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Reader Response – "Web 2.0 & You"

July 13, 2009

In her article “Web 2.0 & You”, Donna J. Baumbach discusses the use of Web 2.0 applications within school media centers. Baumbach comments on the current state of Web 2.0 usage among school library professionals and their students, and then advocates for its increased usage.

Baumbach opens her article with data from an online survey she conducted of school media specialists. Although a majority of the respondents are frequent internet users, most of their Web 2.0 usage is of a personal nature. Less than one-third actively use these tools in their school media centers (p. 14). This contrasts to recent statistics of student usage of those same tools, which report that almost two-thirds of K-12 students have created their own Web 2.0 content (p. 15).

Ms. Baumbach identifies four major obstacles school media specialists face when trying to implement Web 2.0 into media centers. They are: 1) many Web 2.0 tools are blocked or filtered by school districts; 2) school media specialists are experiencing “an erosion of informal professional development time”; 3) a lack of formal training opportunities; and 4) a general lack of knowledge (p. 15). Not having access to these tools is a major barrier, and in part contributes to the other three barriers. One-third of Baumbach’s survey respondents reported restrictions on at least one Web 2.0 in their school, and another third did not know (p. 15). The lack of informal professional development means that media specialists do not have sufficient time to practice and hone their Web 2.0 skills. Formal training is lacking, and the opportunities that do exist are often not relevant for school library professionals. The general lack of knowledge of Web 2.0 tools among school librarians is the culmination of all the barriers presented. Additional training opportunities and schedule management can somewhat eliminate some of these barriers, but are rendered moot if the tools are not accessible.

The remainder of the article discusses the benefits realized from integrating Web 2.0 components into a school media program. Many of these benefits can be related directly to student performance and learning. Web 2.0 can offer ease of use and versatility. Students can use these resources in all subject areas, and for a variety of projects. Web 2.0 also lends itself to creative endeavors, allowing users to continually edit their projects as their learning increases. The interactive nature of many social networking resources allows the user to gain additional learning through feedback from their audience. Web 2.0 also “supports goals in national and state standards” (p. 17). Implementing Web 2.0 in school media centers will provide a formal arena in which students can increase their information literacy skills, versus the informal experimentation students may already practice outside of school. This will help students engage in best practices on the web, become more discerning searchers, and prepare them for the future. Web 2.0 in school media centers also ensures that all students will have access to these tools, even if they do not have personal access to them at home.

School library specialists can use these same technologies for professional advantage. Web 2.0 can allow library teachers to remain pertinent as educational leaders. In addition to teaching students about these resources, many will also train teachers to use them in a classroom setting. Web 2.0 also allows library teachers to maximize school media budgets. Many free and low-cost Web 2.0 offerings exist that can help keep costs down. Using Web 2.0 applications also helps schools to realize more results from technology investments they have already made. Social networking and Web 2.0 also fosters a collaborative environment where library professionals can interact with fellow teachers and network with library colleagues.

Baumbach concludes her article by comparing Web 2.0 tools to other common classroom tools such as “pencils, paper, crayons, and glue” (p. 19). They can be used in all subject areas and for many types of learning. They can help the media center become a relative and interactive part of the school that prepares students to be learners in the 21st Century.

Baumbach, Donna J. (2009). Web 2.0 & You. Knowledge Quest 37(4), 12-19.

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