An Introduction to New Internet Literacies for Educators: Blogs, Wikis, RSS, Online Bookmarking

A number of new Internet technologies are changing the way we find, manage and distribute information. From Weblogs to Wikis to RSS to online bookmarking services, the possibilities for collaboration and sharing are almost limitless, as are the ways students and teachers can benefit in the classroom. Get an overview of the tools being used to foster this new literacy and a framework for integrating them into teaching practices.

The current educational system creates and nurtures dependent learners. Our students depend on us to:
  • create the environment in which learning takes place
  • tell them what they should know, when and why
  • provide the context for knowing
  • provide appropriate materials for learning
  • assess what they know
  • select appropriate ways to share what they have learned with others

The new world of learning is requires us to teach students to be independent learners, ones that are not dependent on teachers but are:
  • Self-directing--we now have the ability to create our own, personal curriculum around the ideas or topics that we are most passionate about. We no longer require curriculum to be delivered to us. We need to help our students find their passions and pursue them in the context of online networks in ethical, effective, organized and safe ways. And finding a balance between the online and offline life is also a "literacy" in this age. There are so many ways to communicate these days (blogs, wikis, IM, text, etc.) that it's easy to get overwhelmed.
  • Self-selecting--in this world, learning spaces are created, not provided. And teachers are not assigned, they are selected. The creation and nurturing of these highly collaborative spaces and communities is a new "literacy" that we need to help our students develop. How do we find the best teachers? How do we connect to them? How to we build communities with others that are supportive and effective?
  • Self-editing--whereas most of us were educated in a world where the materials we worked with had been edited by someone else along the way, in today's world, less and less of what we read is now "edited" in the traditional sense. So, reading and writing is no longer enough; we need to develop people who are effective editors of information as well.
  • Self-organizing--the Dewey Decimal system doesn't serve the online world well, so we have to organize our own stuff. To do that, we use tags and social bookmarking systems, building folksonomies where we organize the Web together.
  • Self-reflecting--as we become more and more in charge of our own learning, we need to develop the ability to reflect upon and assess our own work. This "metacognitive" work can involve a number of different genres and tools.
  • Self-publishing--our students will need to be literate at sharing out the work they produce because that increases the connections and conversations that can lead to further learning. Blogs, wikis, podcasts and video are among the publishing skills they will need to have.
  • Self-connecting--in order to leverage the potentials of personal learning networks, our students must understand how to connect to others in safe, ethical, and effective ways.
  • Self-assessing--It's not enough to take the initiative to publish and connect. We must also be able to assess our own contributions and make adjustments to our practice based on what works and what doesn't.

Blog Links:
Classroom Weblogs
Google Blog Search
Technorati Blogosphere Update

Wiki Links:

RSS Links:
Google Reader

Social Bookmarking:

Podcast/Video Links:
Clip Bandits
Mabry Enhanced Podcasts

Other Tools:
Google Earth
Second Life
Google Docs