October 04, 2008

UK Government Research: Web 2.0 does improve learning

New research from Scotland and the UK Government shows that Web 2.0 and gaming can and do make a difference to educational attainment and student experience.

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normally in midflow during a keynote, but there has always been a layer of distrust in stats and research that has not been peer reviewed, to the extent that there has been a great excuse for the lack of change by haughty educators and States that don't want to make the effort.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.

Furthermore, Becta's research into Web 2.0's impact in the classsroom, for which I presented the opening keynote at the expert seminar earlier this year, has just been completely published, and shows

  • 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.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

This is good news. Well done for your part in it and for encouraging so many others!

The presidential campaigns used new tools in their strategies to engage people. The financial manager and their staffs need to become familiar with these new tools and incorporate them into their strategies. The major change required for these new tools is that finance must be more proactive rather than reactive, with results examined in real time.

· Internet —We need to monitor the changes in the Internet (the enormous network of networks connecting disparate computers using languages called protocols). Internet Protocol Version 6 (aka IPV6) has now expanded the addresses and tags that can be used. Have our governments transitioned to IPV6?

· Web—We need to accommodate the different vehicles that customers use to travel on the “http” protocol to visit our sites. Can the different vehicles (MS Internet Explorer or Firefox or Safari or on a Web-enabled phone or PDA) that visitors use to access out sites allow them to seamlessly navigate through our Web pages?

· XML—Do our Web pages use of “eXtensible Markup Language” utilize well-formed and valid smart tags with corresponding end tags to get the user where she or he needs to go?

· XBRL—Are we presenting our financial documents—PAR, budget, CAFR or PAFR—into “eXtensible Business Reporting Language” to our customers so that they are not seeing a large financial document as a mere block of text but rather as a set of smart tags for the different parts (assets, liabilities, net assets, revenues, expenditures) that can be drilled down to the lowest level?

· Wikis—Are we using “What I Know Is” tools, internally and externally, to aggregate and share financial information on an ongoing basis in a collaborative manner?

· Blogs—Are we utilizing blogs to discuss financial topics and issues, internally and externally, to enhance and refine ideas, opinions and approaches in a collaborative manner?

· Social Bookmarking—Are we engaging the customers of our financial information by inquiring what they want to know (categorize whether it is a salary or revenue query) and where they go (assigning a tag—bookmark) to find it? Do we examine these social bookmarks to modify or adapt our financial information based on user trends?

· Social Media —Are we creating financial information forums utilizing blogs, Wikis, podcasts, MySpace, Facebook, Youmeo, Twitter or Plaxo to keep in touch with our users of financial information?

· Collaboration—If we do not manage collaboratively now, then what do we need to learn about it to enable us to take advantage of collaborative tools like Google Docs or MS SharePoint? Do our Intranet websites allow for collaboration? What is our government’s or agency’s strategy on collaboration?

If you expect that citizens and customers will wait for you to implement the above, or come to you asking you to implement the above, then nothing will change. I believe that we must engage our customers about government finance with these existing tools. I believe that the government budget, accounting and auditing professions must incorporate these tools into their existing strategies. The easiest way to implement them is to incorporate them, where appropriate, into your defined business processes. If presidential campaigns can use these tools with people all across the country, many of whom never met face-to-face, then why can’t government finance do the same?

The comments to this entry are closed.

About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

Recent Posts