UK Government Research: Web 2.0 does improve learning
Since the birth of most "web 2.0" technology in the past six years I've been there gathering and even doing some of the research into whether it offers up any improvements on pedagogy and/or student experience in the classroom. It's not stopped healthy questioning of the validity of data, normally in midflow during a keynote, but there has always been a layer of distrust in stats and research that has not been peer reviewed, to the extent that there has been a great excuse for the lack of change by haughty educators and States that don't want to make the effort.
So I'm delighted that colleague Derek Robertson and University of Dundee researcher David Miller have, through their large-scale study, found that playing 20 minutes of Dr Kawashima's Brain Training every day is much more likely to improve attainment and speed of calculation in mathematics (up to 50% faster than the control group). Their results are to be peer-reviewed, hence the frustrating but necessary wait for the graphs, stats and data.
- Web 2.0 helps to encourage student engagement and increase participation – particularly among quieter pupils, who can use it to work collaboratively online, without the anxiety of having to raise questions in front of peers in class – or by enabling expression through less traditional media such as video.
- Teachers have reported that the use of social networking technology can encourage online discussion amongst students outside school.
- Web 2.0 can be available anytime, anywhere, which encourages some individuals to extend their learning through further investigation into topics that interest them.
- Pupils feel a sense of ownership and engagement when they publish their work online and this can encourage attention to detail and an overall improved quality of work. Some teachers reported using publication of work to encourage peer assessment.
You can read the full research report online, which includes some input from myself and colleague Matt Locke at Channel 4. The recommendations state that all teachers need to be given more significant time to do more complex work with Web 2.0 in their classrooms, directing students learning in these tools. It also, thankfully, helps us see realistically what students do with technology.
Above all comes the caveat that we must not over romanticise what young people are capable of doing with technology without the structure of learning and teachers acting as guides on the side.
Fascinating stuff on which to start building more daring policies. Essential reading for all those who lament the lack of interest in new technologies from "those up top".
Pic from David Muir, his blog is here.