Web 2.0 and education – a good partnership

We viewed the arrival of the Web as revolutionary. Today we look back at Web 1.0 and find that it was slow, passive, formally structured, dense with text, inconveniently centralised in a static environment. Once Web 1.0’s copiously linked information and global connectivity was accessible on multi-functional mobile devices, a truly revolutionary innovation became possible: Web 2.0!

Web 2.0 tools, such as Twitter, allows user created content to be shared and distributed instantaneously, globally.

Web 2.0 affords users ways to become producers and distributors of “rich and multifaceted” information (Conole, 2012, p.47). The open, social and participatory media that made the evolution of Web 2.0 possible, allowed new ways to produce, communicate, share and collaborate information. The participatory nature of Web 2.0 technology enabled users to actively create, remix and repurpose content and to develop new practices of sharing it. The social nature allowed people to connect and encourage new levels of collaboration. The open nature encouraged building societal knowledge through collective aggregation and peer critiquing and encouraged new supportive communities of practice. An important contribution of Web 2.0 is not only the technological advances it brought, but that (through social media), human intelligence and passion is amplified.

Conole (2012) showed clearly how the open, social and participatory nature of the Web 2.0 environment changed the way that we produce and interact with information and knowledge, as well as how we share and communicate it. She also pointed out that, because of this central repository of linked information and the multiplicity of connectivity, the scale of user participation enabled it to effectively change all aspects of our society (pp. 47-48). It is changing the environment where learning and teaching takes place – redefining the boundaries between the traditional and formal educational contexts and the non-formal and informal learning contexts (p. 204), or, as she calls it the “changing digital landscape of education” (p. 48).

Web 2.0 tools allow for a more personalized learner-centered approach, where learners are more motivated as independent directors of their own learning: The learning environment is more social and collaborative, allowing for dialogic and peer learning and reflection. These characteristics of Web 2.0 align well with modern pedagogy, promoting a constructivist approach, where learners can actively construct their own understanding through experiential– and problem– and inquiry-based learning (pp. 57-8). It is a fertile environment where reforming new educational approaches, such as the connected learning model, can be collaboratively developed, implemented, evaluated and discussed by educators.

It can be argued that these new initiatives, such as connected learning, need the open, social and participatory media of Web 2.0 to be successful. Web 2.0 encourages all basic principles of connected learning: User generation of content support a production-centered approach. The open-networked nature of the Web allows interest-driven inquiry and exploration. Collaboration tools allow and encourage shared-purpose and peer-supported sharing and working.

Our school benefits from the advantages that Web 2.0 holds for education through adaptation of an integrated Google Apps for Education environment. Our students create, communicate, share, collaborate and reflect – seemingly seamless – on their Chromebooks, while their teachers collaborate, direct, guide, evaluate and assess in the same environment. What can be questioned is if this somewhat exclusive platform gives our students sufficient exposure to alternative tools and broad digital literacy. It is, however, true that students access their Google environment from other devices at school as BYOD is encouraged, or have at home. The Web 2.0 platform allows us important steps in reimagining the educational experience for the information age.

I cannot help but wonder how we will view this revolutionary Web 2.0, once it is replaced by Web 3.0 or another successor.

REFERENCE:
Conole, G. (2012). Designing for learning in an open world. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

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11 thoughts on “Web 2.0 and education – a good partnership

  1. Hi Gretha,

    It’s funny to think how we’ve seen the rise of Web 1.0 but then how it’s successor Web 2.0 as a key participatory tool for education. I’m in awe at the future possibilities regarding Web 3.0, ‘big’ data and artificial intelligence. Speaking of intelligence, your blog is fantastic!

    The similarities between Connected Learning and Connectivism are clear. To me it feels as if Connectivism, as a learning theory, is the driver of Connected Learning the classroom pedagogical application.

    Now that we’ve acknowledged that personalised learning approaches that utilise the networked and participatory tools of Web 2.0 are relevant for ‘today’, what are the teacher, school and parent roles? More specifically, what key stakeholders ‘doing’ in an exemplary application of these learning theories and pedagogies?

    Similar to your school, I support teachers and students integrate technology and G Suite for Education into the classroom context. But with great changes in the educational landscape, there are divides between the technology affordances and the institutional capabilities to fully harness these affordances.

    Reading your blog made me think that there’s a need to ensure that at a tertiary level, the teachers of tomorrow are introduced to and study within contexts of connected learning and connectivist principles.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Chris

    • Hi Chris,

      Thank you for adding your thoughts to my post.

      Yes, I also believe that the success of re-inventing education lies in the training of future (an active) teachers. Their attitudes towards education are going to be crucial, unless – in Web 3.0 – we are replaced by virtual learning assistants! Is this an inevitable result of connectivism and artificial intelligence? Is this what truly personalised learning will become?

