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Web 2 - What Impact Has It Had On Science Teaching?
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Why does technology often make you feel like there is a big conspiracy and you are the last one to know?

Terms like Web 2.0 are thrown around with such abandon that they are just as likely to be incorporated into the name of a very familiar product without us even knowing what is going on - "Peanut Butter 2.0" the only way to eat peant butter. As long as those peanuts don't start talking to you.

The essence of Web 2.0 is interactivity. It is what separates the static from the dynamic, the Ford from the Ferrrari, reality tv from, well everything really. Web 2.0 has made available tools which can be used to upload content quickly and easily to the whole world. Perhaps too quickly and easily. Many a sportsperson would like the chance to review the decision to upload a photo or video originally uploaded as a joke and now regretted at leisure. But this article is not about sporting personalities, or even those without personalities, it is about educators.

Limiting factors in computing speeds and interactivity are being overcome all the time. Removing the barriers only places more pressure on the remaining blockers: availability of technology and expertise of the educator. Our students have the capacity to use technology almost without thinking (often without thinking, some might add). This comfort level can be intimidating. What can a 40+ year old teacher teach a teenage about computers?

Well, quite a lot actually. Not posting compromising photos for one. Not sharing the contents of their breakfast, pre- or post-digestion with the entire world for another. Perhaps, more significantly, organisation, problem solving, decision making and value adding.

Teachers can play a significant role in modelling appropriate use of technology. Setting up blogs or wikis as class assignments can help students understand the versatility and value of such sites. Reviewing social pages can help them understand the potential for misleading and potentially damaging information as well as how to make good use of this mass media minefield. Teachers can also guide students in the approiate ways of acknowledging (and validating) intellectual property and presenting the results of research in interesting and new ways. Such are the benefits of Web 2.0 for Science Educators.

The main benefit of Web 2.0 has been in shifting the focus away from the owner of the knowledge to the user of the knowledge. This allows the user to interact, construct and add knowledge to what was originally presented. It is a way of shifting the focus away from the creator to the users. In teaching, we refer to this as a shift from teacher-centred to student-centred pedagogy. Technology that allows us to facilitate a more student centred approach to our lessons, with a dollop of engagement and motivation thrown in, is no bad thing.

Empowering your students to take more responsibility for their learning has significant benefits for them and for you. Make sure the Web 2.0 bus visits your classroom some time soon, because the Web 3.0 upgrade is just around the corner. It's the perfect time to start incorporating Web 2.0 into your Science lessons. Make this one conspiracy in which you can play a major role.


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