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What is Web 2.0?


This page includes materials from an online course that Dr. Helen Barrett developed to explain Web 2.0. It is provided as a supplement to the course materials. Ignore the assigned activities.

Web 2.0 Overview

What is Web 2.0?

What are the characteristics of Web 2.0 tools that facilitate interactive learning?

Make sure that you have the best web browser to use with Web 2.0 tools (Firefox.org), especially if you are using a Mac.

The learner will:

  • use Wikipedia to find basic information online about Web 2.0 and all the technologies to be explored in this class.

Search Google for the term "Web 2.0" and explore some of the first page of links, including Wikipedia's definition of Web 2.0

  • Watch these short online videos on Web 2.0

If you are in Higher Education, read this article: The Future of Web 2.0 in Campus Technology.

If you are in K-12 Education, read A Day in the Life of Web 2.0 in Technology & Learning

If you are in Teacher Education, read both!

  • set up a blog to reflect on and document the learning that will take place in this course. A blog entry will be required each week, with hyperlinks to the Web 2.0 sites created, and reflections on the explorations that week.
Sign up for an account on one of the following blogging tools:

Write a first entry in the blog, reflecting on why you signed up for the course and what you would like to achieve. In this first entry, also reflect on the nature of Web 2.0 (interactivity/participation) and the nature of learning (interactive/social) and your first impressions how this emerging technology of Web 2.0 can relate to the future of learning (which is the focus of the rest of the class).

Set up a page/notebook/crib sheet to keep track of all of the websites, usernames and passwords that you will be creating on the different systems in this class (until all of these sites accept OpenID). I set up a GoogleDocs Spreadsheet with the following columns:

Site Name URL to Log In Log In name (or email) Password


Blogs & RSS Feeds

How can we use web log (blog) tools as eJournals to document learning over time?

How do we use RSS feeds to keep track of changes in web pages?

The learner will:

  • review the role of blogs as an eJournal, eDOL (Electronic Documentation of Learning) or a learning portfolio.
  • use RSS feeds to facilitate communication in the course, using an RSS aggregator such as the web-based Google Reader or client software, such as certain browsers.

Do a Google search on blog, blogs and learning, blogs in education, and edublog including articles in Wikipedia.

Watch the following YouTube video: Blogs in Plain English by CommonCraft

Watch The Pedagogy of Blogging (by Dr. Christopher Long, Penn State University) with his associated Blogging Scoring Rubric (PDF).

Watch the following YouTube video: RSS in Plain English by CommonCraft

Browse through this set of web pages, What the heck is RSS?

Set up an RSS reader, such as GoogleReader or NetVibes

Subscribe to the RSS feeds of the blogs of the members of the class (links located in the class discussion)

Write an entry in your blog, reflecting on your experiences with setting up your blog, setting up your RSS reader, and your Google search on blogging to support learning.

E-Portfolios

How can we use Web 2.0 tools to create presentation portfolios in formal education for different purposes and audiences?

The learner will:

  • review the multiple purposes for creating electronic portfolios, and the various online tools used to create them.
  • use GoogleDocs. Google Sites, a wiki, one of the web page authoring sites, OR the web page builders in certain blogging tools (Movable Type or WordPress.com) to create a presentation portfolio for a self-selected purpose and audience (due at the end of the course).

Select one of the tools to create an online presentation portfolio, based on the Categories of ePortfolio tools and Dr. Barrett's description of Web 2.0 tools and Google tools. Dr. Barrett has posted "How To" documents for creating electronic portfolios with GoogleDocs Document, GoogleDocs Presentation, GooglePages, WikiSpaces, PBWiki, and WordPress.com. Notice that you can also see examples of Dr. Barrett's ePortfolio created with each of these tools from the Web 2.0 tools page.

Create a blog entry that reflects on your explorations with the readings, and describes the purpose that you have selected to use to structure your electronic portfolio that you will create for this class. Also, reflect on your choice of the Web 2.0 tool that you will use to create that portfolio.



Online Digital Storage

How can we set up an online repository for our digital life?

The learner will:

  • explore online storage services that could be used to create a digital archive/working portfolio/lifetime personal web space.

