Emerging Tools

  Edtech in a 2.0 World

Web 2.0 and Its Role in Education Defined

For the past 14 years, the Internet has evolved from a “read-only” world to a participatory one.  The term Web 2.0 was coined by Tim O’Reilly in 2005 in describing the Internet’s rapid evolution after what he describes as the bursting of the dot.com bubble in 2001 (O’Reilly, 2005). The race began with participants such as Google Adsense, Flickr, Napster, etc, and is today a field full of competitors.  For now, FaceBook is among them as it has outlasted MySpace and Google Plus, but the younger generation has moved on to different mediums.  According to O’Reilly (2010),  a key principle of Web 2.0 is that, “the service gets better the more people use it.”  Sadly, this interactive and participatory digital world has made a slow entrance into the field of education.

While it is true that educational Web 2.0 applications have been around for many years, getting the word out to and training thousands of teachers how to use these programs has been a slow process.  Fortunately, schools of education are sending young teachers who are much more prepared to face this challenge.  Teachers need to use technology in the classroom in such a way as to encourage collaboration and interactivity.  In their article for the MacArthur Foundation, authors describe this new participatory culture as having, “Low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations, and some types of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices” (Clinton et al., n.d.).

New language and new environments are finding their way into classrooms through databases of edtech that are being pulled together for teachers.  David Nagel, educational director for 1105 Media’s Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief for THE Journal and STEAM Universe, wrote about where educators turn for research into emerging technologies.  Nagel’s research group interviewed 1,100 educators from 50 states and found that,

  • 80% believe in the potential for edtech to positively impact teaching and learning
  • 69% keep up with edtech research consistently
  • 70% talk about edtech research with colleagues
  • 64% talk about edtech research in planning meetings (Nagel, 2018)

Research shows that many teachers turn to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Jefferson Education Exchange (JEX),  and/or Common Sense Education for databases of tools – most of which include context about how they are meant to be used (Nagel, 2018 & Pierce, 2018).  For example, the ISTE has more than 5,000 tools in their database.  Exciting things are happening in classrooms around the US as teachers use how to integrate technology into their lesson plans.  Dennis Pierce (2018) talks about a few innovative interactive apps that use augmented or virtual reality (AR and VR): Elements 4D, Ausrasma, 3D Printer, Expeditions AR, Ricoh Theta, and UNREAL ENGINE.  Shelly Jones from Little Rock Middle School says that, “Learning how to build virtual 3D environments ‘gives kids an advantage’ if they want to pursue a career in science or technology” (Pierce, 2018).

Here is a helpful evaluative tool that arrived in my mailbox TODAY  from www.LearnPlatform.com/educators

Emerging Edtech (that I currently use in my classroom)

Plickers – This is a quick and easy way to get a snapshot assessment in the classroom.  One needs to download the app to both a desktop and a mobile device and then enter a multiple choice quiz.  Students are given a card with a computer code on it that varies, depending on which direction the student holds it.  The teacher then scans the classroom with his/her mobile device and the app interprets the data.  It works very well and has few downsides.

Insert Learning – This program is brand new to me, but I am really enjoying it.  A teacher now has the ability to assign a website for reading that she/he has already prepped with questions, videos, and/or discussion.  Insert Learning puts a Chrome extension into one’s browser for easy access.

Grade Cam – Grade Cam takes scantron to new levels.  Teachers can easily enter a key for multiple choice tests and print off the forms for students to fill out.  Students then use a computer’s camera to scan their answer sheets and they can copy down the numbers of the problems they missed (to correct if allowed…).  I use this often!

Turnitin.com– I use turnitin.com for all my English essays.  I love how it speaks easily with Google Docs for my students to upload their essays from our Chromebooks.  My students quickly learn that the plagiarism checker is foolproof; the grammar checker also help cut down my grading time.

Newsela – Newsela is a neat way to do current events in the classroom. It gives teachers the option of choosing the difficulty level of the articles they assign to their students.

Popplet – I have only used Popplet once, but it was a fun way to do a thinking web.  I plan to use it in my classroom as well.

Finally, Jennifer Gonzalez, from the Cult of Pedagogy, publishes a list of her picks for the top edtech tools in each year.  This year’s list, “6 EdTech Tools to Try in 2018,” is where I found Insert Learning.

