Monday, March 14, 2011

Web 2.0: A Social Revolution

Do you post to friends' walls on Facebook?
Do you tweet using Twitter?
Do you post to a blog?
Have you commented on someone else's blog?
Have you collaborated using a GoogleDoc or a Wiki?
Have you interacted with others using TodaysMeet, or Wallwisher?

If so, you are using a Web 2.0 tool.

According to Wikipedia, a Web 2.0 tool is web application that facilitates participatory information sharinginteroperabilityuser-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web.

Nowadays, what is clear is that the Web is no longer 'read-only' technology.  People have a read and write relationship with others where they can share perspectives, contribute ideas and collaborate to build information. Facebook, MySpace and personal blogs make it very easy for people to publish text, images, audio and video, to be shared privately within small networks or with the general public.  People who publish content do so with the intention of having others view, comment and collaborate with them.  The connections that people are able to create is what truly makes Web 2.0 so powerful.

With the increase in networked learning come some uneasily answered questions.  How do people find one another with whom they can learn? How do people make themselves findable by others? How does one choose who to interact with? What roles do one another play in a virtual sharing and collaborative process of learning?

Most of our students use this technology to stay connected with friends and family who they already see in person or have spent significant time with in the past.  Through the use of online and mobile technology their connections remain mainly 'friendship-based'.  There are however, some students who are using the technology to connect and collaborate with others around a specific interest.  Some of the people they connect with online are people they know in person, others are people they do not yet know offline.  We must acknowledge that through these networked interactions, students are learning, sharing and contributing to a body of knowledge.
According to Will Richardson,
"learning - formal or informal - is no longer restricted to a particular place at a particular time. Individuals can learn anytime, anywhere, as long as they have access to the Web and, in turn, to other people with whom they can form groups. Learning is creative and collaborative, cross-cultural and conspicuous, and products are shared widely for others to learn with and from."
Becoming an online networked learner requires much more than searching for people and filtering information. The people in our learning networks must include more than just people who share similar views as we do.  We must embrace diversity in the connections that we establish to include people with different ideas who are willing to challenge our opinions and philosophies.  It is through these types of connections that we become able to engage in debate and dialogue.

Think of the times when you read someone's blog or tweet and it sparked a new thought and a desire to respond.  You can respond in many different ways.  You could contribute a comment to the blog, write your own blog post in response to what you've read, reply with a tweet, email the person directly, create a video response or even pick up the phone. How does one choose the method through which to respond? How does one disagree or challenge an idea in a respectful manner that honors the other person's contributions?

These are the kinds of situations that our students find themselves in almost daily and undoubtedly will find themselves in throughout their personal and professional lives.  In education, we frequently refer to the importance of preparing our students with the skills they will need to be successful in the future.  With the growth of social networking by working professionals, it is undeniable that students need to become online networked learners and learn how to interact appropriately in virtual environments.

Before we can bring this literacy to students so they can take advantage of the learning opportunities that social networking offers, we must become networked learners ourselves.  It is crucial that we model for students our online connections and demonstrate to them how powerful these interactions are in our own learning.  Most educators have not received training in how to use social networking.  Consequently, the idea of becoming an online networked learner comes with much hesitancy.  For those who are embracing the social revolution, most are still experimenting with how best to apply social networking to their own learning and current practice.

Pockets of innovative educators who are using social networking to support learning are finding the following:

  • it provides access to a wealth of primary sources of information
  • it provides access to multimedia and interactive learning resources
  • learners can share knowledge, skills and expertise with people all over the world
  • interest-based learning networks can form quickly and easily
  • learning can happen anywhere and anytime
  • it enables many people to engage in discussion
  • it gives a voice to individuals who are less likely to contribute in person

Recently, Global TV's Sophie Lui (@sophielui) visited Delta Secondary where she captured Ms. J. Heiden's  (@jenheiden) Communications students responding to comments made on their class blog, Communications at DSS by their counterparts in Merritt, BC.   She also witnessed Ms. S. Motohashi's (@samotohashi) Science students interacting with each other before and after demonstrations using Twiducate, an educational social networking site.

These are just two examples of innovative teaching and learning practices supported by the use of social networking.  Congratulations to both Ms. Heiden and Ms. Motohashi on embracing the use of Web 2.0 tools and leading us forward in the social revolution!


  1. Wonderful post!

    Two things strike me: we "publish with the intention of having others view, comment, and collaborate" and "we must become networked learners, ourselves." When I started teaching, the internet was barely three years old, but I remember thinking: "If I don't close my classroom door, it's because I want other people to hear what's going on (and tell me it's too loud, or that they walked by and saw so&so napping);" and I promised that I'd always try to be a "with-it" teacher. Technology reminds me that if I'm going to guide 21st century learners, I'd better know what it means to learn, myself...and learning means keeping that door open, doesn't it? (Horrible extension of that metaphor, sorry!)

    Congratulations again on the Global TV coverage!


  2. i agree that we should do more with computers. It allows us to communicate with our fellow students and express what we wanna say instead of raising our hand and talking infront of the class. It gives us information on the spot if needed which is much quicker than a normal book.

  3. i agree with brett's comment

  4. i agree with you on the fact that we should use social media to enhance our learning experience, but what hits me as strange is the part about how the teachers should teach us about all of the learning opportunities because we as students already know our way around blogs and other online resources for learning not only the subjects we have in school but also many skills that we will use in the real world and many times its the student teaching the teacher how to use those resources.

  5. I agree with you that social media is a good way to teach, although it is very distracting. Many kids are caught off task, including me. I do find it much easier to complete my work when technology is involved though. I will always have access to the internet, and I am able to communicate with friends online if i need any help.

  6. Hi Mr. Akune,
    I like your post about social media and I agree with you. Now days, the internet is almost an addiction, where almost every teenagers spent hours in front of a computer, to check their facebook or twitter accounts. The internet is also a great way to connect with people all over the world where they share your ideas and thoughts. I think the whole social media idea is a great idea, especially to get all the attentions from the students and we should continue using the new technology to learn. My generation grew up with the internet, which makes it very easy to use this new technology.

  7. Yes I agree.Its a new way of teaching and it helps kids learn in a different way.It’s a lot more fun than putting up your hand and having to wait to stay your idea.Using blogs you can see everyone’s idea.Its also includes everyone in the class and not just a few stundent who put there hand up.I think this is a great idea for our schools. rajan singh

  8. I agree that technolongy help to keep people together also make to new friends too.An also to keep on top of your school work and to find out what is going on in the world. Phil Mclean

  9. I agree. It’s a better way of learning and it increases our work interest. We really interested about using technology to work on some work. When we using technology, we can know more things than just learning in the class.

  10. Great post!
    I was just thinking the same things the other day... Educators and schools need to keep up or risk becoming irrelevant. And we need to have a few things in place to help reach that critical mass....reliable technology, wifi, revised social media/personal devices policies, opportunities within a school for people to share/teach/learn how to use tech and online resources, etc. School shouldn't just be about memorizing information and handwriting notes from a text...I guess we get caught in the middle of preparing students for university/college vs giving them opportunities to learn and practice skills they will use the rest of their lives.

  11. Your post has inspired me to get back into blogging!

    I thought about resurrecting my old education blog, but decided to start fresh on wordpress (especially since there's an app for publishing from my phone!)