Learning whilst Immersed in Web 2.0 Part 1

When the dot-com bubble burst in 2001 many regarded the World Wide Web as defunked and on its way out. Others disagreed and saw changes of the Web as a significant turning-point . These individuals argued that there had been bubbles and consequent shakeouts in many other technological revolutions throughout history. Tim O’Reilley from O’Reilly Media, stated in his 2005 article ‘What is WEB 2.0?‘ that these “shakeouts typically mark the point at which an ascendant technology is ready to take its place at center stage”. Cue WEB 2.0.

The definition of WEB 2.0 has been fiercely debated since 2004 although it was at a brainstorming session with O’Reilly and MediaLive International of that year that marked the birth of the concept. They discovered that many of the surviving companies and Web developers of the dot-com crash had many key features in common. Whereas WEB 1.0 allowed users to passively view information available to them, WEB 2.0 enables users to interact with both content, other users as well as help in generating content in the form of ideas, text, videos, or pictures. For a quick overview of key characteristics of WEB 2.0 please see this article.

Watch this brilliant video about the development of the World Wide Web by Michael Wesh, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology Kansas State University:

A more advanced feature of many WEB 2.0 tools is the ability to synthesize different services using the Application Programming Interface (API) to create a new application also known as a mashups. This means you can blend social media tools such as Twitter with your own application to create a new, or at least a heavily modified, tool. Some commentators are now talking about yet another transformation namely from WEB 2.0 to 3.0. This presentation explains the evolution from WEB 1.0 to WEB 3.0 very well.

20 WEB 2.0 Tools

In March 2010 Google listed more than 8.5 million citations of WEB 2.0 and thousands referred to WEB 2.0 tools. This list will attempt to narrow that down significantly (!) and hopefully provide you with a few interesting reources that can be used to aid the delivery of lessons, content creation as well as be used with your pupils in the classroom. The following tools are in no particular order:

1. VoiceThread.com:

Enables you to collaborate on images and videos by adding text, doodles, voice or video comments. One clever feature is that you can record from your webcam and add it to the image. Other users can also add their comments which makes this tool stand out from similar ones out there. Therefore a superb opportunity to spice up Peer-Assessment! If you purchase a Pro Educator account then you only pay $10 – once. Check out this 60 second guide about using VoiceThread.

Here’s an example of a group of Primary pupils using VoiceThread.com:

2. PictureTeller:

Created by E2BN and is hidden deep in the jungle of their amazing resources and eventually appears in the Cook IT section. E2BN has said that they are about to launch an Activity Generator section to make it easier to find tools such as PictureTeller. PictureTeller allows you to upload an image, add your own voice over, text bubbles (lots of different kinds to choose from) and then establish the direction of where you want the ‘camera’ to zoom. Essentially you create a movie which can be embedded (although this didn’t work as well as I’d liked) downloaded or simply copy the link and use your favourite social media tool to share the creation. See this example of a mini movie created using this tool.

3. Wallwisher:

Works as a wall of interactive ‘stickies’. Users start a new wall, enter a suitable title and description so others know what/how to use it and then they simply double-click the wall to add a sticky note. Each note has some customizable features like adding not only text but also an image, audio, or video link to each note. Wallwisher is a superb tool and very versatile:

  • Homework wall: get pupils to add their stickies prior to the lesson and then read out a few examples as a starter activity (also great ice breaker for older students who, lets face it, sometimes struggle to talk in big groups)
  • Interactive sorting task: quick activity where you create a series of stickies which pupils have to rank, sort, organise etc
  • Writing frame; where pupils drag the piece of writing into the correct order; or where pupils add content to ‘Intro’, ‘Main paragraph 1′, ‘Main paragraph 2′ and ‘Conclusion’ sticky.

Here are two examples of using Wallwisher both in the classroom as well as during INSET or Department meeting:

In the History classroom

Tips on becoming a creative teacher

Tips on becoming a creative teacher

4. Issuu:

Simple tool where you can create stunning digital editions of worksheets, articles, comics, drawings and so on, simply by uploading a document. Register, upload, embed – done.

5. Phrasr by PimPamPum

Phrasr uses the Flickr API by matching images to words you choose. It’s all very straight forward really, just type a few key words and select which images you want to match with each word. It can be quite a powerful tool in the classroom as it provides opportunity for students to really think about the meaning of words from complex underlying abstractions of key concepts to producing presentations about contrasts, differences and similarities.

Here are a few examples:

8 O’Clock

Future Technology

A Different World

6. Spezify

Spezify is a great way to get pupils digging deeper into research, source material and their own projects. Add a key word and watch the screen populate with search results from a range of different sources. What is particularly good about this way of searching is that you can filter out certain types of sources e.g. only show images or videos, comments, text or even audio like this video shows:


Create talking avatars that can be embeded on the Learning Platform or Department website. This clever tool can enhance the learning experience for pupils and can be used in a variety of ways:

  • Characters welcome visitors to an area on the Learning Platform
  • Avatars explain tasks to pupils who are working independently from home or in lessons
  • Great for creating Thinking Skills mysteries where Voki Avatars give pupils info bursts which together complete the mystery
  • Fantastic for improving listening skills – ask pupils to listen to the character and answer a series of tasks
  • Give pupils a range of images which they have to describe or explain using their own Voki avatars.
  • Pupils use their Voki to talk about a book they just read

8. StupeFlix.com

If you want pupils to create a quick presentation or video then this is a good tool to use. One great aspect of this tool, at least for techers, is the ability to upload to Youtube without leaving StupeFlix. Genius. Take a look at this example from of a StupeFlix video produced in less than 5 minutes.

There are other similar resources out there like for example Flixtime which is also easy to use.

9. StoryJumper

This is an online children’s book creator where you use a vast library of graphics like scenes and props to make your very own book. Pupils can also upload photographs as well as add text. The final product can be read online or bought in hardback format from the company (round $25 – approximately £15). A great tool for younger pupils in particular. For older students I would recommend for example ToonDoo and Pixton.

Here’s a Primary example of StoryJumper.

10. Creaza

If you are looking for a one-stop tool which combines comic strip creator, Video and Audio editor as well as a mind-mapping tool then Creaza might be of interest to you. Each tool has a suite of features that are pretty decent; you would have to spend a few quid to get something that works as well and in tandem with the other tools. After registering you are provided with a basic demo account (free), although some features are locked until you join and pay for a full account which costs . Another strength is that it can be fully integrated with the Learning Platform Fronter if you have bought into their extension.

Here’s an example that took 3 minutes to set up in the mind-mapping software Mindomo:

Mindmap from Creaza

Mindmap from Creaza

That was the first 10 WEB 2.0 tools to enhance Learning and Teaching. The next post will look at another 10 tools that have proved to be successful in the classroom.

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