Sunday, November 4, 2007

Standards: Taking the Messiness Out of Web 2.0

I like state academic standards. Why do they have such a bad reputation? I think it’s because too often they are lumped together with assessments. As a result, many educators feel that standards are the reason “we teach to the test” and we don’t have much room for creativity in our classrooms. When it comes to creativity in the classroom, I actually think the opposite is true. Standards provide a great deal of room for creativity. It seems like our approach to the standards is the limiting factor, not the standards themselves.

In the world of teacher technology adoption and 21st century skills, I like standards even more. They can take the “messiness” of web 2.0 and 21st century learning providing it with structure and a starting point for teachers. This structure can enhance overall technology adoption and ultimately 21st century learning.

I call web 2.0 tools “messy” since they really don’t have a defined, scripted beginning and end. They also lack structure. The structure is up to the teacher to develop. In terms of adoption, I think this structure becomes a large roadblock especially if the tool is different from the teacher’s beliefs in teaching and learning. That is why tools such as Study Island and Criterion, I think, are so readily adopted. The tools themselves provide the structure and pedagogy (and yield good results), not the teacher.

Standards can help inject structure into the “messiness” of web 2.0 tools. That is, linking standards to web 2.0 tools can build structure into web 2.0 tools making them very task focused. They usually provide a goal of knowledge or skill that the student should achieve. How students get there is usually up to the teacher, curriculum, and district. This is where I think creativity can abound and a razor sharp focus can coexist while teachers adopt web 2.0 tools.

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