Thursday, 21 August 2008

Web 2.0 Tools for Schools

In a week now we have the schools back. Many children will be returning to start to take advantage of their new learning platform (LP) and all of our team’s time will be taken up with training. As we prepare fort he “big” role out, rather than the small number of schools already involved, I am struggling to reconcile the LP costing a vast fortune, with the free tools already available through web 2.0.

The LP will offer a storage area to all pupils, space in one place that is accessible by their teachers, so that is an advantage for educational work. Also it will offer parental access to the data kept by the institution on their offspring. It will give teachers the opportunity to develop on-line courses available to pupils anytime anywhere and interest spaces for whole groups of pupils or teachers interested in one particular event or subject where training resources, web links, wikis, blogs etc. can be created and made available to anyone in the whole wide community.

During the summer though I have spent a fair amount of time looking at, trying out, and using some of the web 2.0 tools available freely on-line. There is a very useful wiki that groups many of these free tools for educational use that I have been working through – and recommend! Groups these tools, many of which are free, under the following headings:
• Presentation Tools
• Collaborative Tools
• Research Tools
• Video Tools
• Slideshow Tools
• Audio Tools
• Image Tools
• Drawing Tools
• Writing Tools
• Music Tools
• Organising Tools
• Quiz and Poll Tools
• Creativity Tools
• File Storage

It is a superb collection, updated regularly, created and maintained by a teacher. Many of the types of tools outlined here are already available to schools through the Learning Platform, but some, for example the podcasting tools, it is easier to use the free ones. Others, such as the shared writing resources, completely functional web spaces and the audio tools are not already available to schools.

The biggest advantage by far is the fact that whatever is created using the free web 2.0 tools is shared by an audience well beyond Oxfordshire schools allowing for much wider collaboration.

Please note this is my view not that of Oxfordshire County Council for whom I work!

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