Summary of “Capitalizing on Web 2.0 in the Social Studies Context”

After being involved with BSU’s PEDL program for the past two semesters, I have come to deeply appreciate the importance  and effectiveness of integrating Web 2.0 technologies into my future classroom.  For more ideas about how to apply these resources specifically into the social studies setting, I found a wonderful research article devoted specifically to that topic, TechTrend’s “Capitalizing on Web 2.0 in the Social Studies Context.”

Holcomb and Beal provide an articulate set of reasons why Web 2.0 has become an important part of any social studies educator toolbox.  They contend that through Web 2.0 the classroom no longer needs to be a place where students simply show up to only consume information, but rather can be involved as creators and contributors in a collaborative setting much easier.  As a result, Web 2.0 involvement is wonderful news for anyone with constructivist and problem-based learning passions. They also mention that Web 2.0 technologies can be great democratizing forces, leveling many disadvantages that traditional barriers like race, culture and class can unfortunately carry for students.  As long as access to technology is available equally for all students, these technologies provide all students a chance to have a voice and be listened to regardless of their background. Lastly, they also emphasize how Web 2.0 technologies, with their collaborative environments help boost students abilities to encounter and process different perspectives.  The importance of perspective taking is one of the main learning priorities in social studies and Web 2.o technology’s frequent delivery of global voices on any particular issue or topic can catalyze this ability development for students.

This article also provided hands-on examples and rationale for using four main Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom: VoiceThread, Gliffy, CommunityWalk, and Footnote. I learned that VoiceThread has a specific component just for educators called VoiceThread Ed, that helps filter content specifically for the classroom. Having never hear of Gliffy, I was impressed with the resource’s ability to not only provide mind-mapping, but other tools like Venn Diagrams and Organizational Charts in very stream-lined and visually appealing designs.   CommunityWalk was also new to me as another Web 2.0 technology and I am impressed with the chance to not only integrate interactive maps–historical through the modern era–into lesson plans activities, but also the student’s ability to review, add and comment on each other’s projects.  Lastly, Footnote was also highlighted as not only a wonderful repository of a vast collection of primary source documents, but as a forum for annotating and bringing students into sharing their analysis and commentary on specific writings and photographs.

To conclude, I also appreciated the article’s discussion regarding  important limitations and considerations to keep in mind for teachers interested in Web 2.0. Holcomb and Beal’s concern of site reliability was new to me.  As technology continues to grow and expand, certain Web 2.0 tools have already become outdated or no longer are supported with technical assistance and upkeep. As an educator, it will be important for me to be aware of building my lessons around tools that I know I can count on and will remain relevant throughout my student’s use of them. I also appreciate the reminder that as teachers, we are responsible to provide safe learning atmospheres for students to learn within and controlling content can be a challenge with many of these tools.  While Web 2.0 is a wonderful gift in that it opens student work and projects much more broadly to the outside world, as educators we need to be mindful of how we can facilitate the outside world responding back in support of our students.


Holcomb, L.B. and Beal,C.M. (2010). Capitalizing on web 2.0 in the social studies context TechTrends, 54, 4. pp. 28-32.


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