In chapter 31 of Introduction to Instructional Design and Technology, (Reiser and Dempsey, 3rd edition), author Terry Anderson rounds up the highlights of Web 2.0, and summarizes the issues around integration of these free, public, and social tools into education.
There are two applications I find most interesting of all that we’ve explored.
At least one wiki has succeeded in the way wikis have been hyped –Wikipedia. This flawed, overflowing project is a perfect example of an enterprise that “allow(s) users to add value to teamwork through their comments additions, edits, or deletions of erroneous content.” (p. 300)
I'll stipulate what isn’t right about Wikipedia. No verification of accuracy. So the site’s reliability overall may be very high, but it can be unreliable in any specific example. Unfortunately, what anyone needs from an encyclopedic resource is accuracy in the specific. Traditional encyclopedias also suffered from bias and errors and weren’t subject to correction, except with a slip of paper tossed in at the end before packaging --“errata”. Web 2.0 wikis offer an avenue to correct inaccuracy – user editing and instant publication of corrections.
With edits tracked over time, errors can be understood in context. Examples of errors installed for nefarious purposes give one pause about wikis, but also about the veracity of information from any source.
As someone with slight obsessive compulsive tendencies, I’m still hopeful about the ability to organize everything, or at least a subsection of everything. The more who can pitch in, the better. Further development of these "aggregated and collective information” (p. 300) might include specialized sites like WikiArt or Local Wiki. In these cases, the selective nature of wikis becomes more apparent. Neither site is exhaustive, and a complete resource would need to be very narrowly focused or truly vast to please the perfectionists among us (ok me).
In this course, we’re posting our assignment responses on a blog, and using them as a basis for interaction. They are notable for being personal, published and accessible to all. Blogs have come and gone and been declared dead, and have worked their way into our online lives so completely they are nearly invisible.
Anderson says “Privacy issues likely present the most disruptive challenges to educational use of Web 2.0 tools” (p. 303). The author notes the issues I faced initially with homework on a blog: wanting to put my best foot forward, not wanting to publish half-baked projects to live in the “the very long ‘memory’ of Web search engines”.
I got over my fears. The public quality of blogs is largely illusory- you have to be dragged or cajoled into looking at them, like vacation photos.
This fear of putting a bad foot forward is balanced by the statement earlier that “(Web 2.0) … not only potentially opens classrooms, but also opens professional practice to student view.” (p.300). It’s this possible transition to practical application in the world of work that should encourage students to embrace fully the possibilities of connection.
This bridge to practical applications is further underlined in the statement “Designers will be challenged to create activities and context in which learners develop, customize, and effectively use their own personal learning environments (PLEs) “ (p. 305). It would take a very sophisticated learner to design their own learning environment, but that seems to be where we are heading.
Imagine the difficulties early web coders faced in the 1990s, compared to the publish-with-a-button functionality of some blogging platforms today (in 20 short years). Now, make the same leap from MOOCs and training videos today to a fully plug-and-play PLE platform in 2029. I think it’s possible. Imagine a user making choices on a webform 'I want to learn X, Y, and Z over a time period of X months.'
Press button to begin learning.