Web 2.0 and the school of the future,today
The future of schools and schooling constitutes one of the major areas of current educationdebate – especially in light of the increasing importance of digital technologies incontemporary society. Indeed, the focus of this conference on ‘
The School of the Future,Today
’ reflects the considerable enthusiasm that surrounds the use of new digitaltechnologies for learning and education. Whilst having undoubted educational potential, thesedigital technologies mark a significant area of uncertainty as schools progress into the seconddecade of the twenty-first century. These uncertainties are encapsulated in current debatesover the place of so-called ‘web 2.0’ technologies in education. This paper offers an overviewof the educational implications of web 2.0 technologies for schools – arguing that current portrayals of web 2.0 use replicate a long-standing tendency in education for exaggerated andideologically driven reactions to technology. The paper concludes by arguing for the need toretain a realistic, if not critical, perspective on schools and web 2.0 – seeking to find ways of using web 2.0 technologies to work
the schools of today, rather than
What is web 2.0 and why is it of educational importance?
Alongside other tags such as the ‘social web’, ‘modern web’ and ‘social software’, the notionof ‘web 2.0’ provides a convenient umbrella term for a host of recent internet tools and practices ranging from social networking and blogging to ‘folksonomies’ and ‘mash-ups’. Ina technical sense, web 2.0 can be argued to refer to an increased
of internettools, applications and services. As Matthew Allen (2008, n.p.) describes, the notion of web2.0 reflects “approaches to the design and functionality of Web sites and the services theyoffer, emerging in recent years, and essentially describing technological implementations that prioritise the manipulation and presentation of data through the interaction of both human andcomputer agents”. Of course, many computer scientists dispute the technical necessity of such rebranding of the internet. As Scholz (2008) argues, many claims for the technicalnovelty of web 2.0 applications are misleading, with much use of the term driven by acommercial and political ‘branding mania and obsession with newness’. Yet issues of originality notwithstanding, the notion of web 2.0 is an important framing device for understanding contemporary internet use - defining ‘what enters the public discourse aboutthe impact of the Internet on society’ (Scholz 2008, n.p.)In particular the ‘web 2.0’ label reflects the changing nature of contemporary online activity – not least what is described as a ‘mass’ internet connectivity based around the collectiveactions of online user communities rather than individual users (see O’Reilly 2005, Shirky2008, Brusilovsky 2008). Thus in contrast to the ‘broadcast’ mode of information exchangethat characterized internet use in the 1990s, the web applications of the 2000s are seen to relyon openly shared digital content that is authored, critiqued and re-configured by a mass of users - what has been described as ‘many-to-many’ connectivity as opposed to ‘one-to-many’