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If you are new to the Web

If you are not a very experienced Web user, you might like to start by looking at 'The Web in plain English' section of this site, which contains several short videos from CommonCraft, explaining in plain English how blogs, wikis, search engines and other web tools work.

Resources on the Web for educators

You will find useful links to  resources for educators at the end of the page on 'Empowering learners through open education' in Unit 2.

In addition, you may find the following resources useful and inspiring. These links represent just a few of the many thousands of online communities and organisations available to support educators.

If you don’t find anything helpful in this list, try searching the internet and talking to your colleagues – you may be surprised at the amount of support that is just a mouse-click away.

  • South African Institute for Distance Education’s website: This site contains many useful articles about distance education in Southern Africa, and also has a newsletter you can sign up for. 

  • The Commonwealth of Learning website contains a wealth of useful and interesting resources for educators in open learning.

  • SchoolNet SA is South Africa's leading innovator in professional development programmes in ICT integration and school ICT leadership.

  • The E-learning Guild is an American based organisation that provides support to professionals in e-learning. Associate membership is available for free, and once you have signed up you can access many reports and discussion forums on e-learning and related topics.

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

See the section in Unit 2, 'Empowering learners through open learning', for a list of Open Educational Resources that you might find useful in your teaching. (You need to scroll down to the bottom section of this page.)

Communicating online with other educators

Maggie's blog, 'School 2.0', is at http://maggiev.edublogs.org/ and contains loads of useful information and links.

Edublogs hosts hundreds of thousands of blogs for teachers, students, researchers, professors, librarians, administrators and anyone and everyone else involved in education. This is a free site where you can communicate with other educators around the world, share information about how you use the Web for teaching, and also set up blogs for your learners.

Facebook is a social networking site that has hundreds of groups for educators to join. You can also create your own group and invite educators with the same interests as you to join.

Ideas for a team

Here are some ideas for staff members to become acclimatised to using Web 2.0, engage intellectually with each other in different ways on matters of core professional interest, and use Web 2.0 critically in and for projects and other  work:

  1. Podcast staff meetings. Spend a little time editing the best ones to place on the organisation's website.

  2. Individuals subscribe to RSS feeds, and then save useful information through Furl, Delicious, Diigo (or any other social bookmarking site) for shared use. Remember to tag the resources when you bookmark them.

  3. Team members develop their CVs into e-portfolios. Good examples could then be presented/discussed in staff meetings.

  4. Integrate the use of the various tools into your daily work routine. For example, when developing a proposal for a pilot project, create an e-portfolio.

  5. Use Google Docs, PBWorks, WetPaint (or other wiki tools) to manage processes that need input from a variety of team members – such as the agenda for team meetings, or jointly prepared reports/ proposals.

  6. At the next conference/workshop you attend, capture panel sessions and audience discussion on video and post to You Tube. Make it possible for people who did not attend the conference to experience it digitally.

  7. Team members can take photos when out in the field, or at a workshop/conference, and store them on Flickr closed group for use in the organisation's newsletter or website.

  8. The person with the IT leadership role (or another staff member that is interested) starts a blog on the educational use of Web 2.0 in a developing context, and staff members have a period of time to read and react. Then, collecting up all the comments, the blog host chairs a meeting to discuss implications for organisational projects. The ideas from the discussion are summarised, and the blog continued from that summary. There are as many iterations of this as people have energy for.

  9. A particularly good/provocative article on emerging trends in education is identified and staff all read same article and discuss through a discussion  Forum (e.g. on Ning or Elgg). The discussion could be public or it could remain as an internal discussion but available to a broader audience. For example: comment on the following 10 big shifts that the Read/Write Web is creating in how best to teach (according to Will Richardson - see Additional Resources below)

* Open content
* Many, many teachers and 24/7 learning
* The social, collaborative construction of meaningful knowledge
* Teaching is conversation, not lecture
* Know ‘where’ learning
* Readers are no longer just readers
* The web as a notebook
* Writing no longer limited to text
* Mastery is the product, not the test
* Contribution, not completion, as the ultimate goal.

  1. For the purposes of identifying support needs for professional development purposes, design an evaluation process to look at barriers to/facilitators of use of Web 2.0 on a daily basis. Particularly important would be engaging with individual staff to track e-habits including blocks. Observation and interviewing as well as personal journaling and/or daily logs are methods that could be used.

Useful books and journal articles

The following resources are highly recommended if you would like to delve deeper into the principles of e-learning with a practical focus.

  1. The e-merge 2008 virtual conference was for practitioners in Africa 'to share good practice and knowledge about educational technology innovation within the further and higher education sectors in the region, as well as to strengthen communities of researchers and practitioners.' The proceedings are available at: http://emerge2008.net/programme.html

  2. Stride (Staff Training and Research Institute of Distance Education), an initiative of the Indira Gandhi National Open University in New Delhi, India, has produced several handbooks for distance educators which can be freely downloaded from their site at http://www.ignou.ac.in/institute/frame.html

  3. Anderson, T., 2008. The Theory and Practice of Online Learning. Athabasca: Athabasca University Press. Can be downloaded as a free e-book under a Creative Commons license at http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120146

  4. Commonwealth of Learning, 2008. Education for a Digital World: Advice, Guidelines and Effective Practice from Around the Globe. Vancouver: BCcampus and Commonwealth of Learning. Can be downloaded as an e-book under a Creative Commons license at http://www.col.org/resources/crsMaterials/Pages/edDigitalWorld.aspx

  5. Harasim, L., Hiltz, S., Teles, L. and Turoff, M., 1995.  Learning Networks: A Field Guide to Teaching and Learning Online. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. An excellent description of knowledge construction through online discussion.  

  6. Richardson, W., 2008. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms 2nd ed., Corwin Press. 

  7. Salmon, G. 2004. E-moderating: The Key to Teaching and Learning Online, Kogan Page, London. www.atimod.com

  8. Salmon, G. 2002. E-tivities: The Key to Active Online Learning 1st ed., Routledge.www.atimod.com.