04 February, 2010

Web 2.0 in the primary classroom

One of the more enjoyable aspects of my role is helping design innovative approaches to teaching and learning.

A while ago Chris Russell (Education) had the idea of exploring the use of web 2.0 technologies in the classrooms of some of his trainee teachers. However, Chris fell foul of an age limit for the Ning and Facebook services, both requiring users to be 13 years or older.

So we looked at a different approach using Google Docs. This service, combined with notions of the Smart Mob (Wesch, 2009) was thought likely to engage the learners (school children) and offer a more “Social Constructive” approach. The idea is to split up a project into small tasks so that small groups of pupils could work on these and then add their work to a single document containing the work of all groups.

I think google docs is particularly suited to this application because several people can work on one document at the same time, editing the same space, akin to writing on a class whiteboard. I envisage the creation of the final class document will be a highly engaging event, perhaps having the document displayed on the data projector so that pupils will see their contributions appearing as google docs refreshes content from all the contributors.

Chris raised the issue of assessment – how do you assess each child’s contribution to a joint document? I suggest a “… reflective piece …”, possibly using a writing frame, where each child can describe what their contribution was, how they found the experience etc. Further, perhaps year 3 could use the lower stage of Moons stages of learning (ref), and later years use later stages?

By David Callaghan (and collaboration from Chris Russell)
Image by popofatticus


A word of caution: Google’s terms of service says “You may not use … Google’s products, software, services and web sites … and may not accept the Terms if … you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with Google.” More info on: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13739_3-9902548-46.html

However, a colleague (Peter Beaumont) pointed out that Google contradict themselves by “Selling” google services to primary schools:


It’s your call …

An alternative you might want to consider is WikiSpaces. This service provides free, advertisement free and password protected wiki’s for K-12 education. However, the downside is that using a Wiki, the last edit becomes the current version, possibly causing pupils to become disillusioned and disengaged in a synchronous classroom environment.


Moon, J. A. (1999) Reflection in learning & professional development: theory & practice. London: Routledge.

Wesch, M. (2009) ‘How to get students to find and read 94 articles before the next class’ Digital Ethnography. http://mediatedcultures.net/ksudigg/?p=202 [accessed 4th February 2010]

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

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