Over the last eight months Pontydysgu (well mainly Jenny Hughes) has been working on editing a handbook for teachers on the use of social software and web 2.0 in the classroom. The handbook, produced by the European Commission Comenius programme funded Taccle project will be published in June in English, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch and, we hope, Greek.
It will be available free for download on the internet and as a 150 page printed handbook. If you would like to pre-order copies, please fill in the order form here, telling me the number of copies you would like and the language version. The following text, taken from the draft of the preface, tells more about the purpose and content of the handbook.
“Information and Communication Technologies are being increasingly used to create richer learning environments. In all sectors of education from primary schools to adult education, in schools for pupils with special education needs and in colleges and universities, technologies are being used across the curriculum to enhance students’ experiences.
However, technology is not enough. The creation of high quality content is essential if the potential of ‘e-learning’ is to be realised in a way that stimulates and fosters Life Long Learning. It is important to train teachers how to design and develop their own content and generate learning materials that can help their own students and
can also be freely exchanged with others.
The European Commission Comenius programme funded Taccle project aims through training teachers to create e-learning materials and raising their awareness of e-learning in general, to help establish a culture of innovation in the schools in which they work.
This handbook has been produced by the Taccle project partners in five different European countries. It has been written by teachers for teachers and caters for those with only basic computer skills and limited technical support.
The handbook is geared to the needs of the classroom teacher but teacher trainers, ICT support staff and resource centre staff may find it useful too! It provides both practical support for
teachers who want a ‘hands on experience and also help and information for teachers who just want to find out about e-learning.
The handbook is designed to provide practical support for teachers to:
- create content for electronic learning environments in the context of an e-learning course
- identify and decide which ICT tools and content are most useful for particular purposes.
- create learning objects taking into account information design, web standards, usability criteria and reusability (text, images, animations, audio, video) and which enable active, interactive and cooperative learning processes.
- use learning environments effectively in order enhance quality and create resources to help them do so.
- share the developed content with their peers using existing repositories.
If you do not understand some of these terms do not worry. The handbook provides friendly step by step guidance about how to do it and explains the different terms along the way.
Of course it might seem a little strange and old fashioned producing a printed handbook about the use of new technologies. But, as Jenny Hughes says in her introduction to the handbook, we felt that the very teachers for whom this book is written are probably the group least likely to use or feel confident about using web-based materials. A book is comfortable and familiar and that is exactly how we would like teachers to feel about e-learning.
Technologies are changing very fast. When we originally applied for a grant from the European Commission, we anticipated the main focus of the handbook would be the use of Learning Management Systems – systems that help to organize and administer learning programs for students and store and organize learning materials. At the time, this seemed to be the most important technology for creating and managing content. But since then , we have seen an explosion in the use of social networking applications like blogs and wikis, as part of what has been called Web 2.0. These are tools which make it very easy for people to create and publish their own content in different forms – text, pictures, audio and video.
These technologies make it easy not just for teachers, but for students to produce materials themselves and are increasingly being used in the classroom mixing traditional teaching methods with some e-learning methods in what is called Blended Learning.
Therefore, we have shifted the main focus of the handbook to provide a hands on guide to the use of such tools in the classroom.”