Web 2.0 and Seamus Heaney

This week, a good number of my students are discussing the issues surrounding the use of web 2.0 tools in schools and in particular, in school libraries. It’s clear that many web 2.0 tools are fairly cosmetic e.g. presentation tools, unless they are used with a clear learning purpose in mind. So, for example, if students produce poor content in a glossy package using Prezi then we have not moved on from the glossy PowerPoint with poor content. Where web 2.0 can be an excellent learning tool is where students are engaged in meaningful learning activities i.e. where the focus on what they are learning and not on the tools they are using. Student involvement e.g. in blogs or wikis, can stimulate students to be critical thinkers and commentators, and students can see the products of their hard work – something which is not common in many schools. So thoughtful use of web 2.0 is the key here. TLs can be guides in their schools, advising teachers how to use web 2.0 tools effectively and not just for show or to tick ICT use i nteh classroom boxes.

Seamus Heaney’s new collection Human Chain is the Poetry Book Society Choice for this Autumn. Any new Heaney collection is a major event and not just in the world of poetry as Heaney is a poet whose books sell to people who don’t normally read poetry. I had forgotten that Heaney was the Autumn Choice, so my delight at opening the package was even greater than normal. Heaney’s poems are often deceptively simple but are powerful often on a second reading. There are some arresting phrases “The lush/ sunset blush/ on a big ripe  /gooseberry” or “Whitewashed gables/like petals stripped from hawthorn..”. A must read.

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