Web 2.0 in the Classroom

A brief introduction to some potential modern educational tools

  • iMovie

  • Twitter

  • Google Docs


iMovie is an app that allows users to easily edit and even record video from their own Mac computer or any Apple device for that matter (unfortunately the app only works with Apple operating systems currently).  The app comes preloaded onto most Mac computers but can also be purchased for $ 14.99 on Apple's Mac App Store.  Video clips, or still pictures if desired, can be cropped, rearranged, have filters or effects applied, and otherwise altered in numerous ways.  iMovie also allows for the addition of text and sound clips to be placed over a clip.  The finished video can also be easily posted websites such as Facebook or YouTube, making sharing your work a breeze.

In the classroom, this app provides opportunities for both students and teachers.  iMovie could be used to create an interesting and easy-to-follow video meant as a supplement to lecture.  Its editing capabilities would be very helpful in this matter.  For example, voiceovers about a physics concept could be inserted over a clip of the concept being demonstrated experimentally to allow students to better visualize the core ideas.

iMovie can also be used by the students to create videos.  For example, a research project on a certain topic may traditionally be assigned as a written essay, but giving the alternative of an iMovie presentation is an easy way to mix things up and provide students with a visually engaging and fun way to demonstrate their knowledge.  

Visual learners or reading-challenged students could be greatly helped by iMovie as both a teaching method and as a tool on which to complete an assignment.  Even in the case of visually-impaired students, the easy to use audio features can cater to their needs as well.  

There is no age restriction mentioned in the Terms of Service.

Twitter is a simple and popular social network that is free to join and easy to learn.  140 character pieces of information called "tweets" are posted by Twitter users all over the world.  By "following" someone on Twitter you'll be kept up to date on all of their tweets, which can be anything from simply their thoughts to pictures to links to all kinds of articles, videos, and really anything on the internet.  

Twitter is already widely used by many teens.  In a highschool setting, Twitter can be used by teachers and students to streamline communication and make it possible for students to ask questions whenever they need to.  A biology 30 teacher could make a "Mr./Mrs. Smiths Bio 30" Twitter account and tell all of her students in class to follow the account.  The teacher could then tweet links to articles or YouTube videos relevant to that day's lecture material.  Updates on upcoming tests and assignments could be posted regularly to ensure students aren't showing up to class with incomplete work or without having done a minute of studying.  Furthermore, a student having problems with a question on the homework is one tweet away from their teacher's help at any given time. 

With Twitter being social in nature, the website could be very helpful for students who learn best in a group setting.  Discussions involving multiple students can easily be started, as a student may have something to add to another's question, and another student may join in with what they think is the answer.  Soon a group discussion is well underway and examples can be talked through and explained in several ways.  Twitter also allows for the use of various media, such as video and pictures, appealing to learners whose optimal situation is not sitting in class  hearing a lecture.  

There is no age limit to join Twitter.

Google Docs is an extremely useful free web-based app that allows users to work on various projects through the internet.  The thing that really makes Google Docs stand out from other office-type applications is the ease with which projects can be shared and collaborated on.  Multiple people can work on one project simulataneously, or they can leave comments for others to read later.  Sharing is as easy as a few clicks and requires no printing or emailing of the project. 

Google Docs is ideal for use in the classroom.  Teachers can share assignments or notes with students without ever having to print a single piece of paper.  Students can then complete the assignment and hand it back in to the teacher via sharing on Google Docs.  This streamlines the entire process of giving assignements and receiving them back for marking.  The possibilites are huge with Google Docs, ans this small example is merely one way in which it may improve upon traditional classroom methods.

Group work is another thing that Google Docs greatly enhances.  Students could all be at home on their computers but working on one project together through Google Docs.  Not only does it help overcome geographic difficulties, but even some of the physical challenges of group work in the classroom, such as the fact that only so many people can be writing at a time.  Google Docs in many ways improves upon the traditional group work experience while appealing to those who learn better in a group setting without forcing those more comfortable on their own into something that feels too different, as if they wanted they could simply collaborate to the group effort from home on their own personal computer.  

Google Docs requires students to have a Google account.  Google accounts require the user to be 13 years of age.