Web 2.0 for Tele-Mentoring

Web 2.0 for Tele-Mentoring

Shari McCurdy Smith (University of Illinois at Springfield, USA), Najmuddin Shaik (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, USA) and Emily Welch Boles (University of Illinois at Springfield, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-861-6.ch013
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Web 2.0 technologies are designed to be open, flexible, and collaborative offering many tools to support traditional or non-traditional tele-mentoring activities. The benefit of effortless sharing and connectivity comes with challenges in how we view such things as ownership, privacy, and duplicity. The Web 2.0 toolkit includes applications for web-based note-taking, shared documents, feedback, reflection, informal discussion, and presentation. The collaborative opportunities provided by mashable, social networking platforms allow users to flex time, geography, and projects. Professional educators continue to inform their practice and explore new ways to meet the needs of students. Web 2.0 technologies can support educational professionals by opening doors and classrooms world-wide. The chapter makes a comparison between online and mentoring instructional practice and highlights models for educational use of and aids in identification of tools for mentors and mentees.
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It is our challenge as teachers to create meaningful engaged learning experiences for students. We look for better ways to build connections in disciplines, learning outcomes, and the real world. Often the search centers on technology. When incorporating technology into an engaged learning process, educators must be willing to adjust or experiment with various applications and technology tools to determine what will best work for a given curriculum objective. (Bowen, 2000) However, the task of locating, acquiring and using technology in the classroom has, traditionally, been both time consuming and complex. If a classroom teacher were to employ technology, the room, equipment, software, operating system, and/or license were all potential barriers to success and a prudent use of time. Barriers such as browser compatibility, platform dependence, lack of home or school computing resources, and time often waylaid; and, over time, taught that technology adaption, whatever it was, was not worth the risk.

Fortunately, the last fifteen years has brought rapid and lasting change. The Internet helped classroom teachers overcome many barriers by making the right software and equipment easier to find. As Internet access increased, schools implemented interdisciplinary curricula and themes around Internet-based technologies. A driving force of this change was the opportunity to use authentic tasks and collaborate in learning communities in a constructivist approach to learning. Project based learning became far easier for students to accomplish using the resources of the web. Such projects “ask students to perform challenging and authentic tasks, align curriculum, instruction, and assessment into one seamless experience” (Jones, Valdez, Nowakowski, & Rasmussen, 1995).

In January 2001, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia was developed by Ward Cunningham and Richard Stillman. The encyclopedia was successfully built due to its use of several very important features; open content including open editing, no cost, and the global reach of the web (Wikipedia, History of Wikipedia, 2009). Openness in cost, geography, and contribution allowed users to easily contribute to the site leading to its rapid growth. Additional websites developed around networks and communities of users. They included MySpace in 2003 and Flickr in 2004. This community model of web site development takes advantage of the “wisdom of the crowd” or the taking into account collective opinion rather than a single expert to answer a question (Wikipedia, Wisdom of the Crowd, 2009). These principles plus the technical ability to present formerly server related functions into the user's browser combined to create what many described as Web 2.0. The origin of the term Web 2.0 is credited to Tim O'Reilly but a proper definition of what this term really entails is frequently debated (O'Reilly, 2005). In a February 2007 JISC Tech Watch, Paul Anderson points out that Tim O'Reilly was really trying to describe a set of benchmarks to tell whether or not a company was Web 1.0 or Web 2.0 when the term became a buzzword for blogs, wikis, and social connects (Anderson, 2007). Whatever its definition, open development at no or low cost, and virtually connected social communities came to define a new model for the web. Web content was still a top-down distribution model until the appearance of Web 2.0 tools and technologies. With Web 2.0, barrier free applications and user-friend technology is possible as the Web rather than a server, is the stage for applications and interactions (Asmus, Bonner, Esterhay, Lechner, & Rentfrow, 2005). Capabilities of Web 2.0 as described by O’Reilly embrace the following:

  • user control of their own content

  • web-based applications are services to buy not own

  • applications are perfected and update, and continually changed

  • applications are built from and with the help of users

  • applications have classifications developed by users

  • applications and services can be distributed

  • access is open and uncontrolled

  • shaped and assembled to new purpose

  • innovation (Adobe, 2005)

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