Saturday, February 23, 2013

NETS-S and Web 2.0 Tools

Times have changed in education, and we are now teaching groups of digital natives. No longer are students and teachers solely responsible for paper and pencil assignments and tests, and no longer is the communication between students and their peers, and students and their teachers only done face to face. Today, technology is being integrated into the classroom more than ever through the use of various Web 2.0 tools and devices. For example, my district allows, and encourages, students to participate in a program called Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Within this program, students have to pass an online test provided by the district, and upon passing, they are able to bring in any device that they have. The use of that device can vary from classroom to classroom with the understanding that the device is to be used for educational purposes to enhance their learning.

The National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S) were developed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).  The purposes of the standards are to help students prepare to work, live, and contribute to the social and civic fabric of their communities. I have noticed that the NETS-S directly relate to the idea of teaching 21st century skills to our students to ensure that they will be contributing members of our society. The standards identify several higher-order thinking skills, and the meaning of digital citizenship, which are both critical components for creating lifelong learners. The standards are designed to show, and teach, students how to live productively in our emerging global society. If we are to prepare our students for the real world, then we must educate students in the way that they will live and work in their futures. 

The NETS-S cover the following areas:

1.    Creativity and Innovation
2.    Communication and Collaboration
3.    Research and Information Fluency
4.    Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
5.    Digital Citizenship
6.    Technology Operations and Concepts. 

On the NETS-S page itself, these areas are bulleted with more specific examples of these standards. What is even more beneficial to educators who intend to implement these standards, is the NETS-S student profiles page. They describe what technological learning activities students should be involved with when using technology at different grade levels.  These profiles were developed with the intention of bringing the standards to life and demonstrating the variety of activities that are possible.

From a teacher’s standpoint, the best thing about these standards is that they can be met through the use of Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. There are various Web 2.0 tools and resources available for teachers and students, and they all contribute to the advancement of our students in today’s classroom, and in tomorrow’s world. Web 2.0 tools can be divided into three domains that include communication, collaboration, and publishing. All of the domains help to meet the NETS-S standards, but are also easily adaptable to meet the needs of our students in our classrooms.

Any teacher can find ways to incorporate Web 2.0 tools into the classroom that will benefit the students and meet the NETS-S. For example, in my classroom I am currently teaching a unit on the Iditarod. Students are working with a partner to conduct online research to find information on the history of the race, a musher on the trail, the care of the dogs, and the rules of this event. Through this online research consisting of videos, online discussion boards, interviews, etc., students can formulate an idea of what life is like as a musher on the Iditarod Trail, and what one’s life is like when following their passion for dogs and mushing. Along with creating a research paper, the students will take the idea a step further, and use a Web 2.0 tool, such as Glogster, to digitally design an online poster representing an area of choice relating to the Iditarod. Students will also use a application like Garage Band or Voice Thread to record their voices, which will act as narration for their project. The student's entire process of researching, designing, and then displaying his or her product via a Web 2.0 application, will help bring the student's creativity and innovation full circle. This will not only provide them with choice and a sense of ownership for their learning, but it will also allow each of them to put their digital and 21st century skills to use.

Through the use of Web 2.0 tools, students collaborate and communicate globally, conduct research, use digital citizenship, and become more critical thinkers and problem solvers. In the end, it becomes a "win win" situation for everyone involved!

National Educational Technology Standards for Students. (n.d.). NETS For Students 2007. Retrieved February 21, 2013, from

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