Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Web 2.0 & Education

Something a little different today... One of the buzzwords currently doing the rounds in newspapers and magazines is 'Web 2.0', although a lot of people still seem confused as to what it actually means. While it's hard to come up with a precise definition as the technology is changing so quickly, Web 2.0 essentially refers to online content that has an interactive element, allowing users to contribute to the material on the screen in front of them. If you've ever used MySpace, Facebook, Wikipedia, Flickr, YouTube or countless similar sites then you've made use of Web 2.0 applications. Even this blog could be classed in this category, as users have the ability to leave comments and generate a discussion.

What has all this got to do with this blog's normal themes? I'll tell you! With the spread of e-learning into all areas of education, teachers and lecturers are starting to investigate how these new tools can be utilised as part of the learning experience. Much of the research in this area so far has concentrated on higher education, but there are examples of projects which have been carried out with young children. For example, pupils at a primary school in Scotland have been experimenting with blogging and podcasting, while this FutureLab report presents a case study of 13-14 year olds building a wiki as part of a project. Also worth looking at is this Guardian article from last year which lists several examples of the use of Web 2.0 within education, and this Becta factsheet which neatly summarises some of the issues currently confronting educators, as well as suggesting further sources of reading.

If you're interested in this topic then here's two more items which might interest you. Last year Time magazine gave its prestigious Person Of The Year title to You, by which it meant the mass of internet users who are reshaping the World Wide Web into new forms; you can read the full editorial fom this issue online. Or if you've got 5 minutes to spare why not watch The Machine is Us/ing Us, a fantastic short film which addresses many of the issues regarding the future direction of online information.

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