Five Free Web 2.0 Tools to Support Innovative Education 1

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HiRes “Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought or an event.” — Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Educational Consultant, Curriculum Designers, Inc. Web 2.0 tools are online software programs that allow users to do a number of different things. They can be used to teach curriculum content, store data, create or edit video, edit photos, collaborate and so much more. These programs are often free and are used by teachers, students and sometimes parents, both in and out of the classroom, on a pretty regular basis. The question then becomes: are educators prepared to use these tools? Are educators, especially new ones, ready to incorporate Web 2.0 tools into their classroom? How can they be sure that the tool will remain a support piece rather than a replacement for their lesson planning and instructional practice? Embracing the use of Web 2.0 tools in lesson planning may still be new to many educators. However, it’s important to consider how these tools can serve as a powerful companion as we seek to improve and enhance our lessons with students. When we learn to harness their power to bring learning alive in the classroom, it’s a benefit to all! As we talk about Web 2.0 tools, here’s one point I want to stress. We need to remember that it’s not about the specific tools we use with our planning and our students, but why and when any given tool is needed. Ideally there also needs to be a culture within the school that values using technology to build lessons that ultimately will be used in the classroom. As a former school principal, I can guarantee that if the school leadership is modeling the use of technology by providing professional development in this area, it will support the school community to effectively integrate technology for teaching and learning. With so many free tools available on the web today, how do we decide which will be the best fit for our use? Let’s take a look at five free Web 2.0 educational tools. I encourage you to seek them out, practice with them and learn to incorporate them as you prepare your lesson plans. Will learning to use these tools take time? Yes. But I hope you’ll agree that the benefits are well worth your time!

1. Pinterest (3)


If you’ve not heard of Pinterest, what rock have you been hiding under? OK, kidding aside, Pinterest is a virtual pinboard filled with incredible resources for anyone, anytime! Most importantly, it’s become a huge support piece to educators worldwide. The Pinterest team describes it this way:

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes and organize their favorite recipes. Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

Pinterest has taken the educational community by storm, and here’s why: resources there are visual, clickable and shareable. Not only that, the virtual boards created can be shared by a group (4) or built by one person (5). Further, the lessons being curated in an “open source” manner are easy to access and integrate into your planning. Many thoughtful, experienced educators are sharing great lessons and resources that simply should not be missed. Here are a few “pinners” that I recommend you seek out as you consider this resource for lesson planning support:

Each of us has resources to share that you can easily access and begin to incorporate into your planning. If you have an account, you can choose to follow a bunch of cool pinners and take advantage of the resources they share, or just curate for yourself. And remember . . . you don’t need to have a Pinterest account to access these great, free resources.

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