Web 2.0 in Secondary Education

Back in February I attended a seminar that looked at some emerging research on Web 2.0 in Education. That research has now been published on the Becta website, with a range of final reports looking at Implementing Web 2.0 in Secondary Schools: Impacts, barriers and issues, E-safety and Web 2.0 and Web 2.0 technologies for learning at Key Stage 3 and 4: Summary report.

The researchers surveyed over 2,600 Year 8 and Year 10 pupils, surveyed over 200 teachers and  held 60 focus groups with 300 learners. The team also interviewed over 100 teachers, headteachers and ICT leaders in the schools, plus over 40 national Web 2.0 innovators and regional broadband consortium (RBC) managers.

So how much Web 2.0 activity is actually happening in classrooms, how does this compare with students real use of technology and what are the issues for schools when considering the use of Web 2.0 technologies.

Web 2.0 activity in schools

Teachers reported that the use of Web 2.0 resources in lesson time included:

  • 12% had used uploaded video
  • 9% reported writing to a discussion board
  • 6% reported editing a wiki
  • 4% reported creating or editing a social networking profile
  • 9% reported creating or adding to a blog

This level of use is characterised in the report as “limited, and where it is being used it is generally at an experimental and exploratory stage”.

Student use of Web 2.0 technologies

Students reported that their use of Web 2.0 technologies included:

  • 74% have social networking accounts
  • 78% have uploaded photos or videos to the internet
  • Older learners take part in more social networking
  • Younger learners take part in more interactive gaming using the internet
  • Boys do more internet-connected gaming than girls
  • Girls do more social networking than boys, and also use video more than boys

However, the key finding here was that “nearly all Web 2.0 use is currently outside school, and for social purposes”.

Issues for use of Web 2.0 technologies

Barriers to the more widespread use of Web 2.0 technologies cited by interviewees and survey respondents included:

  • Tension between the collaborative learning of Web 2.0 and the nature of the assessment system
  • Concerns about e-safety and strict filtering in schools
  • Lack of adequate bandwidth
  • Teachers need the support, time and space to develop skills and practices
  • Learning platforms and ‘walled garden’ approach of VLEs
  • Reluctance about Web 2.0 activities being visible on the open internet

However these issues are not confined to technology and teachers:

Many learners lack technical skills, and lack an awareness of the range of technologies and of when and how they could be used, as well as the digital literacy and critical skills to navigate this space. Teachers should be careful not to overestimate learners’ familiarity and skills in this area.

So it appears that there is a long way to go before Web 2.0 is fully welcomed into the classroom.

Intute: Social Sciences features more resources on the issues of Secondary Education, Educational Technology and Education.

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