Sunday, March 29, 2009

Social Studies Education in the World of Web 2.0

By George Sabato

The transformation of technology in our society is moving quickly into education in powerful ways. This is the age of Web 2.0. and this new age of technology will dramatically impact social studies education. For you to best understand this transformation I am going to ask you to read this article in a new fashion. As you read you will be asked to access the internet. I will direct you to links in order to bring you to an in-depth experience with the information I present. Following those links will surely give you an intimate understanding of the latest trends in education. ( I will post this article on my personal blog so that a reader may read it in a fully interactive manner. (Example the blog parallel will allow reader-author interaction.)

The key theme of the CLMS Technology Conference I attended this year was “Learning to Network—Networking to Learn”. It addressed the transition of society and education into the world of Web 2.0. This is the change from use of the internet for email and web pages to the more creative, socially dynamic and interactive world of blogs, wikis, and social networking sites. Some teachers at grade levels as low as fourth grade have already moved into creating blogs and wikis as projects and assessments. Often schools are requiring all students to have gmail accounts which allow access to the Google applications like Google docs and Google wiki, giving students access to their word processing, presentations, blogs and wikis at school and home. Several of my students created their election projects this year using web pages, blogs and wikis.

I would suggest you view Steve Hargadon’s Web 2.0 presentation . He explains with clarity why web 2.0 is the future of education.

The emerging theme and direction for education is that word “technology” will represent a support for innovation, creativity, collaboration, relevance, problem solving, communication, and critical thinking. This growing trend of thought is a recognition that how we use technology needs to be the clear focus of education. A real concern that must be faced is that large sums of money have been spent building technology systems in schools that support the old education paradigms. Schools will be challenged to adapt to technology in ways that build the skills needed for the 21st century.

Let me direct you to some YouTube videos that will help you understand some of the elements of Web 2.0 as blogs, wikis and social networking sites. Go to

for this short but enlightening video on blogs. Go to For a really clear and fascinating explanation on how wikis work watch this and you will see many applications for your own life. And take a look at how Google Docs could make collaboration easier. Here’s one on social networking.

Concerns about having students using “tools” out on the net that are open to undesirable influences must be met by “closing” the communities with the controls of the specific applications. For example, has no ads on sites used by educators, no email accounts are required and you can set up who can see the wikis created. Only those approved and invited can see the work. This wiki application is CTAP (California Technology Assistance Project) approved. Social networking can be set up to have communities closed. CTAP used the social networking system. Many parent clubs are using to create their networks. Examples:

Providing a safe cyber environment for our students is essential. CTAP4 has some great resources for administrators on Cybersafety including policies and procedures.

Students today are no longer limited by the walls of their classroom. Keynote speaker at the CLMS Technology Conference, David Jakes, put a slide of a one room schoolhouse in Alaska, once isolated in the wilderness--now wireless with its students globally connected. His key point was that education’s key role today is to have our students value collaborative and collective intelligence. He made the point that students need to be able to connect, collaborate, create and contribute.

Many projection systems are becoming more and more common in classrooms such as white boards, and document readers. These are certainly to be part of the future of education. While many whiteboards on show were thousands of dollars, at one workshop I learned you can make a whiteboard out of any surface using a Wii remote. The materials cost about $40.00 to make this happen. See how to make a Low-Cost Multi-touch Whiteboard using the Wiimote” at I also saw that you can create a sound system for the classroom by simply getting a garage sale stereo and add to them $19.95 wireless mikes that can be purchased at Target. I hope you can see this YouTube video. I learned that there are many videos valuable to teachers on YouTube. If YouYube is blocked, teachers can download the features at home and email them to their school computer for viewing in the classroom.

I found many new web sites which have great value to teachers and students. I will be adding many to my web site At

you can add voice to images.

allows you to prepare videos for uploading or downloading to YouTube.

has videos of children from all over the world sharing “their world” to the world by online video. gives you a directory of all the Web 2.0 sites. is a site that showcases students to colleges. Students are now more than test scores. With

in just minutes, you can broadcast and chat online with a global audience. lets you brainstorm collaboratively online creating colorful mind maps. Web 2.0 for the Classroom Teacher at is a great collection of Web 2.0 sites and applications.

It was an honor to present at the conference. You can see my presentation at

If you have read this article in the manner in which it was intended, I fully welcome you into the world of Web 2.0 and into the new world of social studies education.

George Sabato