      And yes, in the networked nature of the digital society “connectivism” makes sense as learning theory and connected learning articulates much of my intuitive feeling of the direction into which education is evolving in the digital environment. Are there alternatives views on this? I do not have enough time to research this and only came across one possibility in a book by Ricci and Pritscher on Holistic Pedagogy. Have you come across other points of view yet?

      Good luck with your studies and thanks again for contributing to my pondering.

    • (Sorry Reposting original comment with references)

      Hi Gretha,

      It’s funny to think how we’ve seen the rise of Web 1.0 but then how it’s successor Web 2.0 as a key participatory tool for education. I’m in awe at the future possibilities regarding Web 3.0, ‘big’ data and artificial intelligence. Speaking of intelligence, your blog is fantastic!

      The similarities between Connected Learning and Connectivism are clear. To me it feels as if Connectivism (Seiman, 2004), as a learning theory, is the driver of Connected Learning the classroom pedagogical application.

      Now that we’ve acknowledged that personalised learning approaches that utilise the networked and participatory tools of Web 2.0 are relevant for ‘today’, what are the teacher, school and parent roles? More specifically, what are key stakeholders ‘doing’ in an exemplary application of these learning theories and pedagogies?

      Similar to your school, in my current role I support teachers and students integrate technology and G Suite for Education into the classroom context. But with great changes in the educational landscape, there are divides between the technology affordances and the institutional capabilities to fully harness these affordances.

      Reading your blog made me think that there’s a need to ensure that at a tertiary level and beyond the teachers of tomorrow are introduced to, and study within contexts of connected learning and connectivist principles. To support the educational agency capacity for these teachers and to support the adoption of and adaption to new digital technologies (Garland & Tadeja, 2013, p. 53).

      References

      Siemens, G. (2004, December 12). Connectivism: A learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

      Garland, V. E., Tadeja. C. (2013). Educational Leadership and Technology. Florence: Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/detail.action?docID=1108603

  2. An update to this post, relevant to Web 3.0: O’Connell says Web 3.0 is all about data. Berners Lee says it is about linked data. Others say it is about Big Data.

    The goal of having access to all this linked the data is to enable machines to make use of human generated web pages and create links that we as humans simply will not have capacity (time) to do. The machines will do what they do best: crunch numbers and we (humans) can do what we do best and “think” (interpret) the results. Web 3.0 will really become reality when standards for metadata have been more widely excepted and implemented – again, as with Web 2.0 it is the network effect that is needed for the new to become norm.

    Slide 37 of O’Connell’s presentation (which I seem unable to insert into this comment) shows the relation between Web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and X really well, by mapping the relationship between degree of information connectivity and degree of social connectivity: Web 2.0 expanded on the social connectivity of Web 1.0. Web 3.0 will once again see a leap in information connectivity (metadata) and, presumably, the next leap (Web X) will again be in social connectivity.
    ——————————————————————–
    References

    O’Connell’s slides can be retrieved here: https://www.slideshare.net/heyjudeonline/preparing-our-students-for-web-30-learning

    Berner’s Lee’s comments from here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeUrEh-nqtU&feature=youtu.be

  3. Hi Gretha,
    We too use many of the Google Apps for education at our school and have been for some years but the use of technologies by teachers across the school “is far from ubiquitous” (Conole, 2012, p. 59). I was staggered to find that many students in my senior English class had not collaborated on a Google Doc. As you’d know, there are protocols and skills needed to work effectively within the same document. I had assumed that I would not have to teach these and felt frustrated that it was left to me given they were in their final year. But I felt compelled to persist as I’d just read the Future Skills Report 2020 (Davies, Fidler, & Gorbis, 2011) and the skill, “virtual collaboration”, was ringing alarm bells in my mind – the students were not really prepared for the participatory requirements of the web as professional adults.
    It seems that some teachers may not be aware of these skills, or value these skills and I think many of us may struggle with how to teach these skills. Starkey’s comment that teachers will “need to understand theories of teaching and learning in the digital age to an extent that it influences their beliefs” (Starkey, 2011, p. 33) is particularly true. The assessment of learning in new ways is also problematic. Has your school had any difficulties with having a consistent approach?
    Regards,
    Julia

    Conole, G. (2012). Open, social and participatory media Designing for learning in an open world (pp. 47-63). NY, UNITED STATES: Springer New York.
    Davies, A., Fidler, D., & Gorbis, M. (2011). Future work skills 2020. Retrieved from http://www.iftf.org/uploads/media/SR-1382A_UPRI_future_work_skills_sm.pdf
    Starkey, L. (2011). Evaluating learning in the 21st century: a digital age learning matrix. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20(1), 19-39. doi:10.1080/1475939X.2011.554021

    • Hi Julia,

      Thank you for responding to my post and for this continued opportunity to further discuss… We only switched to the Google environment about 3 years ago. We had a wonderful Director of e-Learning (John Mikton) who spent time with each and every teacher until they were comfortable with the environment. This made a huge difference. If teachers can overcome their fear of a tech tool or environment, the battle is mostly won. BUT, if there is a group of our students who have not taken the plunge completely it is our more senior students, I think they were just too set in their ways to completely embrace the GAFE environment. I middle schoolers have been exposed to Chromebooks in all their classes, which made the transition pretty easy.

