The term Web 2.0 does not refer to a particular online learning platform. Instead, Web 2.0 is about a wide variety of emerging technologies that are user-friendly, social in nature and highly engaging to users. Examples of Web 2.0 technologies include Facebook, Blogs, Wikis, Social Bookmarking, YouTube and Photosharing sites.
Web 2.0 is also about ease of use, access and affordability and most Web 2.0 technologies are low cost or free, and easy for the average person to use. Web 2.0 technologies have created a huge shift in the way people use and think about technology. Web 2.0 is fundamentally about using technology interactively to allow people to directly collaborate, create and share content over the Internet.
Web 2.0 technologies are designed so that ordinary people with basic computer skills can actively engage with technology and other people over the Internet. With Web 2.0 technologies everyone can contribute. Web 2.0 builds on the inherent strengths of the Internet. Web 2.0 technologies are designed to be user-friendly, highly democratic, interactive and collaborative. They are also typically low cost or free. Users do not need to buy any software or take any special training.
Web 2.0 is sometimes also referred to as the “Read-Write” web or Social Media. Using the term “social media”, this video by Common Craft explains the basic principles and benefits of Web 2.0: www.commoncraft.com/socialmedia.
These new technologies are very engaging to users. In fact, it would be hard to overstate the extreme popularity of Web 2.0 technologies. Just ask anyone under 35! For example, according to the market research company ComScore, in the month of June 2008, over 132 million unique users visited Facebook.
In the Getting Online research, the most common Web 2.0 technologies identified were:
We covered each of these above technologies in detail throughout this module. Please go to those particular sections (covered in alphabetical order) for more information on each.
Some of the other common Web 2.0 technologies are:
Photosharing sites allow users to upload photos to a central website where people can share photographs with one another over the Internet. People can make comments and discuss each other's photographs and they can organize and annotate their own photos. You can share your photos either publicly or with a private group of people. One of the most common photosharing sites is Flickr (http://flickr.com/). The Common Craft show gives a great overview about photosharing: www.commoncraft.com/photosharing.
RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and it is a technology that is used to send updates from your favourite websites or blogs to one central place where you can easily retrieve and read new online content. RSS feeds are also called “newsreaders” or “newsfeeds”. There are different RSS feeds available and most are free. Two common RSS feeds are Google Reader (www.google.com/reader) and Bloglines (www.bloglines.com). When you login to your newsreader, any articles or updates that have been posted since you last logged in will appear for each site you feed from. This is a great way to keep up-to-date without having to browse to a variety of individual sites. For more information on RSS feeds, just watch this helpful video: www.commoncraft.com/rss_plain_english.
Social bookmarking involves saving your favourite websites to a central website. On a social bookmarking site, you can see and access the “favourites” lists of others and they can see yours. Social bookmarking allows you to access your list of favourites from any computer with an Internet connection. All you need to do is login to your social bookmarking website. One of the most common sites is Delicious (http://delicious.com/).
Social Messaging Systems
Social messaging is a way for people to share information online in a highly shortened form. It is somewhat similar to instant messaging only it is more accessible and broad-based. Probably the best known social messaging site is Twitter (www.twitter.com). Each Twitter posting (or “Tweet”) must be 140 characters long or less. Each posting typically has the user answer the question: “What are you doing?” It is a simple, casual, fun way for people to keep in touch. For example, during the 2008 presidential election race in the United States, Twitter was used to keep the public updated on where the candidates would be.p
Virtual worlds are just what they sound like! These are 3-D online worlds where people set up an “avatar” (a virtual character) who interacts with others in a virtual environment. Virtual world “residents” actually design and create their own worlds and interact with others, using a variety of applications. One of the most popular virtual worlds is called “Second Life” (http://secondlife.com/whatis/). While mostly used for recreation, many people are also using virtual worlds for business and educational purposes. You can learn more about this phenomenon here: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7015.pdf.
More to Come with Web 2.0!
The overview of these Web 2.0 technologies will hopefully get you started on the exiting educational journey offered by these technologies. However, the sky is the limit and new Web 2.0 applications are constantly emerging. Be sure to keep your ear to the ground (or eye on the Internet!) because by this time next year, there are sure to be new applications or enhancements and new ways to use to existing ones.
Technology in Action
A literacy organization could use Flickr (www.flickr.com) (an online photosharing site) to collect and share photographs from its annual community Book Festival. It could then take the “best of the best” of these photographs and prepare an online collection of photographs to promote its agency to the community. Similarly, this online collection of photos could be used to recruit volunteers and partners for next year's Book Festival!
A literacy organization could use Delicious (www.delicious.com) (a social bookmarking site) to collaborate with other literacy programs and educational services in their community to develop an annotated and tagged online collection of the best adult learning websites. The literacy organization could then, in turn, share this online collection of websites with all staff and tutors in their agency as well as its literacy colleagues from across the province. All of these people could then continue to add to the online collection of websites on adult learning!
A literacy organization could develop a promotional video on YouTube (www.youtube.com) about adult upgrading. This video could be shared at community presentations and also posted to its website. It would be an effective and innovative way to promote the agency to adult learners, volunteers, funders, and the general community.
Additional Resources about Web 2.0
The Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenberg County in the US has created an online self-study, guided tour of emerging technologies called “Learning 2.0: The 23 Things”. This is a highly recommended resource. See: http://plcmcl2-things.blogspot.com/.
Peter Duffy of Hong Kong Polytechnic University has written a helpful overview of Web 2.0 technologies and education called “Engaging the YouTube Google-Eyed Generation: Strategies for Using Web 2.0 in Teaching and Learning.” It is available at: www.ejel.org/Volume-6/v6-i2/Duffy.pdf.
Google has created a website called “Google for Non Profits” which provides a variety of tools to promote your cause, raise money, and operate more efficiently. Google's slogan for the site is: “You're changing the world. We want to help”. Check it out at: www.google.com/nonprofits/.
Michael Wesch of Kansas State University created this YouTube video about new technologies and their profound impact on our world called “Web 2.0: The Machine is Us/ing Us”. See: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE&eurl
Larry Ferlazzo has developed “The Best Web 2.0 Applications for Education in 2008” website at: http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2008/09/11/the-best-web-20-applications-for-education-2008/.
A marketing company called “Twist Image” has written an article which overviews simple ways organizations can use Web 2.0 to improve their marketing. This article is called “Ten Simple Ways Non-Profits Can Win at Social Media Marketing” and it is available at: www.twistimage.com/blog/archives/10-simple-ways-nonprofits-can-win-at-social-media-marketing/.
TechSoup has an informative article written by Alexandra Krasne called “What Is Web 2.0 Anyway? Indispensable tools your nonprofit should know about”. See: www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/webbuilding/archives/page9344.cfm.
For general information about social networking see the Wikipedia entry at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_network_services.