The purpose of Web 2.0 is to change that. By engaging learners with the content, rather than having students simply remember and understand content, we will create lifelong learners able to thrive in and beyond the 21st Century classroom. They will apply what they learn, analyze what they find, evaluate its purpose and accuracy, and create new knowledge and products. As a result, students learn from us and with us. Teachers allow the students to teach the teachers and fellow classmates. Most importantly, students maintain a certain level of control over what they learn and how they demonstrate their knowledge.
With the advent of new technology, teachers must understand that they may have to lose a level of control in the classroom. The classroom becomes a place to discover new information, not to cover a chapter in a textbook. The teacher becomes a resource, but not the only resource. For some teachers, this can be panic-inducing. Indeed, if we fail to prepare students by detailing and explaining our expectations for the process, it will create total chaos. On the other hand, if we begin a class, or even a unit, by teaching our expectations for student behavior, engagement, learning, communication, and final products, we may be surprised at what students can do and create.
As seen in David Warlick's article A Day in the Life of Web 2.0, people today are multi-taskers. Teachers listen to podcasts created by fellow educators while driving to school; parents read and contribute to Wikis created by members of the school community to inform and be informed about what is happening in the schools; students text each other to discuss new project ideas while researching information for the project. The school presented by Warlick is an idealized one in which teachers are able to work collaboratively across disciplines because they share students. Such a situation is not always possible, but as is mentioned in the video Shift Happens / Did You Know? by Karl Fisch, we must prepare students for jobs that do not yet exist to solve problems that haven't yet been imagined.
Finally, teachers must change both their expectations and their processes in the classroom. As the Internet was not commercialized until 1995, many teachers today taught themselves how to use it. Our students teach themselves how to play new games or use new devices all the time. In contrast, the same students often appear to have lost the ability to use common sense when combining technology with a classroom environment. Why? I believe that it is because schools have separated technology from the classroom for far too long. It is up to us as teachers to TEACH them how and when to use all of the tools they have at their disposal, including digital tools. By doing so, we can teach them not just our content but also the skills necessary to thrive in a world changing more rapidly than can be recorded.
Fisch, K. (2007, June 22). Did you know? [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://thefischbowl.blogspot.com/2007/06/did-you-know-20.html
Warlick, D. (2006, October 15). A day in the life of web 2.0. Retrieved from http://sddial.k12.sd.us/events/laptop_institute/Files/monday/warlick_harnessing_the_new_shape_of_information.pdf