Using Web 2.0: Just Like Show and Tell
Some of the best memories we have of childhood education must include three simple words: show and tell – a day when you could bring in anything you wanted to share with the class, whether it be a picture you took during an awesome summer vacation or a painting you did at church camp. What made show and tell so great? The answer is obvious. For a short part of the day your eyes were directed away from books and text and suddenly you were looking at fascinating pictures and images. Isn’t it sad to think that once you hit higher education the days of show and tell are over? Well don’t think that way, because the truth is, show and tell doesn’t disappear at the higher education level, it only gets more elaborate and limitless, and goes by the name of Web 2.0.
There has been a lot of talk as to what Web 2.0 really is, or if it is anything more than technical jargon used to make a sale. However, it is a concept that really isn’t too difficult to understand. Just like grade school show and tell, Web 2.0 is a way for everyday ordinary people to show a video, slideshow, or photo album and tell others what they think via comments, blog, or chat.
During show and tell, the teacher would stop talking, and you became in charge. Web 2.0 is no different. Dan Gillmor, author and journalist, calls the world of Web 2.0 “we the media” because the people decide what is important and where the story is almost as frequently as news organizations. The main stream media actually think of individual blogs as competitors, as well as the blogosphere as a whole. YouTube has also been a huge tool for empowering the people. Videos of literally anything can be posted by anyone at any time. A video of you excitedly opening a toy on Christmas day could generate 11 million views.
At recess you could have spent the full thirty minutes telling your friend about the Grand Canyon, but it wasn’t until show and tell when he saw the picture that you took while you were there that it really became impressive. This is a lesson that is still important today. The use of videos goes beyond making someone laugh or highlighting someone’s unfortunate blooper. Videos can be used to turn a simple bulletin into something exciting, and really make it sink in. For example, Nichols College in Dudley, Mass. used a video to illustrate to new students the proper way to check in on the first day of college. The use of the video will be much more effective than an ongoing list of ‘first day’ tasks.
Imagine if every first grade teacher made show and tell a part of their weekly agenda, except one. Odds are that not many students would want to be in that class. There are some trends that you just need to follow, and Web 2.0 is one of them. If every collegiate Web site has Web 2.0 functionality and yours is seriously lacking, it isn’t going to reflect well upon your college or university, which may lead to a lack of potential students. At the higher education level it is important to remember that students don’t want you to simple tell them how great your school is, they also want you to show them, and Web 2.0 functionality is the best way to make that happen.
Don’t be the teacher that doesn’t let show and tell happen. Make your school’s Web site all that it can be with Web 2.0, because investing in high tech functionality is investing in your students, your reputation, and the future of your school.