be going through in the next few years. I really had not touched on the issue of how web 2.0 technologies will impact the student and how that will be integrated into the library's mission. And so....a second post to address this side of the issue.

When you come down to it, the place where web 2.0 technologies can have their biggest impact on education is in the area of student engagement. What these tools are creating, and the question they are calling, is the means for students to be actively engaged in their own learning. The model of the lecturing teacher and the silent student is going away. Students want to be involved in creating their own meaning in their education. They don't want to sit and listen to someone; they want to be active participants. Web 2.0 technologies give them the opportunity to take what they have learned, process it in an interactive way and demonstrate that learning in a multitude of ways. Not only can libraries be leaders in helping students to find the information they need to participate in this process, they should be equipped to allow students to interact with that information and produce a variety of products to show that learning. The focus in learning shifts from memorizing known facts to learning facts, then thinking about those facts in creative ways in order to construct new meaning. This is the kind of thinking that will be called for in the 21st century workplace. It is important that libraries be part of bringing this kind of learning into today's classrooms.

One last thought about accepting learning produced with web 2.0 technologies. I do not think that teachers should accept sloppy work. Kids generally like using these technologies, but that doesn't mean that they should just be able to throw anything together and have it accepted by the teacher. The same kinds of standards and expectations for judging work quality should still be in place for these kind of assignments. It is the job of the teacher to articulate the expectations and acceptable standards, just as they do with other projects. Just letting kids play around on the computer is not a learning outcome. Web 2.0 technologies should not be an excuse for sloppy teaching practice. Rather, they should enhance the regular expectations by expanding the ways that learning can be expressed.

Likewise, web 2.0 technologies can expand the way kids interact with reading for pleasure in the library. The library can be a place where kids share ideas, thoughts and feelings about what they have read. Web 2.0 technologies can provide the platform for doing this. Again, student engagement is the key goal. I am looking forward to the next couple of weeks of the tutorial because I think some of the upcoming tools may be useful in this way.

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