R2D2: A model for using technology in education

Medical animations in YouTube or Second Life can add to such visual richness. Using such online video content can anchor instruction in content that students can rewatch many times. The web also allows for knowledge mapping of key concepts using free tools like Gliffy, Bubbl.us, Mindomo, or MindMeister. Digital libraries and museums like the new United Nations World Digital Library and the Civil Rights Digital Library provide thousands of pictures, diagrams, and other visual images that students can explore. There is no shortage of visual content today, and it will only increase. Ten years from now, visual content may represent the bulk of course resources.

Phase Four: Do

The internet provides many paths to try out course content in a safe harbor. Your students can perform plays in Second Life. They can practice their language skills in Mixxer, Babbel, KanTalk, or Livemocha. They can collect survey or polling data with dozens of different tools and collaboratively analyze and share their results using Google Docs. Similarly, real-world data from corporations or nonprofit organizations might be analyzed and reports generated. Beyond simple reports or term papers, they might also compose their own books in Wikibooks or create class projects such as a glossary in a wiki (e.g., PBworks or Wikispaces). Students might also produce their own podcasts or podcast series or YouTube-like videos related to course content. They can also solve problems or simulations online.

“R2-D2, where are you?” –C3PO

The figure below depicts the R2D2 model. To use the model, you do not have to go in order of each phase or use them all. While the arrows indicate direction in the use of the model, online activities could actually cycle in the opposite direction.


“R2-D2, it is you, it is you!” –C3PO to R2-D2

Hopefully, you can use this model or something similar. You might even recognize it in your own teaching. Without models, frameworks, and guidelines, instructors utilizing the web for learning will continue to be overwhelmed, frustrated, and perhaps feel that they are doomed.

“Excuse me sir, but that R2-D2 is in prime condition, a real bargain.” –C3PO to Luke

R2D2 is one pedagogical approach for web tools and resources. One model. One idea. I have personally witnessed wonderful results from Singapore to Spain to Saudi Arabia. Perhaps you can, too.

Curtis J. Bonk is Professor of Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University. He has a popular blog called TravelinEdMan and is the author of The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education; Empowering Online Learning: 100+ Ideas, for Reading, Reflecting, Displaying, and Doing; and The Handbook of Blended Learning: Global Perspectives, Local Designs.

Bonk, C. J. (July 2009). The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint. (Book home page: http://worldisopen.com/)

Bonk, C. J., & Zhang, K. (2008). Empowering Online Learning: 100+ Activities for Reading, Reflecting, Displaying, and Doing. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.





The Carlyle Letters Online

Civil Rights Digital Library

CNN Video

Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore

Einstein Archives Online




Google Books

Google Docs

Google Videos

The Internet Archive

Jane Austen

The Jane Goodall Institute


Link TV










TV Lesson




United Nations World Digital Library


Laura Ascione

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