Hello, my name is Suzanne Masters. Welcome to my slidecast, Web 2.0 in the classroom: The impact New Technology is having on multiliteracies practices
Literacy in the classroom is evolving to include not just reading and writing, but multiple avenues of communication. Students are now working from a multimodal viewpoint that includes multiple literacies. In an effort to support this change, Web 2.0 has been introduced into schools as a way to help students communicate their personal thoughts, ideas, and knowledge in a variety of different ways. The introduction of this technology has both pros and cons with regards to its ability to support Multiliteracies in the classroom.
When people think of literacy images of reading and writing are conjured. This view is, however, no long accurate. Students in the 21st century are required to think of literacy and learning in new and constantly changing ways. They need multiple ways of communicating their own personal thoughts, ideas, and knowledge. The concept of multiliteracies was coined by the New London Group to describe the increased focus on multiple modes of representation and communication that are now present in school.
Students are required to make use of linguistic, visual, audio, and spatial modes of expression to help express their ever changing understandings and knowledge. Due to the changing expectations of students, changes in the classroom and teaching practices are needed. Many researchers believe Web 2.0 has the potential to support multiliteracies practices in the classroom because of its social nature and ability to provide students with the opportunity to create information dynamically through multiple mode of communication.
Web 2.0 consists of web applications, such as podcasts, blogs, youtube, facebook, and social bookmarking sites that focus on social interaction and active participation of users.
Children do not become literate in a manner that is separate from the rest of their lives. As students engage in literacy activities they are developing their identity through the use of language as a means of making sense of the world. Identity, or how a student sees themselves in a certain context, expresses their understandings and ideas, and how they use language to communicate, has multiple layers. Students need learning opportunities that allow them to express, negotiate, and reconstruct these multiple layers during everyday experiences. The inclusion of multiliteracies in the classroom will provide students with these important opportunities through access to a variety of multimodal ways in which to express themselves.
While multiliteracies can encourage the development of student identity, meaningful activities are essential. Literacy activities should be developed with the individual student in mind and should encourage students to view the world and themselves from multiple perspectives. Meaningful activities allow students to make decisions based on their own thoughts and beliefs, not those of others, thus creating a strong sense of self in each student.
Research has found that students in a Web 2.0 environment integrate a strong sense of self and identity into their learning through the expression of thoughts and ideas to co learners. Students are given the opportunity to express identity through online profiles, postings, podcasts, and personal social network pages that offer literacy opportunities that are multimodal in nature and lend themselves to the multiliteracies approach. Web 2.0 provides students with many ways in which to represent who they are.
As multiliteracies become more prominent in the classroom, changes are needed in the learning environment. The traditional view of the classroom that is centered around the teacher and involves students passively sitting and listening is no longer appropriate.
The learning environment is shifting from teacher-centered, to student-centered, and the role of the teacher is shifting from that of absolute controller to facilitator and supporter. In a multiliteracies classroom, the teacher’s main role is to provide students with experiences and opportunities that meet their own personal needs and engage them in actively participating and contributing to the own learning.
Research shows that in order for students to be actively engaged in new forms of literacy they need to be active participants in their own learning. Multiliteracies are by nature more participatory and collaborative then traditional forms of literacy because they allow students to create meaning through active involvement in meaningful collaborative learning experiences. A multiliteracies learning environment has created a participatory culture in today’s schools. A participatory culture is a learning environment in which students are provided with many opportunities to freely express their own thoughts and ideas, and are free to create and share their own creations that represent their knowledge.
In order for teachers to successfully create a student-centered, participatory culture in the classroom they must find new ways for students to collaborate and communicate. Today’s students need new, multimodal spaces in which to communicate their thoughts and ideas while they collaborate with peers. Web 2.0 has the ability to place the student at the center of learning by focusing attention on student created content and allowing students the chance to represent their knowledge how they choose, not how the teacher tells them too. \\
Web 2.0 also supports collaboration amongst students, helping to create the participatory culture that is essential to multiliteracies. The participatory culture of Web 2.0 allows for increased sharing of content between users and a departure from the traditional textbook focused version of learning that did not support student collaboration. Students are already using Web 2.0 outside of school to communicate and collaborate with peers. Web 2.0 will allow students to create, post, change, combine, and comment and not only their own work, but also the work of peers. It helps create a sense of community amongst students that will help them feel as if they belong, which will make students feel comfortable sharing and collaborating with peers. Wiki software, for example, promotes a participatory culture as if allows students to work together to generate, edit, and mix a variety of individual ideas and knowledge to create a full view of a subject.
While Web 2.0 shows the potential to support multiliteracies in the classroom, what effect does it have on student achievement and engagement? While evidence does exist that suggests Web 2.0 can increase students achievement, there are a limited number of studies that support this statement. This lack of studies may be due to the infrequency of quality implementations of Web 2.0 in the classroom, leading to questions about it’s ability to increase student achievement. There are, however, more studies that link the use of Web 2.0 to student engagement, a key factor when looking into student achievement.
