I recently read an article in Educational Researcher that analyzed the use of Wikis in schools. The findings were very interesting and they may serve as a catalyst for everyone to analyze their use of Web 2.0 tools. In their extensive analysis researchers in the study identified four types of ways that wikis were being used. Those reasons are listed below along with the percentage rate each are being used for.
- Trial wikis and teacher research-sharing sites (40%)
- Teacher content-delivery sites (34%)
- Individual student assignment and portfolios (25%)
- Collaborative student presentations and workspaces (1%)
These findings indicate that this Web 2.0 tool is often times not being used to its fullest potential. It is often simply being used as a place to store resources. This post isn’t intended as a criticism of those basic uses. In fact, that is how I often use wikis. Hopefully this article and post will push all of us to carefully consider how we are using technology. I REALLY like Bernajean Porter’s technology and learning spectrum. In that spectrum, she writes about the three ways most people use technology in their classrooms. She describes literacy uses as simply teaching about technology. Her next category is adapting uses such as educators using technology in their classes just to use it. The final category is the transforming uses and she describes that as using technology to meet learning content standards.
I think that it can be very easy to learn about a new technology tool and then be driven to use it simply to use it. I would challenge each of you to truly analyze how you are using the technologies that you are using. My goal wouldn’t be that all of the technology you use would fall into Porter’s transforming uses category. Much of my own use of technology is simply about efficiency. More importantly, I think we all need to become extremely cognizant of all of the things that we are doing in the classroom. I’d like to push you to clearly identify the reasons you are using technology X in your school or classroom.
- Why are you using X in your classroom?
- Does it improve student learning?
- Are students more engaged?
- Are students collaborating more frequently?
- Does it increase efficiency and allow you to spend more time on more important things?