Supporting Web 2.0

by Jean Tower

Supporting Web 2.0 usage in your school district may seem like an insurmountable task – something Hercules would walk away from. After all, there are SO MANY Web 2.0 applications that schools could use! At, the web applications index, there are 69 pages of web applications like the one below.


With over 3000 apps listed, and apps coming and going on an almost daily basis, it makes sense for school districts to make a plan to support Web 2.0 usage.

Planning should start with reviewing needs and goals. If you have instructional technology specialists and technology committees in your schools, as we do, I suggest that starting with them makes sense. These are the teachers in your district who are embracing technology tools to the extent that they voluntarily serve on a committee.

Once needs are established, review Web 2.0 tools to meet those needs. A small working committee of technology specialists and classroom teachers can weed down the list of promising apps to a “District Web 2.0 Toolkit.”

Limiting the use of Web 2.0 applications to this list is not one of my goals. Teachers are welcome to investigate and use other tools. My goal in creating the Web 2.0 Toolkit is to expand our use of Web 2.0 apps to meet core curriculum and 21st-century skill goals. We want a variety of Web 2.0 tools to be used to address a range of issues. I think we can do this by:

  • developing communities of practice
  • focusing training and support efforts
  • creating “critical mass” groups

Certainly, we can’t offer training and support for the 3000+ Web 2.0 applications on the Internet. Concentrating on our select list means that not only can we better support the tools, but we can count on teachers becoming expert enough to support each other. Most teachers may use only a couple of the tools we choose, but no matter what tools interest someone, they will find collegial coaching and support.

The apps that make it into the Toolkit should enable the goals previously set. For example, there are likely going to be apps to facilitate and support collaboration, personal productivity, group authoring, podcasting, creating multimedia presentations, and blogging. In addition, you may include little apps like Wordle that are already used by educators and students in your district. The Web 2.0 Toolkit should not be considered static –  it isn’t “one and done.” It will evolve and perhaps grow as needs, educator expertise, and available apps change.

The next step is to create a centralized place on your district website to list and link to the apps in your Web 2.0 Toolkit. It makes sense to include a brief blurb about what each app does, and how to get started. If the application is available in only certain schools (for example Google Apps for Education might be set up for your high school but not for the pre-K – 1 school) then state that here as well. I suggest that the “how to get started” information include account setup and links to suggested projects or lessons, or exemplars in your own school district. If you have teachers who are “super users” of an app and are willing to serve as advisers, list their name and school. I find that a powerful way to spread the use of a new tool is teacher to teacher.

In my school district, we have been successfully using Wikispaces Private Label, Google Apps for Education, Doodle, Wordle, Glogster, and Animoto, so as we approach the task of developing our Web 2.0 Toolkit, we’ll start with this list.

How do you manage the glut of Web 2.0 apps in your district?

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