How could the use of the tools be made more effective in combination with some other methods, strategies or contexts?An answer to this question occurred to me while learning from Nicola and minh in the extended series of comments on Same Old Class Discussions. My answer involves combining the use of tools with the expectations that learners are using amidst their experiences of new content, interactions and personal reflections. I'm considering the possibility that their expectations are highly influential in whether the tools increase or decrease their engagement.
Any tool is prescriptive by nature. It dictates how to use it, what to expect from its use, what it takes to avoid mishandling it, and what added payback to expect from getting practiced at using it. That set of prescriptions may encourage instructors to neglect orchestrating expectations beyond what the tools dictate. It may also put the expectations provided by the tools at odds with the instructor's "command & control" set of expectations. Both a laissez-faire and a no-win approach could undermine student engagement. This raises the possibility of some middle ground between those extremes.
What if the Web 2.0 tools are necessary, but not sufficient, to realize increased student engagement? What if the departure from controlled conformity, facilitated by the tools, is off to a great start? What if the tools need a toolbox that puts them in a larger context which then frames their effective use? What if the combination of tools and expectations realizes a "best-of-both" space for spontaneous and fulfilling engagement?
If those possibilities are right, then the students need to be given expectations about what can go wrong with the tools. The possibility of using the tools in ways that yield more disengagement -- needs to be explored as I've done in this series. The value of additional expectations ought to be considered. Expectations might also include how learning really happens, how it's possible to go through the motions and get no useful results and how to troubleshoot problems when learning is not happening. Then there will not be an over-reliance on the tools by instructors or students. There would be less defeat when the tools no longer offer the thrill of a new toy. There would be more responsibility taken for using the tools wisely in service of one's own learning journey.
Note: links have now been added to every answer I've explored to the ten questions on Inadvertently designed for disengagement?