  4. Hi Gretha,

    Firstly, thankyou for writing a fantastic post. It has been quite informative to read and something of which I have enjoyed responding to also.

    Over the past few years, I have really come to realise from my experience as a Borough-wide teacher of ICT & Computing, there are two different kinds of teachers within the primary classroom setting. The first is the consistent user of web 1.0 technologies and the second is the evolutionary user who takes the plunge into web 2.0 technologies. Every week I come across are still using many web resources at 1.0 versions instead of web 2.0 tools that could otherwise be used to promote deeper learning experiences and understandings within our students. A perfect example of this is would be the rigid if not ignorant adherence to non-communicative word processors within literacy and English tasks. Instead of using collaborative cloud-based documents (e.g Google Docs, Padlets etc.) using tools that facilitate ‘users to actively create, remix and repurpose content, and to develop new practices of sharing it, teachers remain unwilling or unable (for a variety of reasons) to embrace the participatory nature of Web 2.0 technology. (Downes, 2005). I therefore agree with you when you draw upon Conole’s (2012, p.47) contention that Web 2.0 technologies afford users ways to become ’producers and distributors’ of “rich and multifaceted” information.
    You rightly assert that ‘dialogic and peer learning and reflection align well with modern Web 2.0 based pedagogy, thus promoting constructivist approaches, experiential learning, and inquiry-based learning. The development and possession of these skills is vital for students looking to participate within the high-knowledge economies of the future. As we move further away from our industrialist roots and into specialisms that are yet to be developed, we must look toward the trends and demands of the labour market in order determine the skills we must develop today. Redecker et al (2011) believe that ‘personalisation, collaboration and informalisation’ will become the key skills of the future, which I am sure you would readily accept a necessary also. As technology becomes even more prevalent in today’s society, students need increased expertise in digital technologies. Twenty-first century teachers must carefully guide their students within technology-rich environments. ‘In the 21st century classroom, effective teachers and students orchestrate learning environments in which individual expertise in technology is shared with a broader community of learners’. (Larson & Miller, 2011). As teachers, we must seek to continually develop and reshape our practice as the future of our students begins to reveal itself.

    REFERENCE:
    Conole, G. (2012). Designing for learning in an open world. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

    Downes, S. (2005). E-learning 2.0. Elearn magazine, 2005(10), 1.

    Larson, L. C., & Miller, T. N. (2011). 21st century skills: Prepare students for the future. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 47(3), 121-123.

    Redecker, C., Leis, M., Leendertse, M., Punie, Y., Gijsbers, G., Kirschner, P., … & Hoogveld, B. (2011). The future of learning: preparing for change. Rapport Commission Européenne.

    • Hi Sean,

      Thank you for reading and responding to my post! We (as teachers) are so often the limiting factors in our students’ use of technology. I was cured of this early in my time as a teacher of computer science my 16-18 year old students out-performed me many a day. If they were only allowed to learn and experience what I had already learned and felt comfortable with, we would all have been very frustrated!

  5. jilliangoudie

    Hi Gretha,

    I heartily subscribe your examples of the participatory, social and open nature of Web 2.0, but I think you have nailed the key feature passion.

    Prior to Web 2.0, communication was not as personable – and the corresponding options to develop rapport were limited.

    Irrespective of the communications platform used, it’s evident that the affordance of Web 2.0 has given a voice to many, turning consumers of knowledge into producers of ideas and concepts.

    I think this voice is a key factor in the development of the many ideas and implementations that we are fortunate to witness, confirming Conole (2012) assertion that the scale of user participation enabled it to effectively change all aspects of our society (pp. 47-48)

    In response to your query “I cannot help but wonder how we will view this revolutionary Web 2.0, once it is replaced by Web 3.0 or another successor”, can I suggest : “Preparing our students for web 3.0 Judy O’Connelll https://www.slideshare.net/heyjudeonline/preparing-our-students-for-web-30-learning

    REFERENCE:
    Conole, G. (2012). Designing for learning in an open world. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer

    O’Connell, J. (2012, November 11). Preparing our students for Web 3.0 learning. Australia.

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