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Current Trends - Web 2.0 Tools

Current Trends - Web 2.0 Tools

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Published by Dylan Dyer

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Published by: Dylan Dyer on Jun 13, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Sarah PatersonCollin SutherlandJohn Bunker Dylan Dyer 
Web 2.0 Technologies in Education
 The situation presented in the cartoon above is, unfortunately, not far from reality. Today, students areconstantly immersed with new technology that has the ability to “enthrall” them in experiences thatthey will never forget. Learners of all ages are using different forms of technology outside of theclassroom that has raised their expectations of how information is presented inside the classroom.However, thousands of teachers across the country are faced with the daunting challenge of effectivelyintegrating new and innovative technologies into the learning environment in order to engage their students.Throughout the last century, the question of whether or not innovative technology contributes positively to the educational experience has been at the center of the educational world. In1922, Thomas Edison declared that, "I believe the motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system and that in a few years it will supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of textbooks"(Monke, 2004). In the 21st century, this doesn't appear to be the case. However, what is certain is thatthe 21st century has provided a wide variety of different technologies that possess educational potentialwhich greatly surpasses the power of motion pictures and the television. Presently, one of the greatesttechnologies available for use in the classroom are course management systems (CMS) and Web 2.0tools.
History and Development
Prior to the 21st Century were a few notable successes in online learning. The rapid evolution of the
World Wide Web and the developments of online learning were to some degree hand in hand, thoughthe scope and sequence of online learning was far behind the curve of theWorld Wide Web (Sclater, 2008). Online learning found its roots in the concept of distance education(Morabito, 1999). Interestingly, the idea of online learning came about before even the most basic
conception of the World Wide Web. During the 1960's, one of the first notable learning systems, acomputer-based learning program called PLATO, was developed at the University of Illinois. Thoughinitially developed for single computer access, PLATO eventually allowed multiple user access and in
1976 provided one of the first online messaging communities (Wooley, 1994). From its conception in1960 to its shut down in 2006, PLATO established key online concepts such as forums, message boards, online testing, e-mail, chat rooms, picture languages, instant messaging, remote screen sharing,
and multi-player games (Culatta, 2009).A few other notables in the history of online learning environments and course managment systems areCALCampus.com, Blackboard, Moodle, and Sakai. Similar to PLATO, CALCampus.com originatedfrom an offline, computer-based program for individual learners. The computer-based program was further developed
from 1985-1995 for courses on private networks. Then, as the internet became more widely available toconsumers in 1995, CALCampus.com was created and classes were made available to the general public. What made CALCampus.com unique was its innovation in being the first to develop and
implement the concept of a totally online-based school which incorporated real-time classroominstruction, all materials, and administration (Morabito, 2009).While PLATO and CALCampus. com were created specifically for higher education and adult learners,Blackboard and Moodle stand out because each has heavily emphasized roles in K-12 education as wellas higher education (Blackboard, 2009) (Moodle, 2009).
Like CALCampus.com, both Moodle andBlackboard are course management systems that provides the infrastructure for a totally online-basedschool. However, Moodle, unlike Blackboard, is free of any licensing costs and schools have found it
to be significantly less to use than Blackboard even when including hosting fees and the costs of managing their Moodle sites.Both Blackboard and Moodle rode the Web 2.0 wave at the turn of the century and were among themost popular and most well-known course management systems. However, as the shift from Web 1.0
to Web 2.0 created fundamental differences in the way the internet was used (O'Reilly, 2005), coursemanagement systems were not quick to follow suit (Sclater, 2008). As a result, there has been a disconnect between the services provided bycourse management systems and the way the internet is used by students (Sclater, 2008).
"Like the web itself, the early promise of e-learning - that of empowerment - has not been fully
realized. The experience of e-learning for many has been no more than a hand-out publishedonline, coupled with a simple multiple-choice quiz. Hardly inspiring, let alone empowering. But by using these new web services, e-learning has the potential to become far more personal,
social and flexible" (O'Hear, 2006).Most course management systems have been used by teachers to simply provide a "digital facelift" for their classrooms (Campbell, 2009); being teacher-centered, providing limited student-led interactions,and suggesting the continued disempowerment of students in the learning (Sclater, 2008). Based upon what Web 2.0 tools have to offer to education, the lacking of most course
management systems has sparked many discussions of the future of course management systems.These conversations have centered around the concept of a "shared learning environment" or a personallearning environments (PLE) (Sclater, 2008). The three camps situated around the concept of the PLE
 promote client software that can mediate between the learner and the resources on the web, initiativessuch as Elgg that do not require client software but enable participation through a web browser, andlastly the initiative of learners to facilitate and customize personal use of a variety of online services
(Sclater, 2008). Though a conclusion has not been reached, the development of initiatives such as Elgg,Google Wave, Sakai, Dolphin and others show a trend towards the concept of shared learningenvironments that encourage and improve student interactions and making learning environments morestudent-centered.

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