Are You Ready for the Next Generation Technology?

By Anne Ward

When it comes to education technology, you and your district have it covered. Your teachers and administrators communicate through e-mail, many are PowerPoint wizards, and a few even post online content for students. Maybe you even have paperless board meetings. Life is good.

Except that those applications are so 20th century.

Funny thing about trends -- they just keep coming, and education technology is no exception. While we adults were struggling to set up our e-mail accounts and download MP3 files, our students were zipping ahead with blogs, chat rooms, wikis, forums, and other Web tools for social networking beyond anything that previously existed.

Welcome to Web 2.0 -- the term coined to define the trend of using the Internet for social networking, with more and more software tools available online, free and open source, where they can be modified, copied, and distributed free of charge.

What does Web 2.0 mean for schools? Ask your students and they’ll tell you the Internet and technology is all about connections. Many already are socializing extensively on websites like FaceBook and MySpace. They prefer text messages (sent via cellphones) to e-mail, and they turn to Google instead of the encyclopedia for information. At home, they play games with sophisticated graphics and video images. Most importantly, they prefer to create rather than passively view what has been created for them.

For the most part, school leaders only now are becoming aware of how these technologies can be used in schools. According to a 2007 study by the National School Boards Association and Grunwald Associates, 96 percent of American children ages 9 to17 who have Internet access have used social networking technologies, and more than half of them spent much of their social networking time communicating about education-related matters. Yet more than 80 percent of districts prohibit students from online chatting and instant messaging at school, and more than 60 percent prohibit blogging. 

Would you like to continue reading? 
Subscribers please click here to continue reading. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to purchase this article or to obtain a subscription to ASBJ.