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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Join The Web Tools Collective

Eric Brunsell

Asst Professor of Science Education @ UW-Oshkosh

"Don't limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time."
-- Tagore, Bengali poet

About 20 years ago, I received my first email account. It was awesome -- not many college students had one. Of course, I quickly realized that I only knew five friends with email and I lived with four of them.

Today, almost every teenager in our schools has the opportunity to access email, but many choose not to. It is much easier to send a message via texting or through Facebook. In fact, a growing number of my college students only use email to correspond with "old people."

Over the past 20 years, advances in our technological landscape have fundamentally changed the way that we access and interact with information and with each other. YouTube just turned six in May. Today, 48 hours of video gets uploaded to YouTube every minute -- twice as much as was uploaded at this time last year. Every minute, nearly 35,000 videos are viewed. Facebook is seven years old and has twice as many active user accounts as the population of the United States.

The participatory nature of the web has made it possible to redefine the culture of learning for our students and for ourselves. And professionally, we can participate in collectives to actively engage in professional learning and we can create similar experiences for our students.

The Web Tools Collective

As part of Edutopia's summer professional development experiences, we are starting a Web Tools Collective to explore and learn with other teachers from around the world. We plan to "study" a variety of web tools and resources, and identify ways that they can be used in the classroom. The Web Tools Collective is a flexible, open-learning experience. We will provide a learning space (Edutopia blogs and groups) and a loose structure for exploration. You are welcome to jump in and out as your schedule and interest allows. You can post daily, weekly, just once or twice, or you can even just lurk.

In their book, A New Culture of Learning, Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown describe a collective as:

. . . a collection of people, skills, and talent that produces a result greater than the sum of its parts. For our purposes, collectives are not solely defined by shared intention, action, or purpose (though these elements may exist and often do). Rather, they are defined by an active engagement with the process of learning. . . . In the new culture of learning, collectives, as we define them, become the medium in which participation takes shape.

The Web Tools Collective Series Schedule

  • Getting Started
  • Collecting: Web tools and resources for collecting and assessing information.
  • Creating: Web tools for expressing, sharing, and celebrating ideas.
  • Connecting: Web tools for breaking down the classroom walls.
  • The Networked Student

    What does a "collective" look like in the classroom? Perhaps this. . .

    Get Started

    In the comments below, let me know what you think about The Networked Student.

    • What can we do to move in that direction?
    • What obstacles do we face? And, most importantly, what questions do you have?
    • What do YOU want to get out of the Web Tools Collective?

    Eric Brunsell will be teaching a course called, "Current Trends in Curriculum and Instruction: Learning in a Connected World" at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh this summer. The course will be taught entirely online and will feature Edutopia -- and our community -- as a resource.

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