Like trying to knit with a knife and fork?

My action research project with the Knowledge Bank: New Generation Collaborative Learning and Research Project is about social networking and maths and science learning in the middle years. First, what is social networking? My own definition would include sites that allow participants to upload text, photos, videos, audio and other items they have created, to share with others and allow comments from other participants. From a student perspective, it gives them an authentic audience, apart from their teachers, parents or classmates. Due to this wider audience, I believe it also makes students more reflective about their work and more inclined to do their best. Some of the social networking tools useful in educational contexts include:

  • Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Nings, Elgg (like MySpace, Facebook and Bebo)
  • Scribd, skrbl (collaborative text)
  • Google docs (collaborative spreadsheets)
  • Flickr, Photobucket, Picassa (images)
  • Teachertube, You Tube, Mathtrain (videos)
  • Slideshare, Slide, Picturetrail, Animoto (moving images)
  • Podcasting, Voicethread (audio)

This page has a collection of various web 2.0 sites, many of which would be considered social networking tools. http://learningweb2.wikispaces.com/Step+Two (Thanks Marg for this link).

But, are all of these tools applicable to maths and science learning? Is trying to use these tools like trying to knit with a knife and fork – they are great tools but for a different purpose, and you end up with an inferior product that is more difficult and takes longer to produce?

Part of the appeal of web 2.0 is it’s new and different, but when it is used often, will it lose this appeal and become another ‘chore’ for students? Hopefully, my research will help me to answer some of these questions – stay tuned!

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