July 2007, Volume 8, Issue 1

What is Web 2.0?

Everyone's talking and writing about it, but there is no widespread agreement on what it means. After all, the term "Web 2.0" was born and adopted by users to mean whatever they wanted.

The term, Web 2.0, arose at a 2003 conference brainstorming session between Dale Dougherty and Tim O'Reilly, after the dot-com supposed crash in 2001. In examining the phenomena, they "noted that far from having 'crashed,' the web was more important than ever, with exciting new applications and sites popping up with surprising regularity... Could it be that the dot-com collapse marked some kind of turning point for the web...?" They agreed that it did, and so the first Web 2.0 Conference was born.

The following image was taken from http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html , where O'Reilly attempts to define the term. It shows a center set of principles, surrounded by applications of those principles in various forms.

Simply put, Web 2.0 joins numerous sites to offer a collaborative environment, where users have dozens of tools available to share in the creation and exchange of ideas, resources, talents and products. Ideal Web 2.0 tools for education include blogs, wikis, podcasting, document and media sharing, and much, much more. And then there's YouTube, Second Life, Flicker, and, and, and.

Initially, online teachers had to use many different resources and software to teach an online class: discussion software, websites, search engines, on and on. Then, the classroom management system (CMS) began to show up: Blackboard, WebCT, D2L, and others. Now, the tendency is to use the CMS as a spring board, adding the resources of Web 2.0 to enrich the "classroom" experience. From many, to one, to many again! What is wonderful about most of the tools available to teachers are free.

Please take the time to go to http://www.downes.ca/. Stephen Downes works at the National Research Council, Institute for Information Technology, in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. He specializes in online learning, content syndication, and new media. Scroll down the page to Stephen's Usability: Guerilla Tactics video clip (about 20 minutes), where he discusses the tools in Web 2.0. He goes over some of the resources rather quickly, but his talk will definitely pique your curiosity about what's out there for you and for students. "Information is a flow, not a static collection of objects," indeed.

It is an exciting time for learning, and the new generation needs new tools. Let's learn about them enough to use those that fit our students.

TechBeat will be discussing several Web 2.0 tools, beginning with blogs, and following with several more. I'll also have a dynamite clip for you next time, describing the needs of our new generation.

Blogs in Education

Blog is an abbreviation for Web Log. Blogging means Web Logging.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog (By the way, wikipedia.org is a wiki, which means that you can open the site and edit any of its information. That's what a wiki does, and you can get your very own for free! That will be in our next issue.) What is a blog? - "A blog is a website where entries are written in chronological order and displayed in reverse chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog... A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs."

Blogs represent a perfect medium for literacy. Authors must read and write as they would on paper, while increasing their comfort with computers and the Internet. Because blogs do not require exceptional technical skills, but still offer the opportunity to "tinker" using Web programming languages for customization, blogs remain equitable for all age groups and both genders, and still provide a medium for learning programmatic skills. (David Huffaker:  http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_6/huffaker/ ) (Take a peek at his information.)

Want some ideas for blogging?? Go to http://awd.cl.uh.edu/blog/.

The following  PDF file has oodles of great uses for blogs. It's a K-12 list, but so many of the concepts apply to us in adult ed! Go to http://futureofmath.misterteacher.com/Blog%20Uses.pdf.

Check out these 59 writing prompts for math teachers to use in a blog or anywhere else: http://futureofmath.misterteacher.com/Writing%20Prompts.pdf . This site also has 38 things you can do with digital images in a classroom at http://futureofmath.misterteacher.com/Digital%20Images%20Uses.pdf. OK, so these are not about blogs, but I thought I would throw in the resource on the same site.

Want to see a couple of blogs? Just follow the black link road:

Blogs are very personal. They can work as diaries for others to see. They engage people of similar interests and are perfect vehicles for building communities. Blogs can be free. Every student can have a blog. Every teacher can have a blog. You don't have to know more than how to click a button to open and use your own blog, following very simple directions. Try it. You will definitely like it.

Blogs can be used for inter-departmental communication, but email is often a better options for that. Go to http://4cornersonline.blogspot.com if you want to see a blog that did not thrive. Out project opted for group emails instead so that people could get immediate notification when info was given. However, go to the top of that page, and click on NEXT BLOG to see several samples. All of those are created in Google.

Explore blogging, and enjoy it for what if can give your students. There are blogs out there that have created business and other major outcomes, but they can stay very simple, as simple as a journal.

To create your own blog, go to Google. You will see a number of links on the top left corner, followed by a down-arrow. Click on that arrow if you need, and select BLOGGER. Follow the options you are given, exploring and experimenting. When you are ready, follow the three simple steps in the right hand column. After you create your own blog, have your students start their own. Have blogs set up so that students will each respond to a prompt, and idea, news, a picture, whatever you like.

Hope you enjoy this Web 2.0 tool!

Hybrid Instruction for Your Professional Health

We still have "seats" in our Using Technology with Adult Learners session, which will start this next Monday (7/30-8/5). The session is free to AEFLA-supported programs and will offer PD points for participation. I am negotiating one graduate-credit hour from Adams State for anyone completing the six sessions. Details follow, as taken from the course syllabus. (Check the two preceding Tech Beat issues for details on this project.) You will have three hours of participation. Except for the half-hour phone conference that we will schedule together, when you participate is up to you. No firm schedules in online learning!

Reading (1 hour)

Activity (.5 hour)

Open a Google account. Create and share a document with a colleague under the Shared Documents area, following instructions given.

Online Discussion Forum Participation (1 hour):

Prompt: Based on your reading, activities, and experience, provide a response to the questions listed. Return at least twice during the week to thoughtfully respond to comments made by your colleagues. Be sure to reference your reading material to support your views.

Web Conference (0.5 hour): GotoMeeting information will be sent to your email address with instructions on how to join the online meeting and what number to call to join the conversation. You will pay your regular long-distance charge for this call. You may call as individuals or as a program if you have a good phone pod. You will need Internet connectivity. If in a group, I suggest having only one computer online connected to an LCD projector for all to see.

Please contact leecy@coloradoadulted.org to sign up and receive instructions for entering our Classroom Management System where all course content and discussion forums reside.

Internet Phone Service

Skype, http://www.skype.com/, is one of several phone services available online. I have used it with great success. For an incredibly low yearly fee of $29.95, you can call anyone in the US or Canada at no additional cost. International calls are as low as 2.1 cents a minute. I have a cheap little camera on my computer ($50 or less), which lets anyone I connect with to see me. If the other person has a camera, I can also have full video contact. No need for expensive distance ed cameras for conferencing or tutoring! Get those head phones on and call someone. You may call any number anywhere even if the person does not have Skype. They will answer on their own phone where you will be on your computer. You can also get local numbers for foreign countries so that your foreign friends can call you with a local number. Outstanding.

Please send me your ideas for future issues!

CONTACT ME: leecy@coloradoadulted.org