Read Dr. Barrett's article on Online Personal Learning Environments: Structuring Electronic Portfolios for Lifelong and Life Wide Learning

Conduct a Google search on "online storage" or "file hosting" (including Wikipedia) and explore some of the options available.

  • review Microsoft's MyLifeBits research project.
    Go to Microsoft's MyLifeBits research project website and read some of the more recent papers posted there.
  • set up an online space to store a variety of digital documents.

Create a blog entry that reflects on the readings, and your experiences exploring some of these sites, identify which site you decided to use, your reasons for selecting that sites, etc.


Social Networks

How do FaceBook, MySpace, Ning or LinkedIn support informal and social learning?

How do Social Bookmarks support learning?

The learner will:

  • join one of the social networks and explore this social phenomenon within the context of informal and social learning (such as MySpace or FaceBook or Ning or LinkedIn or Club Penguin if you have children in elemenary school)
  • use Social Bookmarks and tags to support learning (such as del.icio.us, furl.com or diigo.com), tagging some of your favorite websites using the class tag _____________.

Read the following article: Why students (love) MySpace, a presentation by Danah Boyd at the AAAS Conference in February 2006. Conduct a Google search on social networks and learning. Read a few of the articles that you find, including the article in Wikipedia.

Watch the following YouTube video: Social Networking in Plain English by CommonCraft.

Watch the following YouTube video: Social Bookmarking in Plain English by CommonCraft.

Do you Twitter? Watch the following YouTube video Twitter in Plain English

Write an entry in your blog, reflecting on your experience with social networking and social bookmarking, and the potential for supporting learning. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you think using these tools to support learning? If you are comfortable, share your social network name or your social bookmark name in the class discussion area ___________.


Photo Archives

How can we use digital photo archives as part of lifelong photo archives and digital scrapbooks of life experiences?

The learner will:

  • use Google's Picasa, Yahoo's Flickr or other online digital image archives to share photos or other digital images.

Watch the following YouTube video: Online Photo Sharing in Plain English by CommonCraft

Write an entry in your blog about online photo sharing and the impact of this Web 2.0 technology on learning. Read other student blog entries (that show up in your RSS feed) and make comments where appropriate.


Multimedia Content Sharing

How can we use online multimedia tools to tell our stories digitally?

The learner will:

  • explore the use of podcasting (online audio) and digital storytelling (online video), and the variety of audio/video sharing sites available. [Creating a podcast or digital story is optional.]

Explore the Wikipedia entries on "podcasting" and "digital storytelling" and follow some of the links in each article.

Watch the following YouTube video Podcasting in Plain English by CommonCraft.

Read Dr. Barrett's online paper Multiple Purposes of Digital Stories in ePortfolios and watch some of the digital stories linked from the paper. Watch Dr. Barrett's video ePortfolio as Digital Story of Deep Learning

Optional: if you would like to create a simple digital story or podcast, read Dr. Barrett's How to Create Simple Digital Stories using either MovieMaker2 or PhotoStory for Windows or iMovie for Macintosh. Create an account on one of the video sharing sites and upload video. Link to video in ePortfolio. [This could be the entire curriculum for another course!]

Create a blog entry reflecting on sharing multimedia content online, and whether you created an audio or video file to add to your portfolio. Reflect on the impact of digital storytelling or podcasting on learning.


Final Reflection (and What's Next?)

What have we learned about Web 2.0 tools that can be used to support lifelong and life wide learning? What is coming?

The learner will:

  • write a final blog entry summarizing their impressions of learning with Web 2.0 tools and how they will be used in the future.
  • submit the e-portfolio started earlier for review and feedback.

What's next in Web 2.0 development?

Explore ReadWriteWeb, a website devoted to various Web 2.0 developments.

AJAX Start Pages: Explore iGoogle, Protopage, or NetVibes. See Dr. Barrett's Protopage ePortfolio Mash-Up.

Microsoft's new LiveMesh platform (on ReadWriteWeb, on Mesh.com website (see Web 2.0 conference video link below).

To get a sense of different technologies being developed by Web 2.0 developers at the Web 2.0 conference held in San Francisco in April 2008, watch some of the videos that are posted on blip.tv. Some videos provide a glimpse of some of the Web 2.0 technologies under development from companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo, WordPress, and AOL. Hang on! As the song goes, "We've only just begun!"

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