Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What are web 2.0 Tools?

Introduction

The traditional classroom is constrained by physical boundaries while the explosion of Internet tools referred to as Web 2 tools, offers a virtual classroom with few limitations. By association with this idea one would expect that today’s education, too, has few limitations. De Bourgh (2003) moderates this assertion by stating ‘Technology used selectively and authentically can facilitate learning and scaffold development of higher order thinking by delivering content multiple options for expressing knowledge and creative options for engaging learners’

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.
Other characteristics of flexibility, mobility, affordability, cost effective scalability, multiple usage and usability further define it. Web 2.0 is maintained and updated by users who are also co-developers thereby harnessing collective intelligence (e.g. Wikipedia). O’ Reilly (2005) believes that Web 2.0’s power comes in the form of the collective power of small sites which reaches out to the edges of the net rather than from the central core.

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?

Post your comments - we'd love to hear from you.

48 comments:

Judy said...

The term is not new, but your definitions are very helpful.

Yes, I have/do use many, but not all of these tools. Podcasts, wikis (new this term), Google doc's email IM, but have not used games or Virtual worlds such as Second Life.

Cathy Graham said...

Cathy, Jenny and Trudi,

I'm having difficulty reading the Table 2 image. Could you please reproduce it.

Thanks, Cathy G.

Jenny said...

Thanks for your coments Judy.

I would really like to know how well the new technologies you used were recieved by your students. In my college faculty don't like waiting for podcasts to download. they want instant access.

Jenny said...

Cathy, Yes!...... I wondered if that image would be a problem. I will remedy it it asap.
Thanks for your suggestion.

Judy said...

Hi Jenny,
The students love the podcasts. They have it downloading as they check their messages. A small size file also helps in download time although you don't want to sacrifice a reasonable quality sound for size - kind of a balance here.
Faculty are impatient?? oh my!
J :)

The Theme 5 Team said...

I am so glad that you said your students love podcasts. It gives credence to what I want to do in our Learning Centre. I anticipate our centre having to provide 'iPods' so that the students can experience the wonder of portable learning. That way the technology will catch on.

joyce arnold said...

Web 2.0 is not a new concept or idea bu it was a mysterious one. Thanks for remedying that situration.I understood that it was the next generation Internet, based on broader and faster services, redesigning the Internet which has become chaotic over time.
Socially constructed meaning , based on the wiki desing, blogs, MySpace and podcasts, certainly focusses the Web data
Joyce

Jenny said...

I know what you mean Joyce! I had not heard the term web2.0 prior to this event so I journeyed into an understanding of it through some great articles. O'Rielly is a name that is closely associated to this topic and his blog is worth following. Siemens, the proponent of the Connectivism theory speaks about chaos having its own order in patterns and that to make sense of the internets web structure you have to look for the patterns and connections. This is a skill I am still trying to hone.

Sandra said...

Hi guys

This is a nice piece - comprehensive yet succinct - good blogging style for non-reflective stuff I suspect :-) ???

I've used a few of the technologies personally - blogs & listening to podcasts & playing with GoogleDocs & have just started using wikis in teaching. Ocassionally I check out something in MySpace but always because someone alerts me - never off my own bat.

UQ recently did a surveyed student awareness of Web 2.0 technologies. I haven't seen the detail but in the summary I heard, the proportion of students using them was surprisingly small. Many of the respondents hadn't heard of Second Life & wikis & although many knew of MySpace, a large proportion were not using it to create for themselves. I was surprised by the number of students who didn't know about wikis when we introduced one.

I wonder what sort of things affect uptake? Sandra

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