Rethinking Learning
conversations about the future of teaching and learning
Barbara Bray
be creative, innovate, take risks, unlearn to learn
Oakland, CA

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Web 2.0 and Education
By Barbara Bray    October 26, 2006 -- 12:06 PM

Web 2.0 connects people and harnesses collective intelligence. There are no boundaries. It is a platform that delivers a service where customers use a specialized database. Google is a good example of Web 2.0 - much like a phone call, which happens not just on the phones at either end of the call, but on the network in between. Google happens in the space between browser and search engine and destination content server, as an enabler or middleman between the user and his or her online experience.

The Web 2.0 lesson is to "leverage customer self-service and algorithmic data management to reach out to the entire web, to the edges and not just the center, to the long tail and not just the head. " [
Source: Tim O’Reilly]

Education fits with Web 2.0. Teachers want to share and learn from other teachers. They point their students to resources on the Internet and use Google and other search engines to find relevant materials that support the curriculum. Many of the Web 2.0 tools and websites use
open source software that demonstrate the dynamics of content creation. 

Wikis like Wikipedia as an online encyclopedia allows people to add or edit any entry. This is a real test of trust.

Sites like and FlickR use "folksonomy" that is a collaborative categorization of sites from the authors tags. Tagging allows for multiple, overlapping associations kind of like the way our brains work. I might tag a website on flowers: plants, colors, gardens. Click on tag for colors and it might bring me to different websites about art. This is more random connections than a library’s catalog or directory. It is more user-controlled and depends on what they use as tags.

RSS made a real difference by allowing someone to link not just to a page, but to subscribe to it, with notification every time that page changes. You can call this the "live web".  Blogs not only allow the author to publish their own page but a link to this blog points to a constantly changing page.

Creative Commons and software like Perl and PHP are seeing an end to the Internet and publishing as usual. Textbooks can be co-developed and published by the users similar to how Wikis are developed. Copyright and intellectual property is changing. Old business models keep data private where FlickR, YouTube and other social networking tools make the data public and builds communities. The power or Web 2.0 is the users add value, content, data and even build the infrastructure collaboratively.

Tim O’Reilly lists the seven core competencies of a Web 2.0 companies:
  • Services, not packaged software, with cost-effective scalability
  • Control over unique, hard-to-recreate data sources that get richer as more people use them
  • Trusting users as co-developers
  • Harnessing collective intelligence
  • Leveraging the long tail through customer self-service
  • Software above the level of a single device
  • Lightweight user interfaces, development models, AND business models

How can education take advantage of this direction business and the world is going?

Please share your ideas on what you are seeing for education, you, and the Internet. How are these Web 2.0 tools affecting you?

Categories: "Web 2.0"

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Comments: Add New Comments
By Bill      October 30, 2006 -- 03:01 PM
The biggest changes for me have been in educating my students---and their parents---about how the internet is changing. Convincing people to use the communication and creation tools of the Read/Write Web takes effort and time. It also takes a willingness on the part of educators to learn about the potential of the Read/Write Web and to incorporate elements into their instruction---not an easy process. Specifically, my students have begun a regular podcast program that is an extension of a daily current events lesson that we do in class. In our podcast, we discuss the different sides of the current event and then try to engage listeners in our comment section. This shows students that they can add to the collective body of knowledge that is growing online. Our address is: We're also using wikis and discussion boards frequently. The kids adapt to these tools without any struggle....their parents are a bit more skeptical! Bill

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By small Tonya Herron      November 1, 2006 -- 11:47 AM
One problem we have is we are using dynamic resources to create static deliverables.  For example, our Social Studies teacher will not let his students use Wikipedia as a resource for written essays because he doesn't trust it.  He sites the time he looked up George W. Bush and saw the President's middle name changed to binLadin.  If the deliverable had been a wiki (instead of a written paper), then others could have collaborated on it and the error would have been found and corrected.  It might even have led to a discussion on ethics.  None of this is possible when your students are turning in papers.

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