How I Use Web 2.0 in Education

For the final week of the Spring 2012 ENGL3043 cohort’s blog project, we’re reflecting on social media tools and what we may use in the future, especially as educators. Here’s what I do, currently. I’ve covered most of this in previous blog entries, but it never hurts to pull it all together in one list:

  • I keep up with our alumni on LinkedIn.
  • I send deadline reminders and communicate with students on Twitter, not only in my classes but sometimes tagged for the whole university.
  • I ask students to keep reflective journals in blogs, whether this means struggling with literary theories, discussing the highs and lows of a first-semester freshman at PV, or responding to multiple novels assigned for class reading. I respond to journals, publicly and as promptly as I can. I often quote a student’s blog postings when I write recommendation letters.
  • I use podcasts for topics that are difficult or for class sessions where I’ll be out of town at a conference.
  • I create surveys and collect data on student learning using Google Docs.
  • I ask students in a variety of classes to build wikis, usually as a form of service-learning, to create resources for a specific audience–and hopefully that audience will add more information and provide feedback.

In the future, I hope to start the following:

  • I will ask students in ENGL1143: Technical Writing to design their typical collaborative presentations using Prezi instead of PowerPoint.
  • I’ve looked into VoiceThread for our foreign language classes, but I want to explore the possibilities of a free account in an English classroom. Aside from the more predictable applications (asking students to read a passage in Old or Middle English; asking for dramatic readings of short poems), I want to see if it can help with a “flipped classroom” model that students find more engaging than a CMS/eCourses discussion thread–and possibly more convenient, since VoiceThread allows comments via text message. I can post a poem and ask everyone to comment with an image or quote they find fitting, and everyone can SEE the comments. At the very least, I’m seriously thinking of a VoiceThread test-run for ENGL3043 this summer, to introduce the software as one more Web 2.0 option for the 21st-century classroom.

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