Many teachers are currently out-of-date with Web 2.0 tools and do not know how to use them at all. This is clearly a major hindrance towards them using these tools in their classrooms. However, I would argue that it is not the only reason these tools are largely unused in education. I would consider myself somewhat of a "digital native" in that I grew up with the advent of "Web 1.0", personal computers, video games, etc. Even though I am familiar with many of these tools on a personal level, I currently lack the pedagogical skills and knowledge to help my students learn to use these tools, as "learning the tools is easy, learning with the tools is more nuanced" (Richardson, 2010, p. x). The current philosophy on teaching reading to young students is they are not learning to read, but reading to learn. Likewise, students should not necessarily learn to use Web 2.0 tools (as many of them already have this know-how), but instead should be using these tools to learn.
Another reason these tools haven't become widely popular in the classroom is that the constructivist, user-generated content nature of Web 2.0 tools is sometimes seen as a threat to traditional curriculum. Why take risks with students communicating with others when there are facts to learn and tests to take? "Whereas students are open to the ways of new technologies, schools by and large are not" (Richardson, 2010, p. 8). From my experience, I would also argue that parents are hesitant about this new way of learning. Some parents see the Web as a platform for games and entertainment and don't see it for its educational value. Also, when students generate their own content for the world to see, parents are sometimes worried about privacy and safety. At my school we have a publicity release form, which is given to all parents to sign at the beginning of the year. Initially this form was to allow pictures of their students to be featured in local newspapers, should the opportunity arise. Lately, our school has had to start conversations about the possibility of creating a more specific release form to include pictures, videos, podcasts, blogs, and other student-centered and student-created content. The school is trying to find a way to help parents open their eyes to the transformative power of online publishing, a necessary step before moving forward with many of these tools in the classroom.
Of the tools we will be learning about this semester, I am very excited about learning how to use Twitter in my classroom. As an elementary General Music teacher, I only get to see my students once a week for 45 minutes. I would love to be able to harness the communication power of Twitter to connect with my students outside the classroom, so that they can think about and learn beyond our 45 minutes together. I already have a personal (locked) Twitter account, but I am thinking about making a separate one for this purpose. I am also interested in creating an RSS feed for my classroom blog. While I try to post weekly, the amount of traffic I get to my website is pretty pitiful. If parents, students, and administrators could subscribe to an RSS feed of my blog, it would most likely reach a much wider audience.
Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful Web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Publishers.