An Orientation to Web 2.0 Tools for Telementoring

An Orientation to Web 2.0 Tools for Telementoring

Robin Hastings (Missouri River Regional Library, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-861-6.ch012
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This chapter gives an overview of Web 2.0 technologies and how they can support telementoring partnerships. Web 2.0 tools offer opportunities for increased networking and social interactivity. Synchronous (chats) and asynchronous (email) communication are possible with these tools. Some of the Web 2.0 capabilities that are introduced in this chapter include cloud computing, Facebook, Ning, and Twitter. FriendFeed and Groupware are also discussed as methods to organize and track a number of Web 2.0 applications for ease of use. Stability, data portability, privacy, and security are issues that are indicated for future research.
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Introduction Web 2.0

Effective communication is at the heart of any mentoring process, more so with telementoring because the mentor and student are not physically close to one another and must communicate using electronic means. With the recent explosion of Web 2.0 tools, communication over distance and time has become more convenient. The concepts behind Web 2.0–communication, networking, social bonding and sharing–fit perfectly into a mentoring relationship. In this chapter, I will explain how communication using these tools can work for your mentoring relationship, what technologies and services are available in the Web 2.0 toolset for you to use and how mentors and students can use those tools today to improve communication during the mentoring process.

First, a definition of the term Web 2.0 may be in order. Darcy DiNucci first coined the phrase in 1999 (DiNucci, 1999), but it became part of the general lexicon with Tim O’Reilly’s began to use it in conjunction with the first Web 2.0 conference. In an article in which he explains just what he meant by the term “Web 2.0” (O'Reilly, 2005), he explains this term with phrases such as “The Web As Platform”, “Harnessing Collective Intelligence” and “Software Above the Level of a Single Device”. The term encompasses a philosophy more than any one tool. It refers to a multitude of services, applications and web sites that encourage user-created content, sharing between contacts or friends on a site as well as providing a communication channel between users of the site or service. The driving idea behind Web 2.0 is that of the web as a platform for two-way communication and sharing - much more so than the one-way communication of websites that give the reader information, but do not encourage the reader to become a content creator or give the reader a way to easily share information with other readers of the site. Because most Web 2.0 tools encourage users to become content creators and, as such, provide many different features and applications that are there for the single purpose of assisting users in creating content, they are ideally suited to educational and telementoring uses.

One of the benefits of using one–or more–of these Web 2.0 tools in your telementoring activities is the ability to conduct both real-time (synchronous) and time-shifted (asynchronous) communications via the tool itself. Synchronous communication occurs when both parties are present and “chatting” or communicating at the same time. Instant Messaging (IM), talking on the telephone (as long as an answering machine is not involved) and face-to-face meetings are examples of synchronous communication. Asynchronous communication happens between people who may not be at the same place at the same time. Examples of asynchronous communication include leaving a message on a telephone answering machine, email and writing a letter. All of these examples of asynchronous communication include an “inbox” that holds the message until the recipient is ready to read and respond. This kind of communication is almost required for international communication: when someone in one part of the world is asleep, someone in the other part of the world can be reading the message left in his or her inbox and responding to it when it is convenient. While synchronous communication is ideal for getting a quick answer to a question or for brainstorming, asynchronous communication is useful for far-flung teams whose members may be distant from one another–even in different time zones–yet communication can still happen at a time that is convenient for each of the participants. It has the added advantage of allowing everyone breathing space to consider questions or problems and answer or suggest solutions at their own pace.

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