Participatory Culture: Integrating Blogs, Wikis, and Social Networks into Instructional Practice

Coalition of Essential Schools Fall Forum 2009
Friday, November 6, 10:15-12:00
Teachers and students at the International School of the Americas are using blogs, wikis, and social networking sites to address this question. Join us for an examination of why and how we’re doing this, along with resources and support to help you address potential challenges as you plan and take your own next steps.

This session was facilitated by Honor Moorman (hmoorm[at]neisd[dot]net), Galen McQuillen (gmcqui[at]neisd[dot]net), and Pamela Valentine (pvalen[at]neisd[dot]net); please feel free to contact any of us for more information.
The short link for this page is

Essential Question

Given the increasing prevalence of Web 2.0 technologies, how can we best integrate these tools into our instructional practice in order to prepare students to meet the literacy demands of the 21st century and empower them to be successful members of a participatory culture?

Common Principle: Student-as-worker, teacher-as-coach

“to provoke students to learn how to learn and thus to teach themselves”
Web 2.0 tools are highly engaging and participatory. They provide students with opportunities to develop and apply the use of 21st century skills including critical thinking, problem solving, media literacy, effective communication, and collaboration. Integrating Web 2.0 tools puts students at the center—students are empowered to use these tools to make meaning and communicate ideas to authentic audiences in meaningful contexts, potentially extending beyond the classroom or school walls.


  • Participants will understand how the emergence of Web 2.0 technologies creates a participatory culture and how this impacts us as educators.
  • Participants will learn key concepts and terms related to Web 2.0 tools and their impact on literacy and learning.
  • Participants will see examples of how teachers and students are using blogs, wikis, and social networking sites to communicate, create, and collaborate—developing the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed for success in the participatory culture of the 21st century.
  • Participants will understand some of the potential challenges associated with the integration of Web 2.0 tools and will gain successful strategies and approaches for handling these challenges.
  • Participants will take away resources and references as well as their own personal plans for implementing Web 2.0 technology and 21st century skills instruction into their classroom and school contexts upon returning home.

Agenda for today's session

  • Framing our discussion around the need to enable participation
  • Overview of Web 2.0 and its implications for educators
  • Introduction/Review of Web 2.0 Concepts and Tools
  • Sharing Our Successes
  • Anticipating and Overcoming Challenges
  • Planning for Your Next Steps

Framing our discussion around the need to enable participation

Confronting the Challenge of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century
An occasional paper on digital media and learning by Henry Jenkins et al, MacArthur Foundation, 2006

Overview of Web 2.0 and its implications for educators

What do we mean by Web 2.0?
It's as easy to create, publish, and change web content as it is to consume it.

"The Machine Is Us/ing Us"

A video explanation of Web 2.0 by Prof. Michael Wesch, dubbed "the explainer" by Wired magazine in 2007, and named a 2009 "emerging explorer" by National Geographic

A poetic transcription of the video is available here
For more interesting videos by Michael Wesch, including "The Information R/evolution," visit his Mediated Cultures website

Jot down Key Terms, Questions, Connections, and New Ideas on the

Introduction/Review of Web 2.0 Concepts and Tools

Match the ten terms with their definitions.

Participatory Culture

a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices . . . one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least they care what other people think about what they have created)
(Henry Jenkins)

Attention Economy

If the Web and the Net can be viewed as spaces in which we will increasingly live our lives, the economic laws we will live under have to be natural to this new space. These laws turn out to be quite different from what the old economics teaches, or what rubrics such as “the information age” suggest. What counts most is what is most scarce now, namely attention.(Michael H. Goldhaber)In the information age, information must compete for attention in much the same way that products on a store shelf competed for information in the industrial age.
(David Warlick)

21st Century Literacies

Twenty-first century readers and writers need to:
Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts
Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments
(National Council of Teachers of English)

Web 2.0

an umbrella term that is used to refer to a new era of Web-enabled applications that are built around user-generated or user-manipulated content, such as wikis, blogs, podcasts, and social networking sites
(Pew Internet and American Life Project, Research on Web 2.0)
[This term is] commonly associated with web applications which facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web. Examples include web-based communities, hosted services, web applications, social-networking sites, video-sharing sites, wikis, blogs, mashups and folksonomies. This kind of site allows its users to interact with other users or to change website content, in contrast to non-interactive websites where users are limited to the passive viewing of information that is provided to them.


a Web log with dated entries that functions as an online journal that hosts opportunities for reader response interactions between the writer and audience(Mary L. McNabb)[Use of this tool] has evolved from its origins as a medium for the online publication of personal diaries to a respected vehicle for editorials on specific topics. In their latest incarnation, [they] represent an alternative to mainstream media publications.
(Educause Learning Initiative)


a collaborative Webspace where anyone can add content and anyone can edit content that has already been published
(Will Richardson)
[It] allows readers to collaborate with others in writing it adding, editing, and changing the Web page’s contents at any time. Its ease of use makes a wiki an effective tool for collaborative writing.
(Gwen Solomon and Lynne Schrum)


an audio or video file created and placed on the Web for individuals to download and listen to on their computers or digital media players(Timothy D. Green, Abbie Brown, and LeAnne Robinson)a way to distribute multimedia files such as music or speech over the Internet for playback on mobile devices and personal computers
(Gwen Solomon and Lynne Schrum)


a technology that allows educators to subscribe to “feeds” of the content that is created on the Internet, whether it’s written in a Weblog or in a more traditional space such as newspapers or magazines(Will Richardson)Yesterday, we used search engines to find information. Today, with [this], we are training the information to find us.
(David Warlick)

Social Networking

An astonishing 96 percent of students with online access report that they have ever used any [of these] technologies, such as chatting, text messaging, blogging and visiting online communities, such as Facebook, MySpace and services designed specifically for younger children, such as Webkins and the chat sections of
(National School Boards Association)

Social Bookmarking

allows users to . . . save and archive entire pages, thus producing a form of a searchable, “personal Internet”
(Will Richardson)
Instead of keeping long lists of “favorites” in their own browsers, people use these Web sites to organize, rank, and display their resources for others to see and use. They classify the content using tags based on folksonomies of community-acceptable keyword classifications.
(Gwen Solomon and Lynne Schrum)

Sharing Our Successes

Examples of how blogs, wikis, and social networking sites have been integrated into our curriculum and instruction at The International School of the Americas

Social Networking

ISA Internship Ning


ISA DC Education Group
21st Century Global Leadership Course
Mr. Panda's Math Wiki
ISA Daily Bulletin


ePortfolios using Edublogs Campus

Anticipating and Overcoming Challenges

Use a chalk talk and gallery walk structure to pose and discuss potential challenges and how they can be addressed

For a story about how we successfully overcame various challenges in implementing the ISA Internship Ning, please read "Adventures in Web 2.0: Introducing Social Networking into My Teaching" published in Horace, the quarterly journal of the Coalition of Essential Schools volume 25.1, "CES 2.0: Techonolgy and the Essential School"

Planning for Your Next Steps

Use the What? So What? Now What? Protocol to develop plans for your own next steps