Thursday, October 18, 2007

Web 2.0 at UML: A Conversation/Dinner

I am delighted to join you for dinner and a conversation about how Web 2.0 is transforming higher education and the ways in which it may enable and enhance engagement among students and faculty members pursuing access to quality learning at UMass Lowell.
Whenever possible, I am boycotting PowerPoint as a presentation tool because of the limited potential for engagement. Instead, I have assembled some talking topics and many links to resources in this comment-enabled blog which I hope will serve as a continuing resource and forum for exchange of ideas.

With many thanks to my good friend and wonderful colleague Jacquie Moloney, and my great new friends Sadaf Charity and Charmaine Hickey! -ray

The Web Is Us/ing Us

Michael Wesch, professor at Kansas State University, teaches media ecology and cultural anthropology. In his simple video Wesch gives us a perspective of how the Web is changing - how 2.0 applications are making the 'net interactive, engaging and enabling. These ever-changing applications are changing the way we teach and learn.

As with all of the postings, click on the title to access the relevant site.

Web 2.0?

Originating in a conference between O'Reilly Publishers and MediaLive International, the term was coined in 2004 to described a whole new class of interactive applications that emerged after the dot-com bubble burst in 2001. Difficult to defing, and always evolving, Web 2.0 has been said to be in "Perpetual Beta."

New applications are released daily - CNet's Web 2.0 Top 100 2007.

RSS - Engine of Web 2.0 Syndication

RSS stands for really simple syndication (or rich site summary). It is the tool that enables instant sharing, notification and syndication of new and / or updated materials. An RSS feed is an xml file on the web that briefly describes updates to such elements as blogs, podcasts and wikis.
RSS feeds from three blogs are displayed in the right column ->
Google's FeedBurner is an advanced RSS generator.
Subscribe to feeds via browser or any of many aggregators.

The Big 3 of Web 2.0 - #1 Blogs

Blog = weB + LOG Blogs are web pages that are easily updated with updates displayed in reverse chronological order. Blogs are effective ways to engage students (who have used blogs for years in MySpace and FaceBook) in journaling, sharing creative work, and filtering. Best practices and examples of blogs in education:

Google ranking for a couple of Ray's blogs:

The Big 3 of Web 2.0 - #2 Podcasting

Podcasting is revolutionizing the media. Initially growing out of audio blogs - podcasts have evolved over the past four years to become enhanced podcasting with graphics, chapters, and video! Disseminated via RSS updates, the technology does not require an iPod - in fact many listen/view podcasts on their desktop and laptop computers. Software options for creating multi-media podcasts include ToolFactory for PC users and ProfCast for Mac users.

The Big 3 of Web 2.0 - #3 Wiki

Wiki in Hawaiian means "quick" - and it is that! Wiki enables online collaborative editing and document creation. Not only may multiple participants collaborate on a document, but a copy is kept of each revision of the document. Wikipedia is the largest and best known wiki - drawing on the collective intelligence of the internet to inform and engage. Excellent wiki services are available including PB Wiki (peanut butter wiki), Wikispaces. Examples of applications:

Another great wiki tool is Wet Paint!

Check out the new Online and Blended Learning Wet Paint site and add some resources or comments!

Web Conferencing

Web conferencing software enables synchronous and recorded audo / video sessions with shared whiteboard, shared desktop applications (such as excel), adjusting for the bandwidth of the participants. Elluminate's free V-Room enables three-way conferencing - ideal for electronic office hours and "virtual chalk talks."

Online Photo, Bookmark, Data Sharing and Tagging

There are many Web 2.0 applications that involve sharing files, photos, bookmarks, audio -- or even just storing those files as a backup in case your computer or website crashes. Some of these sites also allow folksonomy (collaborative tagging).

  • X-Drive - 5 gB storage free - allows sharing - requires AOL IM logon
  • Orbitfiles - 6 gB storage free - allows sharing - movies, mp3s, any data
  • Flickr - store and display photos - tag photos for sharing and join topical photo groups
  • - store and share bookmarks - great for web collections - tag web pages

There are many more examples of this type of Web 2.0 application!

Social Networking Sites

There are many different social networking sites. These sites enable people to share information about themselves, make connections to others online, and join in groups. Three of the largest serve very different groups:

  • MySpace - this is used by teenagers - paricularly popular in middle and high school
  • Facebook - this is most popular among older teens, twenties, etc. - more than 95% of college students are in Facebook!
  • LinkedIn - this is most popular in the business, consulting and professional community

In remarkable ways these communities are replacing (or supplementing) face-to-face communities.

All atwitter

Twitter is not very easy to define. Well, actually, it is a kind of text messaging. Simple, in that regard. But, it moves so fast, using so many modes, that it seems all atwitter!

  • Mobile Texts
  • Instant Messages
  • Desktop Apps
  • Web Timeline

It's social networking - messages flitting from one place to another.... twitterers communicate in tweets (short text messages).

  • atwit·ter (ə twit′ər)
    in a state of nervous excitement


Mashups are hybrid applications that combine two applications that otherwise would stand separately, such as a database and a map. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Frappr is a very popular social mapping application
  • SiteMeter autocreates a map of locations visiting a web page - such as this one of visitors in the past day to the Online Learning Update blog.

There are many ways that we might use these in classes or to make meaning out of multiple sets of data.

To combine a couple of Web 2.0 applications - check out this Flickr of Images tagged as Mashups !

Pedagogical Considerations

As with all online and blended learning, the preferred pedagogical approach is to encourage participation of learners in active learning; interaction; and engagement with the instructor, learning materials, and fellow learners.

Intellectual Property Rights in a Web 2.0 World

With new content created every split second and the ability to copy everything online in an instant, does copyright mean anything anymore? To those who use Creative Commons, it does.

The Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive collects copies of online materials - billions (85) of Web pages - and keeps them neatly archived by year and month. This is a grand resource for many purposes - not the least of which is to revive "dead" links. The Internet Archive also will serve up audio for podcasts and other applications!

The next BIG (little) thing!

Web 2.0 has commonly been described as being in a state of perpetual beta - one might ask When Will We Ever Get there? The answer, of course, is that we are there and we will never get there.

Web 2.0 continues to evolve and expand. Along the way there are developments that lift us to a new level - the iPhone and Touch iPod for example. It appears that these platforms have helped us to pass the barrier to mobile learning (M-Learning or Handheld Learning). Check out this tour of the Colorado Tech online learning portal via an iPhone:

Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVE) have also passed a threshold with the advent of Second Life. In Higher Ed in Second Life: Fall 2007 you can glimpse the future of simulations and virtual interactions. And, Second Life, is only one of some three dozen active MUVEs - and speculation is rampant that Google is about to release the Metaverse "My World" - a MUVE / social networking site with avatars roaming Google Earth!

This reminds us of words attributed to Hericlitus, in about 500 B.C.

Hericlitus by Johannes Moreelse
"the only thing constant is change itself"

A Postscript ... and a beginning - to be continued

Michael Wesch and his Cultural Anthropology students just released another video last week, it is a class project from the spring 2007 term. I think it contains some things we might want to talk about:
A Vision of Students Today .

I hope this will be a springboard to some continuing Conversations.