The skeptical teacher often looks at Internet integration in his or her classroom as just another way for students to find information. The teacher wonders what is the purpose of another research tool that provides students with content that is often misunderstood or misrepresented in the student’s work. In fact, I have felt that way myself at times when I’ve had students complete research projects. But one of the greatest innovations in technology-infused education has been the advent of Web 2.0 tools. This line of Internet use means going beyond using the web as a tool to collect information, it means becoming a contributor to the Internet. An interesting point has been made that students are becoming “read-only” Internet users: they take and take, but don’t give back. As educators, we want students to “write” also. Web 2.0 tools give students the opportunity to create on the Internet.
One of the absolute best Web 2.0 tools around today comes from Google (not a surprise, right?). Because Thompson School District has integrated Gmail for students and staff, there is access to a myriad of Google Apps. These include some of the most useful, and easily integrated, tools that I have seen in education. Some Google Apps include Google Drive (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and Drawings), Google Sites, and Google Calendar. All of these apps allow for the teacher to more easily communicate with students and parents, promote collaboration among students, and easily integrate valuable media to any activity. These will also eliminate the massive amounts of paperwork often seen on a teacher’s desk any day of the school year. Using these apps, students can begin the process of using the Internet to synthesize loads of information into authentic learning and start creating knowledge enriched content of their own.
By Joe Zappa
Updated post, originally published (6/15/2015) on Thoughts on Teaching Middle School Social Studies (J. Zappa).
Image Credit: Buygapps.com