Association for Learning Technology Online Newsletter
Issue 15 January 2009   Friday, January 30, 2009

ISSN 1748-3603

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Contents
Feature article
Building a better future – planning and designing innovative, intelligent educational buildings
Conference reviews
Perspectives on learning design – a report on the 3rd International LAMS and Learning Design Conference
FOTE – Future of Technology in Education 2008
Technology reviews
The eBeam – interactive whiteboard and capture system
eXe – e-learning XML editor
Project updates
Developing open content – the POCKET perspective
Web 2.0-style resource discovery comes to libraries – the TILE Project
Reports
ALT research news – transformed for 21st century learning
Technology and learning – a trade association perspective
Commentary launched: Education 2.0? Designing the web for teaching and learning
The Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ascilite) update
ALT news
Events
ALT Journal (ALT-J)
Chief Executive's report
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Privacy policy

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Commentary launched: Education 2.0? Designing the web for teaching and learning
by Richard Noss and Neil Selwyn

This commentary (www.tlrp.org/tel/publications/) is the first from the Technology Enhanced Learning phase of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP-TEL). The phase was launched in 2007, and currently comprises eight interdisciplinary projects with funding of around £12 million. The programme is funded jointly by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. TLRP-TEL aims to produce a series of commentaries throughout the life of Technology Enhanced Learning, which is currently scheduled to last until 2012.

The past five years or so have seen growing excitement within the educational community about Web 2.0 technologies. ‘Web 2.0’ is an umbrella term for a host of recent internet applications such as social networking, wikis, folksonomies, virtual societies, blogging, multiplayer online gaming and ‘mash-ups’. Whilst differing in form and function, all these applications share a common characteristic of supporting internet-based interaction between and within groups, which is why the term ‘social software’ is often used to describe Web 2.0 tools and services.

Web 2.0 marks a distinct break from the internet applications of the 1990s and early 2000s, facilitating ‘interactive’ rather than ‘broadcast’ forms of exchange, in which information is shared ‘many-to-many’ rather than being transmitted from one to many. Web 2.0 applications are built around the appropriation and sharing of content amongst communities of users, resulting in various forms of user-driven communication, collaboration and content creation and recreation. Commentators now talk of a ‘read/write’ web, where users can easily generate their own content as well as consuming content produced by others.

For example, Wikipedia is distinct from the Encyclopaedia Britannica Online because it is an open document that is created, updated, edited and refereed by its readers, thus deriving accuracy and authority from ongoing group discussion and consensus rather than the word of one expert. Similarly, Flickr could be considered as distinct from earlier online applications, such as Ofoto, in that users’ photographs can be made accessible to all and can be commented upon, labelled, categorised and edited by whole communities of users, making it a photograph-sharing rather than photograph-storage application. Given the importance of creation, collaboration and communication to the use of these technologies, educationalists have been quick to point out the potential of Web 2.0 for supporting and enhancing learning.

Yet despite valuable early contributions to the Web 2.0, much of the discussion within the education community has been speculative. This commentary sets out to challenge the confident portrayal of Web 2.0 by many educationalists in terms of an imminent transformation of learning and teaching. Careful thought has therefore been given to how technologists, educators and learners can best shape the fast-changing internet in the near future. It aims to explore how education can change the web, as well as how the web can change education.

The commentary is edited by Neil Selwyn, with contributions from Charles Crook (University of Nottingham), Diane Carr (London Knowledge Lab), Patrick Carmichael, (University of Cambridge) and Richard Noss (LKL/TLRP-TEL).

Richard Noss (Director, TLRP-TEL)
London Knowledge Lab, University of London

Neil Selwyn (Editor)
London Knowledge Lab, University of London


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