Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies/Introduction

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Introduction and Historical Background Information: What is Web 2.0? What does emerging technologies mean?[edit]

Web 2.0 and Participatory E-Learning[edit]

Web 2.0 is a metaphor that implies a paradigm shift in the manner by which web technology is used. Web 2.0 refers to the "read - write Web"; that is, users can not only read what is on the Web, but can also contribute to its contents. In December 2006, Time Magazine named “you” as the person of the year. Web 2.0 (also called the Read-Write Web) empowers learners to generate ideas and comments online (active learning) rather than simply reading or browsing someone else’s comments (passive learning). In effect, instead of passive consumption-based learning, we live in a participatory age where learners have a voice and potentially some degree of ownership over their own learning. Here at the start of the twenty-first century, emerging technologies – such as online photo albums, blogs, wikis, podcasts, ebooks, YouTube videos, massive multiplayer online games, simulations, virtual worlds, and wireless and mobile computing – are generating waves of new opportunities in higher education, K-12 schools, corporate training, and other learning environments.

Learners are immersed in an increasingly digital world, and we need to understand the educational implications of this shift. Many [WHO?] are suggesting today's learners want richer and more engaging learning experiences but the evidence to support these claims is sketchy at best. Instructors across educational sectors are exploring and sharing innovative ways to use technology to foster interaction, collaboration, and increased excitement for learning. Unfortunately, as any high school student will tell you, this is far less common than most would hope. [I am uncomfortable making this claim without evidence). In response, it is time to take advantage of the new participatory learning culture where learners build, tinker with, explore, share, and collaborate with others online. It is also time to exploit free and open educational resources, opencourseware, learning portals, and open source software across educational sectors and income levels.

This wikibook, therefore, will be a journey into the learning technologies (i.e., nature), pedagogical opportunities (i.e., nurture), and the people, societies, and cultures where this is happening now! In fact, this wikibook got its start in a course on Web 2.0 and Participatory e-learning taught by Professor Curt Bonk at Indiana University in Bloomington. Students from Indiana University as well as Indiana State University, Beijing Normal University in China, the Open University of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, and National Chiao Tung University in Hsinchu, Taiwan were among the initial participants. We invite anyone else around the planet who is interested in this topic to contribute to this wikibook on "The Web 2.0 and Emerging Technologies (The WELT).

Some people are interested in how Web 2.0 relates to e-learning. Web 2.0 technology activates the learner. These are tools for learning and a part of e-learning. They do not necessarily equate with e-learning. But we need all such tools in the learning arsenal! There are so many choices and opportunities today. In effect, Web 2.0 personalizes the learning and allows for more voices to be heard.

As Charles Wedemeyer (1981) at the University of Wisconsin noted decades ago, we have entered an age when eyeball-to-eyeball learning is no longer necessary. In a June 2001 lecture, Michael Moore notes that:

"Since the invention of distance education in the 19th century, their core mission was to open access to those who are denied opportunity in the conventional system. Back in 1970, when I went to the United States to work with Charles Wedemeyer —who is the father of all that we are doing, and I hope you've read enough of the literature to recognise his name—, he had in the office, on the wall of his office, a picture of a little boy in rags; he was a Russian serf boy, and he was looking through the door to the very nicely dressed children inside the classroom —they were wealthy children, they were having an education. The little boy was at the door looking in. When he wrote his book, Charles Wedemeyer called his book Learning at the Backdoor, and that kind of captures the emotion that the early distance educators had —that they were providing opportunity to people who were otherwise denied opportunity." (Moore, 2001; see [[1]])

While distance education opportunities continue to increase, Moore worries that emerging technologies, especially online ones, have widened the digital divide instead of reducing it, since access to the Internet is, of course, required. It would be interesting to get Wedemeyer's perspective on this. As people like Wedemeyer would have hoped, there are many options to "eyeball-to-eyeball" learning today including videoconferencing, blended learning, fully online learning, etc. With each of these delivery systems, come options for instructors as well as learners. The right mixing or balancing grants learners more choice and self-determination in their own learning. When done thoughtfully, effective online instructors do not simply teach but moderate, coach, and assist in the learning process. It is a time for empowering learners!

As such we should foster situations with Web 2.0 wherein learners contribute to their own learning. You can do this by creating and publishing a cross-cultural Wikibook on Web 2.0 technology as we have done here. You can do this through anchoring instruction in videos found in YouTube, TeacherTube, Splashcast, CurrentTV, BBC News and World Reports, CNN Videos, etc., as well as having your students create their own YouTube and other online videos. Of course, you can also do this by having blog on their experiences in a course and then share those blogs or comment on each others' ideas. And they might even create a few class podcasts or vodcasts related to topics in the course. There are myriad possibilities.

