1. Web 2.0 as a ‘community of practice’
A recurring challenge for technical communication educators is to produce real-life assignments, as thesituated learning theory stresses that the learning process will improve if the students are confronted withauthentic and/or realistic learning environments [1, p. 306]. Moreover, certain educational theorists, forinstance Tripp [2, p. 306], argue that this environment should also be interpreted as a social context. In these‘communities of practice’ (a term coined by Lave and Wenger ) it should be possible for students tocollaborate with experts, support each other and eventually develop their personal and professional identity.On his personal website, Etienne Wenger  describes these ‘communities of practice’ as “groups of peoplewho share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interactregularly”, and lists three crucial characteristics. First, these communities constitute an identity that is definedby a shared domain of interest. This shared competence separates the members of a community from otherpeople. Second, the notion of ‘community’ implies that people interact with each other, learn from each otherand eventually build relationships with each other. Finally, the second part of the term ‘community of practice’is also essential. The members of such a community are practitioners and develop a common framework thatevery member draws upon or refers to.If we define Web 2.0 as the “more open, personalized, participative and social version”  of the formerWeb, then it can be the virtual equivalent of these ‘communities of practice.’ For instance, the business-oriented website LinkedIn is aimed at building networks with contacts who have similar job positions, andencourages exchanging information among members of these professional groups, which can lead to a sharedknowledge of business practices. Of course, this view upon Web 2.0 as a ‘community of practice’ could also befruitful for education and could increase the efficiency of existing learning practices. Some educators areperhaps apprehensive of Web 2.0 because it is “simply too provisional, unpredictable and uncontrollable to bemarshaled for traditional learning” . This paper will try to counter these assumptions by providing extrainformation about the implementation of this social software.
2. Slidecasting as a ‘Web 2.0 community of practice’
A less-known example of such a Web 2.0 teaching tool is slidecasting, which could be described aspodcasting by synchronising PowerPoint and voice. Previously, this technology was mainly used by educatorsin e-lectures, but since mid 2007 websites like SlideShare (www.slideshare.net) have made the productionprocess much more user-friendly, which has broadened its use to professionals and students. The softwareneeded to create such a slidecast can be found on the average computer, and almost every type of file used asvisual aids for a presentation is supported by the website. The slidecast itself can also be forwarded, pausedand stopped at any time.Furthermore, these websites have become a real-life online community of practice. These ‘virtualpresentations’ can be freely accessed, and the user interface enables showing appreciation for a slidecast,commenting on it, befriending the producer of it, etc. By tagging your slidecast with several keywords andchoosing a category it belongs to, you deliberately place yourself in a community of practice where memberscall on similar knowledge, but of course, the final success of such a community depends on the quantity andquality of the contributions of its members.
3. Researching slidecasting
Although there is a treasury grove of information on presentations, the published research on slidecastingfocuses primarily on e-learning. Griffin, Mitchell & Thompson  give empirical evidence that “synchronizedaudio and video are more effective than the provision of separate media items containing the sameinformation”. However, they fail to mention more details about this new genre, nor do they refer to slidecastingby students. Moreover, the identity issue is not extensively covered by academic literature, although recentresearch (for example Casteleyn et al. ) has indicated that this aspect takes a central position in Web 2.0products and their interpretation. The performance and construction of identity online are ultimately a socialphenomenon, which shows the relationship between Web 2.0 and communities of practice.Furthermore, slidecasting might also provide pedagogical benefits. Research by Mottart and Casteleyn hintsat this , but there is little empirical evidence. Finally, perceptions of students about e-lectures are mostly