According to the International Society for Technology in Education's National Education Standards for Students, there is an expectation that "students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. " Web 2.0, the vehicle that has empowered pur society to become contributors to the web and not just consumers, has given the educator the ability to use this ever evolving technological tool to shape and craft learning experiences in a new, unique and compelling matter.
In Newark, specifically, I can recall how one class and a school-based technology coordinator took an international penpal project and gave it a virtual upgrade. PenPals 2.0 started with using ePals, a safe email solution for students. Using the teacher forum, the technology coordinator reached out, searching to find a school that was willing to exchange cookie recipes in search of the best recipes. A school, located in France, made the connection. Students started out by exchanging cookie recipes, baking the cookies as prescribed and authoring written reviews about the cookies. This simple exchange, entitled "Thats the Way the Cookie Crumbles", evolved into extended experiences. These students and educators remained in constant communication with one another and participated in a plethora of collaborative projects and exchanges that truly fostered and encouraged communication and collaboration. Students worked together and surveyed each other (via Survey Monkey) on authentic topics like becoming green citizens, genetic traits, and understanding and celebrating cultural and gender differences. For four years these students shared poetry, podcasts, videos, art work, prose, cards, and other creative products through both electronic and snail mail exchanges. Prior to the technology coordinator's retirement, she developped a Ning, entittled, "What Genes are You Wearing?" centered around Genetics where the students participated in discussion threads about dominant and recessive traits, posted pictures of themselves displaying the traits discussed, shared student-created quizzes, took surveys and analyzed results, and posted messages and valuable feedback in a one-stop shop environment. These students and teachers continue to share a relationship that crossed the shores via the power of technology and Web 2.0. These experiences overall managed to breathe life and dimension into teaching and learning for all who were involved. Meeting the NETS-S was definitely achieved as students used "creativity and innovation", via "communication and collaboration", proving themselves as "critical thinkers and problem solvers" with their actions as "digital citizens" who managed to learn and incorporate "new technologies" to diversify and deepen their knowledge base about content knowledge through exchanges with another culture.
International Society for Technology in Education (2007) "NETS Student Standards 2007." ISTE NETS. Retrieved November 22, 2010, from: http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-students/nets-student-standards-2007.aspx