The Web 2.0 is a powerful teaching resource as it encompasses the playful, expressive, reflective and exploratory aspects of knowledge building. Web 2.0 is an umbrella term for internet applications which support internet-based interaction between and within groups (social networking, wikis, folksonomies, virtual societies, blogging, multiplayer online gaming and ‘mash-ups’). These applications are built around the collaborative creation, acquisition and sharing of content amongst a communities of users. The educational benefits of Web 2.0 are derived from the readability / writeability of the web, where users can easily generate their own content as well as consume content produced by others.
When directed at learning, Web 2.0 impacts on four principal dimensions of learner experience. Two are broadly social in nature (collaboration and publication) and two are more cognitive (literacy and inquiry).
Collaboration: Web 2.0 offers educators a set of tools to support forms of learning that are highly collaborative and more oriented to the building of classroom communities. It allows learners to collaborate and coordinate actions and activities to construct common and shared learning and to source information and expertise from external sources.
Publication: The read-write character of Web 2.0 supports the creation of original material for publication in various formats (oral, written, audio, video) which would otherwise be difficult and expensive to achieve in a conventional classroom setting. The relatively unbounded space and global viewership offers a strong feeling of doing authentic research and contributes to the authors sense of self worth.
Literacy: Learning in conventional classrooms is primarily in written and spoken forms. Digital media stretches the conventional orientation of literacy by offering new forms of representation and expression. In a recent major review of England’s primary school curriculum, the conventional definition of ‘literacy’ has been stretched to include ‘digital literacy’.
Inquiry: Web 2.0 technologies offer new ways for learners to search and source information. It has created new structures for organising, cataloguing and sourcing data, all of which has the potential to empower students as independent learners. It puts potential seekers of information in direct contact with experts and provides an environment for geographically distributed users to take part in structured exchange for mutual benefit.
Web 2.0 offers learners a more participatory experience of learning in which individuals have increased opportunities to interact with other learners and providers of information. As learners become more and more engaged with digital technologies, gain fluency in their application, and with the job market assigning increased weightage to candidates with digital competencies, teaching practices and curriculum must address the challenge of developing these attributes.