Providing students with highly engaging activities that are linked to personal interests will increase student engagement, and therefore student achievement. Student engagement in a multiliteracies classroom should be based on increased attention to active learning and higher order thinking that promotes the individual needs of students. Active participation is critical to student engagement in literacy learning and requires both teachers and students to view the classroom as a community of learners that work together to create a successful educational experience
In order to support the active participation, and therefore engagement, of students in a multi-literate classroom, the inclusion of technology into the curriculum has been suggested. Students working in a Web 2.0 environment have been found to be more engaged and successful when compared to students not using Web 2.0. It has also been found that the incorporation of Web 2.0 has the potential to shift teaching and learning from a passive activity to one where students are active and engaged. Students working with Web 2.0 can also exhibit higher levels of participation than those working in a traditional learning environment.
While there is much evidence that supports the use of Web 2.0 in the multiliterate classroom, there are factors that can effect the successful implementation of Web 2.0 thus effecting its ability to support a multi-literate learning environment. Educational technology, such as Web 2.0, is often seen as a fad, here today gone tomorrow. Technology is also seen as a quick fix solution, a temporary solution that promises a great deal but very often falls short of that promise. Technology is always changing, with newer ideas being introduced every day. As the allure of the new reaches educators they have a tendency to cease old practices, such as Web 2.0, in favour of newer technologies. The potential of technology is often not realized before it has been deemed no good, or too old in light of the emergence of even newer technology.
In many classrooms teachers are still trying to catch up to Web 1.0, while Web 2.0 is in danger of becoming old news as Web 3.0 is already being introduced as the newest development for Web technology.
The continued use of Web 2.0 in the classroom is dependent on the ability of educators to perceive the potential of these applications and how to use them properly. While evidence suggests there are teachers using Web 2.0 in the classroom, their use of these applications to support multiliteracies learning is limited. Many teachers simply do not see the link between technology and literacy. One barrier that is contributing to the problem is the lack of support for technology in the traditional literacy curriculum that many teachers are still working with. There is currently a mismatch between technology and curriculum when it comes to multiliteracies learning.
Many teachers are unfamiliar with new forms of literacy and therefore do not understand what resources they need to successfully implement the necessary changes in the classroom. These teachers are also unfamiliar with Web 2.0 and are unable to connect it to multiliteracies instruction. They are lacking the strategies needed to understand both multiliteracies and Web 2.0 and how they can work together to support student learning. Fear of the unknown can lead to limited use of both multiliteracies and Web 2.0 practices in the classroom.
Web 2.0 does not support multiliteracies learning when a lack of authentic communication amongst students exists, when collaboration between students is low, or when student discomfort in the learning environment is present. Many students prefer communicating in the actual classroom and asking students to share their work in a public place, such as a blog, can undermine the trust that has been created between the student and teacher. Many students are simply uncomfortable putting their personal thoughts out there for everyone to read and perhaps criticize.
While blogs have been promoted as a forum for students express there personal thoughts and ideas, research has found that students often write what they believe the teacher wishes to hear, not their own understandings. This undermines the use of blogging to support multiliteracies learning. Web 2.0 is supposedly based upon the idea of people collaborating in a social setting, sharing knowledge as they communicate. Blogs are often used to allow students to collaborate while working to share and combine knowledge. This is not, however, always the case. Research shows that blogs often involve a series of self-contained posts that show very little collaboration between peers.
Web 2.0 is often viewed as a solution to educational problems, but it is not. Before implementing new literacy instructional practices it is important to determine the extent to which multiliteracies really create opportunities for the use of technology. Many people forget that while opportunities for multiliteracies instruction occurs in school multiple times each day, access to computers and Web 2.0 occurs less frequently, sometimes only once a cycle. It will be hard to include meaningful literacy activities that are centered only on the use of Web 2.0 into daily practice. Also, many students simply do not want to use Web 2.0 in school, they view it as something they do at home, and prefer using applications such as facebook and youtube for purely social and entertainment reasons, not educational ones.
Educators need to evaluate their view of what literacy is and what they need to do to support students literacy learning in the ever changing learning environment. Literacy instruction needs to move beyond the traditional view of a basics based approach and move towards the incorporation of new literacies. Multiliteracies will requires a multimodal approach to learning that will require a beyond the traditional, community approach to literacy that allows learners to understand literacy not just in the classroom, but in wider real world contexts.
Multiliteracies learning environments require a student-centered approach that is focused on providing each individual students with multiple ways in which to represent their thoughts, ideas, and knowledge. Web 2.0 has the potential to support the development of student identity through student engagement in multimodal learning activities that allow for student collaboration. Through the use of Web 2.0 tools, students are given the opportunity to express themselves freely and develop a concept of who they are as an individual.
Web 2.0 can only support multiliteracies learning if educators develop new understandings of what technology can do for learning and fully embrace its use in the classroom. Teachers need to work with, not against, the increased power of the individual that exists in the Web 2.0 environment to support multiliteracies.
Continued study of Web 2.0 use in the classroom will help avoid the disappointment of another failed educational practice and keep Web 2.0 form becoming just a fad. Curriculum reform is need if Web 2.0 is going to successfully support multiliteracies in the classroom and teacher training will be needed in order for these changes to be successful.
Multiliteracies is the way of the future. Schools need to adjust curriculum and teaching practices to include activities that are multimodal in nature and support student learning in multiple forms of literacy. While technology and Web 2.0 can definantly support this goal, it is important to remember that it is not the resource that is being used but the way in which it is being used. While technology can successfully support student learning, it is not the only way for teachers to create a multi-literate classroom.
1. Suzanne MastersEducation 6390, Summer 2011
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