Web 2.0 for Education:


Web 2.0 is one of the latest buzz word in education. If I ask, "What don't you understand about Web 2.0?"

Your answer would probably be, "What do you mean Web 2.0?" Regardless of all the hype, workshops and conversations, for most teachers, the question still remains, "What really is Web 2.0 and how can it be used in education?"

[Tim O'Riley[Dale Dougherty

The term and the concept of Web 2.0 began at a conference, during a brainstorming session between Tim O'Riley and Dale Dougherty (They really don't look like revolutionaries!). Over night, the idea of Web 2.0 became the buzzword in both internet and in educational circles. There are those, however, that still think it is nothing more than a meaningless marketing ploy. Others, especially in education, have accepted it, embrace it and use it as the "New Way."

One major problem is there's still a huge amount of disagreement about what Web 2.0 is or means — there is no clear definition and any definitions can and will change according to whom you are speaking. Most use comparative elements or a set of principles and practices to qualify or quantify Web 2.0.

The Web As Platform

The first principle is "The web as platform." This is a simple statement but is really the gravitational core. This means that a browser, any browser that is used, is the desk top. All applications now reside and are fully operable from the internet rather than being installed on the computer's hard drive.

Google is one of the standard bearers for Web 2.0 applications. It is a specialized database, which operates on any Web browser. It's totally interactive, changing according to the user's parameters, giving rapid access to images, videos, local and national news and products. It also gives a host of other services such as g-mail, calendars, groups and maps. Google purchased YouTube, another of the major Web 2.0 applications. Now Google is adding a word processor to its applications replacing some of the Web 1.0 applications created by companies such as MicroSoft or Apple. Other Web 2.0 applications include eBay, Amazon, Napster, Flicker and Akamai.

The Web is and should be an integral part of education process. The questions about its validity could be asked about any media, including major TV news organizations or news papers news organizations. The internet is the largest library, the largest encyclopedia and the largest up-to-date text in existence, which is an excellent case for Web usage in the classroom.

Social Publishing

In Web 1.0, a very small number of writers produced the Web pages for a large number of readers. This led to the creation of mega Web sites for companies such as Microsoft, Apple or Sun Microsystems. People visited these few sites to get information directly from the source. Over time, however, more and more users began to write and want to publish their informational content as well as reading it. This had an interesting effect—there simply weren't enough outlets for those who wanted to publish and there wasn't enough time for everyone who wanted attention to visit all sites with relevant content. Thus, the Blog was born.

A Blog is a personal or informational Web site. But in Web 2,0, once the author places materials—ideas, ideals, assorted comments or other information—on a blog, this material is open for additions, subtractions or comments from anyone who would like to respond. This action or reaction to the blog materials is social publishing and it is not only requested but also expected by the original author.

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Social publication goes much farther. Wikis allow for collaborative creation of definitions and / or encyclopedic-type information. Authors / writers can "share" audio and video podcasts (see: Podcasts) via Apple's iLife. Photographs and videos can be published on You Tube, Flicker and iFilm. Social Bookmarking creates a list of Web site links for people with similar interests.

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Blog space is free in many instances, so every teacher / class could have a blog. Students respond and publish more rapidly to materials placed on a blog by either a teacher or other students. The quality of student writing, audio podcast and vidcast is much better as students realize that this work is published on the Web.

Wikis are an outstanding tool in the classroom. Students create a centralized glossary of terms complete with definitions to be used in the classroom. Any student can add, subtract and edit this content or create a new term. Extra materials may be added as needed, creating a class "wikipedia." Over a few years, classes could create a very sizeable amount of information for student usage.

Although this is not social bookmarking in the stickiest sense of the word, here is a suggestion for bookmarking in a classroom. Open MicroSoft Word and create a list of Web links for the class. Allow students to add a link as they find sites which should be added to the list.

Subscribing and Tagging

Publication does little good if no one can locate your content. Web 2.0 provides two methods for locating new or up-to-date information— tagging and RSS subscribing.

A tag is a simple discriptive name which can be used to categorize their posts, photos, videos or podcast. Any name may be used, but it should be discriptive and relevant to the material being tagged. The Technorati Tag pages are the most used.

Anyone with a blog can contribute to Technorati Tag pages. Most blog software, (such as Movable Type, WordPress, TypePad, Blogware, Radio), supports categories. Simply include the category system and be sure to publish to the RSS/Atomic feeds and the categories will be read as tags.

If the blog software doesn't support categories, you can still participate. To tag your material, include this link in the body of your post. Please note that two word tags should be joined by a "+". For example:

<a class="one" href="http://technorati.com/tag/[tagname]" rel="tag">[tagname]</a>

<a class="one" href="http://technorati.com/tag/ [tagname]+[tagname]" rel="tag"> [tagname tagname]</a>

<a class="one" href="http://technorati.com/tag/ global+warming" rel="tag">global warming</a>

Your blog software should be configured to ping Technorati. If your blog software does not support automatic pinging, you can manually ping it at http://technorati.com/. You do not have to link to Technorati. You can link to any web page that ends in a tag, even if it is on your site.

RSS (Real Simple Syndication) subscribing is another method for locating new material on the Web (see: RSS-XML Information). Sometimes referred to as feeds, news feeds or web feeds, it can be used on a Web site as well as on a blog. My Web site —MMResourcecenter.org— is syndicated.

A simple XML code (see: RSS Code Made Easy) is added to the site. Using an aggregrator or browser enabled or a podcatcher, (see: Aggregrators & Pdocatchers) a viewer can subscribe to an RSS site. When new materials are posted, a notification is automatically sent to all subscribers.

For class blogs that want a larger, more mass appeal, tagging is a good alternative, however, I feel that RSS offers the more useful tool set.

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