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0 IN HIGHER EDUCATION: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
Senior lecturer Ph.D. Gabriela GROSSECK University of the West Timisoara, Romania email@example.com
Abstract. Web 2.0 has been, during the last years, one of the most fashionable words for a whole range of evolutions regarding the Internet. Although it was identified by the current analysts as the key technology for the next decade, the actors from the educational field do not really know what Web 2.0 means. They have different descriptions/definitions for blog, wiki, podcast, RSS, etc. This paper explores some of the current uses of Web 2.0 tools in education and discusses some of their advantages and disadvantages. The paper concludes with an invitation addressed to the educational actors to use these tools in teaching and learning. Key words: Web 2.0, education, technologies, blog, wiki, podcast, RSS
WHAT IS WEB 2.0? MAIN FEATURES The new technologies and services offered by the Internet, generically called Web 2.0, refer to the social use of the Web, and allow people to collaborate, to get actively involved in creating content, to generate knowledge and to share (exchange) information online. Less than three years away from the moment in which Tim O’Reilly1 launched the concept, it is generally acknowledged that Web 2.0 is an umbrella term, which includes a very large range of applications and services which use the Web as a unitary platform, organized on communication. On this platform, the user controls/creates his/her personal data and information, usually by making them available to others by means of some collaborative tools. Specific technologies contributing to Web 2.0 include weblogs (blogs), wikis, syndication of content through RSS, podcasting and videocasting for audio and video content, screencasting, social bookmarking, the sharing of photos and videos, social software, Web APIs, Web standards, Ajax and others artifacts. Web 2.0 can be described by its main features, but it is not limited to these:
1 Tim O’Reilly’s article What Is Web 2.0 - Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation
of Software, published in September 2005, is one of the papers which lays the fundaments of the Web 2.0 concepts. O’Reilly explains the fact that the term Web 2.0 surfaced in 2004, during a brainstorming between O’Reilly Media and MediaLive International, while organizing a conference about the Web. Whilst trying to find a name, the organizers noticed that, despite the collapse of dotcom, a series of new and valuable Web applications appeared regularly, and they were characterized by users’ collaboration in generating content. On the Web2.0 Conference site, the main themes of the presentations can be found. This autumn is dedicated to the fourth edition: Web2.0 Summit.
2 A.D.Little, Web-Reloaded. Driving convergence in the real world, http://www.adlittle.com/, 2006, p.
independence from the platform (a computer, with browser and Internet connection is enough); compatibility with the elements of the educational field and the existing contextual dynamics; the low level of complexity needed for use (minimum skills in using the Internet); reliability in continuous usage, over an extended period of time; redistribution of effort, so that less and less time and energy are spent during search and information management (del.icio.us, RSS); the increase in number of modalities of use and the heterogeneity of didactic practices and of types of formation, due to the diversity of the new technologies; the possibility to test the existing didactic practices, without great changes in the current modus operandi; the major focus on didactic innovation, and not on the technology per se; creating digital content (especially media, podcasting, videocasting).
it leads to a low quality of the actual content, with sites which struggle in deep informational mediocrity; it promotes amateurishness by invaluable contents generated by users; it gives everyone the opportunity to complain, thus creating a community without rules; it has monetary quantification (the Internet as a business- Google); it is a kind of second-hand Web, a medium for persons with low digital abilities; it has limited security; the speed of programs is incomparably lower than the one of desktop programs; it doesn’t mean anything per se, it is just electronic junk; the extremely diversified offer of technologies which can be used and which exist on the market at the moment, make the actual selection process difficult; time and knowledge invested in the Web 2.0 technologies.
BUT HOW DOES WEB 2.0 APPLY TO EDUCATION? There are already a growing number of educators who are exploring the emerging role of Web 2.0 technologies to transform teaching and learning. It is important to realize that students are coming to University already owning significant digital competencies and technology, and we need to leverage these rather than constrain them. They often have their own email and instant messaging accounts, MP3 player, laptop, camera/phone, online identity and perhaps blog. Table 1 renders some of the Web 2.0 technologies which the author of this article often uses as a support tool for preparing and collecting didactic materials, evaluating and analyzing the progress made by students, putting together informative and formative presentations, time management, planning the timetable and the calendar of activities, developing projects in collaboration, etc.
