Web 2.0 and Online Learning

The idea of the World Wide Web is credited to Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee while working at MIT in March 1989. The original web focused of evolving volumes of information stored in simple hypertext markup language (HTML) that could be accessed through hyperlinking in web browsing software such as Mosaic. One of the initial attractions to the Web technology was the ability to support multimedia content, as opposed to the older Gopher databases of information.

A concern with the original Web was the information flowed one-way. Websites were unable to get information back from visitors except through cookies. With the addition of JavaScript, and the evolution of HTML, websites were able to be interactive with visitors. The newer world of the web is called “Web 2.0”. Web 2.0 is not a technically different web but a different philosophy.

Web 2.0 has:

  • Visitor driven content (For example; Wikipedia)
  • Social element (For example; Twitter)
  • Genuine interactivity, sharing (For example; You Tube – filtering, rating & voting)

Of interest for online learning, Web 2.0 features “collective intelligence”. Of concern with volumes of information added to sites like Wikipedia is the validity of information. To protect against misinformation many websites are moderated to help keep information as accurate as possible relative to the state of knowledge at a particular point in time. Our “common sense” guides us to be somewhat skeptical as we search for information and to consider the source of the information.

The social element of Web 2.0 has pro’s and con’s as a function of how the technology is used. For online learning, being able to virtually interact with other people interested is similar topics, is useful. Interaction may be between students, between students and teachers, and teachers can interact with other teachers. Web 2.0 has many tools and apps to support these various forms of interaction. Because there are so many tools and apps (https://www.pinterest.ca/esheninger/web-2-0-tools-for-educators/), it was suggested by Dr. Lorraine Beaudin to find tools by subject area.

Utilizing Web 2.0 for Online Learning in distance education was described in two examples by Feldmann, 2014 (Two Decades of e-learning in Distance Teaching – From Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 at the University of Hagen). Most people would agree that the Internet and the World Wide Web has changed the way we live. This is true in education, and how we learn as well. The opportunity to access information is quicker and easier than it was just ten years ago. The task for educators is to find the Web 2.0 tools and apps that work best for their classes and then support and develop those tools. As internet access is faster being able to utilize web-conferencing where video and audio are relayed is an example of Web 2.0 interactivity (https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2014/03/using-web-conferencing-tools-to-enhance-students-experiences/)

Feldmann, 2014. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-10671-7_16


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