This paper investigates technologies afforded us in this Net-generation with a view to being able to select innovative tools and use them appropriately in creative educational environments. The applications of some of these tools in learning environments are discussed in reference to popular learning theories. The need to establish the credibility of various technologies is important for educators and their students who grow up in a digital age. Johnston and Cooley (2001) state ‘Technology is changing the educational environment regardless of whether educators are prepared for the shift to technology’s infused instruction’.
What are Web 2.0 technologies and How are They Being Used?
The term Web 2.0 is used in contemporary literature, however, the average educator, still caught in the turmoil of using entrance level technology, may be unaware of its’ meaning. Wikipedia.com defines Web 2.0 as ‘a second generation of services available on the World Wide Web that lets people collaborate and share information online’ or, it is ‘the next generation of web based services’ (McDonald & Owyang, 2006).
O’Reilly (2005) describes Web 2.0 as a platform that spans all connected devices as:
- a virtual environment where software and content are continually updated and get better with use;
- a network which delivers rich user experiences through participation.
The importance of Web 2.0 is explained by Saffo (n.d.)as the focus of an emerging personal broadcasting trend in the same way that television, forty years ago, was at the center of mass broadcasting. To further understand this concept, table (1) outlines some key differences.
Table (1) shows the concepts of Mass Media and Personal Media
Social software is seen as one of the major components of the whole Web 2.0 movement (O’Hear, 2005), and generates the need to personalize and customize interfaces and information. Mass Media sponsored reaction rather than the empowerment engendered by Personal Media.
To understand the diversity of Web 2.0 technologies it’s useful to look from a usage perspective. Some educators classify usage based on time and place believeing that increased collaboration and community involvement demands personal involvement in an anytime, anyplace learning context rather than fixed time fixed place location. Personal flexibility and mobility are afforded by the new technologies. Physical classroom walls give way to virtual spaces (Thompson, 2007).
As outlined in Table (2), The Horizon Report (2007) identifies and describes emerging technologies and ranks categories according to time-to adoption by higher education. They range, from the top of the table, within one year, to the bottom, within the next five years.
Table (2): Key Trends in Emerging Technologies in Higher Education
What do you think?
Is the Web 2.0 term new to you?
Have you used any tools that allow you reflect O'Reilly's descriptors of these tools - "flexibility, mobility, affordability, cost effective scalability, multiple usage and useability"?
Of the types of tools shown in Table 2, how many of these have you been exposed to or used?
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