Wired for Learning—Web 2.0 for Teaching and Learning: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities for Education

Wired for Learning—Web 2.0 for Teaching and Learning: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities for Education

Irene Chen (University of Houston-Downtown, USA) and Terry T. Kidd (Texas A&M University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-782-9.ch007
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Abstract

This is an introductory discussion into Web 2.0 technologies for teaching and learning. It is based on a review of the current literature and thinking around Web 2.0 and its potential in education. There has been a surge in internet services that attract the label “Web 2.0”. Wide acceptance of this term implies that together these services identify a change in the nature of the World Wide Web. This report seeks to define Web 2.0 and how it can used. Consideration is also given to how these new technologies create opportunities for educational practice. Because these opportunities are not yet being widely taken up, the present discussion focuses on identifying challenges that may be impeding adoption of Web 2.0 ideas in teaching and learning.
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Background

Web 2.0 is a set of web services and practices that give a voice to individual users. Such services thereby encourage internet users to participate in various communities of knowledge building and knowledge sharing. This has been made possible by the ever-extending reach of the (world wide) 'web'. Meanwhile, navigating and exploring this web of knowledge has been greatly facilitated by the increased functionality of the web 'browser'. The browser has thereby become the network reading/display tool that offers a universal point of engagement with the Web. More than that, the web browser has become a platform for of the use of digital tools in community interactions. Further, Web 2.0 refers to the recent expansion of the Web. This expansion can be thought of as a new layer on top of the Web and refers to the ways the platform, the Web, is used. Previously, WWW sites were relatively static sites and provided the user information. This second generation of Web tools includes communication tools, interaction with media and humans, and collaboration and sharing. Web 2.0 tools allow users to create online content--they are writing to the Web. Many of these tools require less technical skill to use the various features thereby allowing users to focus more on the information exchange between collaborators (Parker & Chao, 2007). These tools allow users to be more engaged which hopefully means that learners are more engaged in learning.

With a number of technological developments comes the creation of new ways of using the Web. Moreover, changes in access and speed have been accompanied by developments in software and data management. They also afford new patterns of internet use. In particular, the familiar web browser has become more versatile and easy to use. It has allowed a wider range of user interactions, collaboration, problem solving, and virtual teaming.

These changes and to some degree technological innovations have led to a more participatory experience of internet use (Cook, 2008). Thus, Web 2.0 has provided a version of internet experience that encourages individual users to upload: that is, to offer up their own contributions to a vast and interleaving exchange. This is implicitly contrasted with the former (Web 1.0) experience of the internet, which was more a matter of downloading: that is, accessing the contributions of a much smaller set of information providers. In sum, the barriers to production and distribution have been loosened: an invitation for widespread participation is in place.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Wiki: Short for “wiki wiki” which means “rapidly” in the Hawaiian language is a website that allows users with access to collaboratively create, edit, link, and categorize the content of a website in real time covering a variety of reference material. Wikis have evolved from being purely a reference site into collaborative tools to run community websites, corporate intranets, knowledge management systems and educational sites.

Net Generation Students: The present generation of undergraduate students who have grown up in a world dominated by technology and surrounded by multimedia.

Web 2.0 Technologies: A variety of new technologies, such as blogs, wikis, and media sharing sites and social network sites that provide user –centered opportunities to create and share content.

Podcasting: A multimedia file distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds, for playback on mobile devices and personal computers. Though podcasters’ web sites may also offer direct download or streaming of their content, a podcast is distinguished from other digital audio formats by its ability to be downloaded automatically using software capable of reading feed format.

Blog: A site maintained by an individual, organization or group or people, which contains recurrent entries of commentary, view points, descriptions of events, or multimedia material, such as images, pictures or videos. The entries are typically displayed in reverse chronological order with the most recent post being the current focus.

Web 2.0: A trend in World Wide Web technology, a second generation of web-based communities and hosted services such as social-networking sites, wikis, blogs, and other new technology approaches, which aim to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing among users.

Social Networking: A website is an online resource for building virtual social networks communities of individuals with common interests or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others.

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