This chapter contends that both Web 2.0 and the Semantic Web (the SW) serve as critical enablers for e-learning 2.0. It also maintains that the SW has the potential to take e-learning 2.0 to new frontiers of advancement. Most significantly, the chapter argues that Web 2.0 and the SW provide an ideal platform for harnessing collective intelligence, collective knowledge, the power of the groundswell, the network effect, and the collective power of simulation for higher education institutions (HEIs) in the area of elearning 2.0. Against this backdrop, the chapter provides, first, a short overview of e-learning 2.0, Web 2.0 and the SW. Second, it characterises the way in which Web 2.0 social software technologies (e.g., blogs, wikis, social networks and virtual worlds) can be deployed in HEIs for delivering e-learning 2.0 for educational purposes. In addition, it outlines the manner in which the SW (in the form of semantic blogs, semantic wikis, semantic social networks and semantic virtual worlds) can enhance each of these Web 2.0 technologies for deploying e-learning 2.0 in HEIs.
E-Learning 2.0, Web 2.0 And The Sw: Overview
This section offers a brief overview and related multidimensional definitions of e-learning 2.0, Web 2.0 and the SW. It also establishes the nexus existing between the last two instances of hybrid technologies and e-learning 2.0.
E-learning 2.0 is perceived in three related perspectives here. First, it is an approach that involves virtual collaborative and distance learning leveraged through computer-mediated communication technologies. Accordingly, it enables learners to actively participate in the learning value chain as creators and co-creators of content, and as authors, co-authors and contributors of knowledge by harnessing each other's CI. In this sense, it entails an e-learning 2.0 ecosystem existing within a Web 2.0 universe (Ivanova, 2007) – such as reflected in Figure 1 - that views a learning space as a medium for personal activities and for communication and collaboration with members of learning communities. Second, it is about Web 2.0 social software technologies and services applied to e-learning (Calvani, Bonaiuti & Fini, 2008; Downes, 2004; Spadavecchia, 2008). In this instance, it is a loosely coordinated, components approach that harnesses the synergy of distinct but complementary applications and web services such as blogs, wikis, and other social software tools to support learning. As such, it is a bottom-up and learner-driven peer learning.
The sample e-learning 2.0 ecosystem made up of composite Web 2.0 applications (Source htpp://bp2.blogger.com/_OxsnUFtqD1o/R0bENKEeIwIAAAAAAAAAFo/Tgx--cYEQGE/s1600-h/el2.jpg)
Third, it refers to an architecture of learning networks. Such networks are decentralised, distributed, emergent and dynamic. Therefore, it encompasses networked learning. The latter is a learning in which information and communication technologies are employed to foster connections between learners, between learners and tutors, and between learning communities and learning resources.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Second Life (SL): SL is a synthetic 3D online world (simulation) where users or their avatars can virtually walk, fly, swim, teleport, etc.
BuRST (Bibliography Management using RSS Technology): This is a lightweight specification for publishing bibliographic information using RSS 1.0 and bibliography-related metadata standards.
Facebook: Interactive social networking site (started at Harvard University) allowing users to create networks of friends, personal profiles, blogs, music, photos and videos.
Paraverses: Also known as mirror worlds, paraverses are VWs such as Google Earth that operate beyond metaverses.
Intraverses: Intraverses are VWs operating within corporate firewalls.
Ontologies (Ontology): Ontologies consist of a set of knowledge terms, including the vocabulary, the semantic interconnections and some simple rules of inference and logic for a particular topic. Technically, an ontology is a text-based piece of reference-knowledge, stored somewhere on the Web (for agents to consult it when necessary) and is represented and accessed through the syntax of an ontology representation language.
Semantic Desktop: This is a SW based virtual desktop allowing users to file and store personal data like messages, documents, multimedia, etc. It is an instance of desktop and cloud computing.
Metaverses: These are VWs (such as SL) that are essentially socially inclined as opposed to being game oriented.
Networked Semantic Desktop: This is a global desktop network which can connect people and communities to directly collaborate with their peers while reducing the amount of time spent filing and filtering information.
MMORPGs (Massively multi-player online role-playing games): These are Web-based simulated computer games (such as World of Warcraft) involving multiple players simultaneously.