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Web 2.0 Projects

My Web 2.0 experience started when I was trying to implement some of the more promising Web 2.0 applications, available for education. As an advocate of project-based learning, I was looking for web-based productivity tools that can help students create projects that reflect what they are learning in the classroom.  My search criteria included tools that can help students construct knowledge, develop innovative products, search, evaluate, and analyze information, develop their critical thinking skills, communicate and work collaboratively. A combination of web 2.0 applications, particularly Google applications, fit my goals best. I started using Google Docs, Sites, Maps, Earth, Notebook, Sketchup and other web-based applications, such as: Mindomo--a mind mapping tool, Scratch--an animation and simulation tool and DoInk--a drawing and animation tool. As I started experimenting with these tools, the possibilities surprised me and soon enough I created project prototypes using a combination of these tools.
Google's generous offer to allow educational institutions to use Google Apps for free could not have come in a better time for our school. I signed up for it and when approved, I immediately started by setting up 560 accounts for our 3rd to 5th graders, faculty, and staff.

As the school had no experience with project-based learning and web 2.0 applications, and in view of time limitations, it was necessary to set up templates, that can provide a framework for project creation and a guiding hand to ease handling of these new applications. Teams of students, collaborating on a project, could plan the task using a team task sheet, write notes and observations

Collaborative Projects With Google Sites Template

reflecting their research and pose questions to focus their investigation. Most applications were done with Google Apps and other existing Google applications such as: Maps and Earth. 
Students presented alternative views of their topic by incorporating Google Earth maps and DoInk animations into their projects. Project offerings were quite diverse and included the following topics: the colonies, states, Native Americans, the Gold Rush, famous person and several projects in science. A Project presentation is the culmination of student efforts, but the process of working on projects is as informative of student control of the tools as the outcome. Students as early as third grade learn to log into their Google accounts from a link in the school site and navigate through multiple applications as they work on accomplishing the task. They start by conducting research about their topic and use Zotero--a powerful research tool--to gather and organize their research results. Students work on these applications simultaneously shifting back and forth between them. They produce reading notes, which they later use to craft their project essays, as well as images and other supporting media for their presentations. In more sophisticated projects, students use other tools, such Google Earth and DoInk and embed those in their Google Sites. In many instances, projects are collaborative, in which case they learn to share all their documents, sites, maps, etc. and brainstorm with each other while working on their project.