Table 1 Educational applications of Web 2.0 tools USES IN 2005-2006 AND 2006-2007 use blogs for real-world writing experiences pull class blogs together into one area for easy tracking Blogger quickly give feedback to students, and students to each other mru-info.blogspot.com students use peer networks to develop their own knowledge and update new information such as homework and assignments ggrosseck.blogspot.com using comments in blogs can encourage students to help each other with their writing, and get responses to a (M.A. students) question without getting the same answer twenty times etc. Wikis use for student projects use for collaborating on ideas and organizing documents Wikispaces and resources from individuals and groups of students use as a presentation tool (as e-portfolios) OraDeInfo.wikispaces.com as a group research project for a specific idea manage school and classroom documents (B.A. students) use as a collaborative handout for students writing: student created books and journaling (i.e. Wikibooks http://en.wikibooks.org/) create and maintain a classroom FAQ as a classroom discussion and debate area a place to aggregate web resources supporting committees, working parties and university projects etc. Photo Sharing share, comment, and add notes to photos or images to be used in the classroom Flickr inspire writing and creativity create a presentation using the photos Slide use tools in Flickr Toys (http://bighugelabs.com/flickr/) use tags to find photos of areas and events around the world for use in the classroom. OnLine Presentations post student presentations to an authentic audience and get feedback from around the world SlideShare share professional development materials and have it available anywhere, anytime, to anyone Web 2.0 tools Blogs
Web 2.0 tools Video Sharing YouTube Google Video RSS Bloglines Google Reader
USES IN 2005-2006 AND 2006-2007 post presentations of special events video professional development on my own terms create my own subject specific videos with my students use video sharing sites to find videos on current issues professional development time saving updated information in my teaching area information coming from constraining sources sharing my work with other educators RSS feeds can potentially replace traditional email mailing lists, reducing email overload RSS feeds can be used to keep course specific webpages current and relevant – e.g. by providing the latest information from external sources. create a set of resources that can be accessed on any computer connected to the internet conduct research and share that research with my peers track author and book updates groups of students doing a classroom project sharing their bookmarks, I subscribed to their RSS feed to see the direction of their research rate and review bookmarks to help with students decide on usefulness of resources setup a group tag in order to share educational resources share one del.icio.us account between a number of different subject specific educators in order to share resources with each other etc. Instant Messaging (YM, Meebo, Gabbly) increase the sense of community and accessibility which is required for collaborative learning VoIP (Skype) can promote international collaborations and understanding Calendars (Google Calendar, Meet-o-Matic) make calendar events, homework, anything you want available on mobile devices connected to the Internet Survey and polls: Wufoo, PollCode Online diagrams and web-based word processor (writely, writeboard), on-line spreahsheet (Google
Social Bookmarking Del.icio.us Diigo
Web 2.0 tools
USES IN 2005-2006 AND 2006-2007 Spreadsheet), social search (Flock, Technorati) etc.
CONCLUSIONS The latest generation of Web 2.0 technologies (blogs, wikis, RSS etc.) are quickly becoming ubiquitous, offering many unique and powerful information sharing and collaboration features. In most cases, the innovations are led by enthusiasts – whether in administration, IT, e-learning or libraries, or in academic departments. So why should teachers look up from their textbooks and take note of Web 2.0 tools? The reason these social technologies work is because teachers can foster collaborative work not only among their own students, but with colleagues, students, and community members from around the world. It is quite clear that the Universities need to act to ensure that it makes best use of such tools. Still, careful thinking and research are needed in order to find the best way to leverage these emerging tools to boost our teaching and learning activity. The author of this article hopes, however, that all the actors from the educational field (teachers, tutors, trainers, administrators, or those responsible for policies) will find the Web 2.0 technologies efficient and promising both for the educational process and for self development. We are certain that, once engaged in using the Web 2.0 technologies they will discover it is worth the effort and they will enjoy its benefits. BIBLIOGRAPHY
Report of the Information Services Working Group on Collaborative Tools, Collaborative Software Tools and Web 2.0, v6, august 2006, http://www.is.ed.ac.uk/content/1/c4/10/46/CollaborativeToolsAndWeb2%200.pdf. Queint D’Souza, Web 2.0 Ideas for Educators, A Guide to RSS and More, v2.0, http://www.teachinghacks.com/, 27 oct. 2006. Terry Friedman (ed.), Coming of Age, An introduction to the new World Wide Web, 2006, http://fullmeasure.co.uk/Coming_of_age_v1-2.pdf Bryan Alexander, Web 2.0. A New Wave of Innovation for Teaching and learning, EDUCAUSE Review, March/April 2006, 33-44, http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0621.pdf.
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