Interview with Beverley E. Crane, author of “Using Web 2.0 and Social Networking Tools in the K-12 Classroom” Friday, Aug 3 2012
Looking for sound new ways to use Web 2.0 tools in K-12 education and ready-to-teach units that support curricular standards? Your search is over with this comprehensive guide. In this interview with author Beverley E. Crane, we talk with about her writing methods and the ideas behind the book.
Where did the initial idea for the book come from?
My earlier book, Using Web 2.0 Tools in the K-12 Classroom, published in 2009, started the conversation about Web 2.0 and how these tools can enhance instruction, research, and learning for students in all disciplines and all grade levels. With the explosion of young people’s use of social media and the lessening of restrictions on collaborative technology use in K-12 schools, it seemed an ideal time to provide K-12 educators with creative ideas, examples, and models from teachers and librarians who have incorporated Web 2.0 tools and social media into their lessons. This book does just that.
What kinds of tools do you discuss and why did you choose to include them?
Deciding on the kinds of tools among the increasing number was a difficult task and required more research than I expected. Not only has the number of tools increased from 2009 when my earlier book was published, but the innovative ways educators are using the tools has more than doubled in a couple of years. I wanted this book to illustrate inquiry-based projects, critical thinking, collaborative learning, authentic communication, multi-disciplinary subjects, aligned with the core K-12 curriculum and technology standards. I also wanted sample unit and lesson plans to appeal to all grade levels in different subjects worldwide, and I wanted the best of the best models to illustrate these lessons.
I have chosen representative tools from different categories: tools for collaborating, networking; map tools; presentation tools; tools to aid learners whether they are auditory or visual learners; and tools for those whose first language is not English. Each chapter focuses on one type of tool; for example, Chapter 7 covers a wide range of Google tools, and Chapter 8 highlights video. Readers will discover what the technology is, benefits of using it with students, and examples to illustrate how the tool is being used in the classroom or library. A sample detailed unit plan in a specific subject area and grade level acts as a model so educators can create their own lessons with their own students using the technology.
Some of the tools covered are blogs, podcasts, wikis, video, VoiceThread and Skype. Google tools, social bookmarking and social networking also have their own chapters. One chapter highlights using Web 2.0 tools in elective courses, including the arts and health, and another with non-native English speakers. The final chapter focuses on Web 2.0 and social media to help educators collaborate, learn from one another, enhance professional development, and more.
I was also lucky to have generous teachers, librarians, and educational groups allow me to use screenshots of their websites and projects to illustrate their innovative ideas and activities using Web 2.0 tools and social networking. This book could not have been written without the support of these educators.
What changes have you made in this edition?
When Neal-Schuman asked me to write this edition, I planned to include a new chapter on social networking and one discussing Web 2.0 tools and social media to open classroom doors for educators. However, I was worried that I wouldn’t have much that was different to say from my 2009 version in chapters on tools like blogs, wikis and podcasts. Was I ever wrong! Collaborative and communication tools abound (e.g., blogs, wikis, podcasts, Skype, VoiceThread), and the number increases daily. More and more educators are creating lessons that integrate Web 2.0 and social networking. This made selecting from among these innovative models difficult.
This edition contains the following new material:
• Four totally new chapters: 1) Bringing the Social Networking Revolution to K-12 Classrooms; 2) Opening Your Classrooms to the World via Skype; 3) Bringing Web 2.0 and Social Networking into Elective Subjects; and 4) Creating Community with Web 2.0 Tools and Social Networking.
• Other chapters on blogs, wikis, Google tools, video, and podcasts focus on different aspects from the earlier edition–for instance, how to teach students to write informative blog posts and comments and using a wiki to discuss bullies today and in history.
• Examples of five tools, including Glogster and Photo Peach, illustrate how to use them to improve language learning with non-native speakers. VoiceThread is included again in this edition because it supports skills needed by language learners so well.
• In each chapter two sets of all-new teacher exercises reinforce the main concepts of the chapter; lists of links provide additional examples, activities and ideas; screenshots illustrate topics discussed; and charts, rubrics, and checklists offer models to use in the units.
• Lists of illustrations and tables, and a detailed index are all new too.
In fact, there’s not much that isn’t new! Once I got going I just had to include as much new material as I could. And, what I couldn’t fit into the book will appear on my website, along with the latest technology described by technology gurus in the schools.
What steps can be taken to protect student privacy when Web 2.0 tools are incorporated into classroom learning?
One area that has worried educators is how to protect student privacy and keep them safe from predators on the Internet. Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs) outlining rules for using the Internet, student-parent contracts, keeping parents and administrators informed via social networking are just some ways to protect students.
Many of the Web 2.0 tools and social networking sites provide their own barriers between students and outside influences. For example, Kidblog allows students to publish posts and participate in discussions with a secure classroom blogging community. Wikispaces has given away more than 400,000 free, secure, advertising-free wiki spaces for K-12 education. Educators who do not have access to sites like Facebook or Twitter have created “fake” walls so students can experience social media as part of the curriculum. Many other examples are described throughout the book.
How can Web 2.0 tools enhance ESL instruction?
As an ESL teacher for many years, I personally emphasized the use of authentic language in the classroom. For most learners, acquisition of a second language will only take place as learners are exposed to and engaged in contextually rich, meaningful communication. Web 2.0 and social networking offer educators’ opportunities to enhance second language learners’ speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills.
Some examples illustrate how. Imagine students using their cell phones to record a message in the language they are learning that will be published on a blog or incorporated into a class podcast. Blogging isn’t about learning vocabulary but rather is a fun, meaningful activity where students are making new friends through language. Visualize a class of English-speaking students meeting virtually via Skype on a science project about whale migration with a Mexican class learning English. Not only are students learning science principles but also discovering new cultures through language. Picture a class using VoiceThread to create an online media album where they can make comments via voice, text, audio or video and share those comments with anyone they wish. With blogs, wikis, Skype, podcasts, educators now have easy-to-use tools to reinforce all four language skills.
What will readers find on your book’s companion Website?
Technology is constantly changing, and the Website is designed to help educators keep up with new innovative Web 2.0 and social media tools that will motivate students and enhance learning. New tools educators are using with K-12 students, collaborative projects teachers and librarians can participate in and model lessons to spark educators’ creativity are all part of the Website’s content. The Website has pages for many different subject areas—English/language arts, social studies and science. Exercises teachers can try to spark their interest in technology are also included, as well as new links to explore. In addition, a blog offers weekly updates on new opportunities in which educators can participate such as online free conferences, suggestions for teaching with Web 2.0 and ways teachers can enhance their own learning and networking with social media.
Who do you think this book is for?
Using Web 2.0 and Social Networking Tools in the K-12 Classroom is designed for educators at all levels. Whether they are teachers or librarians at the elementary, middle, or high school level, this book offers valuable ideas, models, and resources to help them integrate this important technology into their curricula. Another group that can benefit from this book is the growing number of parents who home school their children. Parents of two of my elementary-age grandchildren who are home-schooled have used some of the exercises, checked the links for content for activities, and tried some of the unit plans. The children were interested in some of the pictures, especially in the unit on whale migration. Having worked with student teachers who were interested in and needed more training in how to use technology in the classroom, I believe this book would be a valuable resource and could even be used as a textbook in a methods or technology class for students working toward teaching credentials.