Friday, September 19, 2008

What’s All the Buzz About Web 2.0?

We have been talking a lot recently about Web 2.0 tools. There are many new classes being offered that focus on Web 2.0 tools. Why? What's the big deal?

Web 2.0 tools are web based tools that allow users to both read the content AND participate in the creation of the content. For this reason, they are often referred to as the Read/Write Web. These are powerful tools that allow users to author to a truly global audience, receive feedback from the public, collaborate with colleagues without regard for time or space, and access works in progress from anywhere they have an Internet connection. In addition, many Web 2.0 tools offer up to the moment information on a variety of topics.

For all of these reasons, Web 2.0 tools have an important impact on education. They allow teachers to collaborate with other teachers around the world. They allow teachers to quickly and easily collect information that is relevant to their classroom. They allow students to write in meaningful ways and share their work with audiences other than just the teacher.

While these tools are incredibly powerful and teach students how to be digitally literate, they are not without their challenges. Protecting our students from spam, advertising, and online strangers is a reality that we must consider. Finding accurate information among throngs of information is another challenge for students (not to mention us.) For more information about this, I highly recommend reading The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki or Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. We must TEACH our students how to function in a society that is inundated with information. We must redefine what literacy means to include accessing information, evaluating information, and using social networks responsibly and efficiently to deliver and receive information.

To begin your foray into Web 2.0 tools, here are some great places to start:

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