We have enough experience with Internet-based learning to know that there are many ways for learners to learn collaboratively with others as well as in more solitary pursuits. There are countless electronic collaborators (Bonk & Kim, 1998) in one's learning journeys; Web 2.0 has simply made that more evident and exploitable. The chapters in this wikibook, The WELT, are intended as a compendium of ideas, stories, examples, and cases wherein educational technology is making a difference in the life's of learners around the world. We hope you enjoy it!


Bonk, C. J., & King, K. S. (Eds.). (1998). Electronic collaborators: Learner-centered technologies for literacy, apprenticeship, and discourse. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum

Moore, M. G. (2001, June 6). Distance education in the United States: The state of the art. Series of lectures on the educational use of ICT and virtual education. Retrieved December 3, 2007, from [[2]]

Wedemeyer, C. A. (1981). Learning at the back door: Reflections on non-traditional learning in the lifespan. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.


Web 2.0 has been a hot topic since 2005. It was originally presented by O’Reilly Media, a well-known media company publishing books and websites. And it's a phrase that refers to a new generation of web-based communities and hosted services such as social networking sites, wiki, communication tools, and folksonomies. These websites give web users an extensive space to reveal themselves such as sharing their experiences, views, opinions and interests as well as web users take advantage of web application technologies while they surf the web.

What is Web 2.0?

Richard MacManus (year) posted his definition of web2.0 as read-write web that, “Well I prefer the succinct "The Web as Platform", because I can then fill in the blanks depending on who I'm talking to. For corporate people, the Web is a platform for business. For marketers, the Web is a platform for communications. For journalists, the Web is a platform for new media. For geeks, the Web is a platform for software development. And so on.”(p. x)

Web 2.0 is the network as platform, spanning all connected devices. Web 2.0 applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of that platform: delivering software as a continually-updated service that gets better the more people use it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others, creating network effects through an "architecture of participation," and going beyond the page metaphor of Web 1.0 to deliver rich user experiences (O’Reilly, 2005).

The Characteristics of Web2.0

The web2.0 is a revolutionary phenomenon. I list some of the most basic characteristics of the websites using the web2.0 concept:

• The read/write web.

• The web as a platform.

• Rich user experiences.

• Data as the driving force.

• An architecture of participation.

• Harnessing collective intelligence.

• A rich, interactive, user-friendly interface.

• Leveraging of popular trends, including blogging, social tagging, wikis, and peer-to- peer sharing.

• Inclusion of emerging web technologies like RSS, AJAX, APIs(and accompanying mashups),Ruby on Rails and others.

• Open source or sharable/editable frameworks in the form of user-oriented “create your own” APIs.

The Technologies of web 2.0

Web2.0 is not a new network technology but a network application. The technology infrastructure of Web 2.0 is complex and evolving. It includes the use of content syndication, server software, standards-based browsers that have extensions and plugins, client applications, and messaging protocols. All these advanced technology provides Web 2.0 with dissemination, creation, and information storage capability. There are a number of major techniques that Web 2.0 website uses. Some of them include:

• CSS, semantically valid XHTML markup, and Microformats.

• Significant and clean URLs.

• Aggregation of RSS/ATOM data.

• Syndication of data in RSS/ATOM.

• REST or XML Webservice APIs.

• Some social networking aspects.

• Support posting to a weblog

The Techniques Services of web 2.0

• Mashups

• Tagging

• Tag clouds

• Folksonomy

• Blogging

• Wikis

Popular Examples of Web 2.0 Based Websites

Web2.0 websites are build on participatory web based applications focusing basically on user experience and collaboration. Here are some websites utilizing the web2.0 technologies:

1. YouTube –[3]

The concept of YouTube is very simple.It allows the users to share their videos with entire world and upload others.

2. Wikipedia –[4]

The most famous online encyclopedia wherein the users contribute by writing the articles, definitions, etc. It is completely edited and maintained by the users.

3. MySpace – [5]

This website allows users to create their own profile, blog, friend list and personal homepage adding whatever you want on it (text, images, videos, links, etc)

4. Flickr – [6]

This website allows users to upload their photographs and share it with anyone and everyone.

5. Facebook – [7]

Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. People use Facebook to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.


O’Reilly, Tim.“What is Web 2.0? Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software.” Everything Tim: tim.oreilly.com. 30 Sept. 2005. 25 Jan. 2006 .

O’Reilly, Tim.“Web 2.0: Compact Definition? ”O'Reilly Radar. 01 Oct. 2005. 03 Mar. 2006 .