One Teacher’s Opinion About Technology in the Classroom

Mostly, I am overwhelmed; my career has been characterized by change.  In the past 18 years, I have raised 6 kids, moved countless times, and taught all of the following subjects in 9 different schools: journalism, theater, civics, current events, 7th grade math, Bible, US history, world history, art, Brit lit, Am. lit, college prep composition, German, English 9, English 10, English 7, and geography. I have had little time to grade or plan, let alone go back to school or learn new technology for classroom.  I didn’t even know what Web 2.0 was until a few days ago.  However, after only 2 semesters back to school,  I am so on board now!  I am really stunned at all the cool stuff out there and wish I had more time to start implementing it all!  One of my peers retweeted a post from @Larryferlazzo about his criteria in choosing Web 2.0 tools, “free, figure it out in < 1 min, teach kids in < 2 . mins, and added benefit over pen and paper.”  I really like that.

My position is this:  I believe that it is vitally important to the young people of this generation that they leave school with the ability to navigate safely and productively in a digital world.  We absolutely should be teaching them digital literacy and digital citizenship skills. Period.

Web 2.0 From the Beginning to Today (A Synopsis)

Like a phoenix, the open web emerged from the ashes after the dot.com bubble burst between 2000-2002.  According to O’Reilly (2005), “There’s an implicit architecture of participation, a built-in ethic of cooperation, in which the service acts primarily as an intelligent broker, connecting the edges to each other and harnessing the power of the users themselves.” This interesting comment about the spirit of cooperation sounds applicable to the Creative Commons today.  O’Reilly believed that a successful vendor could not lock down the platform, without weakening it (Madrigal, 2017).  Madrigal goes on to say that this proved untrue as the iPhone and Apple apps grew in popularity and the time people spent on the open web decreased.  However, I think that the current IP argument and “Share, Collaborate, Remix, and Reuse” sounds like the message that O’Reilly was preaching.  Surely, Web 3.0 is not far off.

As an aside, I was thinking about my own history with computers and the Web.  For several years, the only computers I owned were my dad’s rejects.  My first was his old desktop computer in 1997.  I got my first new one in 2005 and my first laptop in 2008 (a school district issued one).  In the classroom, from 2007 and earlier, do not remember using computers at all or having access to them ; 2008-2011 – it seems like I had access to a library or computer lab ; 2011-2018 – I had access to at least one rolling cart of computers, with increasing availability through the years ; 2018-19 – I got my first classroom set of computers/Chromebooks.  All English teachers in our building got Chromebooks, but the rest of our staff still has to check out carts from the library.


Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., & Weigel, M. (n.d.). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Building the Field of Digital Media and Learning. Retrieved October 11, 2018, from https://www.macfound.org/media/article_pdfs/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF.

Jacobsen, M. (2015). Teaching in a Participatory Digital World. Education Canada Magazine, 55(3), fall. Retrieved October 11, 2018, from http://galileo.org/teaching-in-a-participatory-digital-world/

Koba, M. (2015, April 28). Education tech funding soars — but is it working in the classroom? Retrieved October 11, 2018, from http://fortune.com/2015/04/28/education-tech-funding-soars-but-is-it-working-in-the-classroom/?scrlybrkr=9faec1c7

Madrigal, A. C. (2017, May 16). The Weird Thing About Today’s Internet. Retrieved October 11, 2018, from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/05/a-very-brief-history-of-the-last-10-years-in-technology/526767/

Nagel, D. (2018, July 26). Where Do Educators Turn for Research into the Effectiveness of Technology Tools? Retrieved October 11, 2018, from http://thejournal.com/articles/2018/07/26/where-do-educators-turn-for-research-into-the-effectiveness-of-technology-tools.aspx

O’Reilly, T. (2005, September 30). What Is Web 2.0. Retrieved October 15, 2018, from https://www.oreilly.com/pub/a/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html

Pierce, D. (2018, September 4). Virtual Reality Check. Retrieved October 11, 2018, from https://thejournal.com/articles/2018/09/04/virtual-reality-check.aspx

Pierce, D. (2018, June 26). ISTE Reveals New Resources and Events for Ed Tech Leaders. Retrieved October 11, 2018, from https://thejournal.com/articles/2018/06/26/iste-reveals-new-resources-and-events-for-ed-tech-leaders.aspx