saudixpat’s Weblog

December 6, 2008

Reflections on Web 2.0

Filed under: Uncategorized — Expat in Saudi @ 6:25 pm

Here it is the end of the semester, the course is almost done and I am faced with reflecting on my journey through Web 2.0. Whew! First off, I found out what Web 2.0 really meant and how it got its name.

This is Web 2.0

Once that was out of the way, it was off to learn about Web 2.0 apps – blog sites, such as blogger.com, edublogger, and wordpress; photosharing sites such as photobucket, flickr, and picasa; video sharing sites, along the lines of youtube, teachertube, and google video; social bookmarking sites such as del.icio.us, furl, and diigo; and finally podcasting sites such as podbean and podomatic.

After that there was a break – a detour really – to virtual library sites. These were really interesting to me, although I am not a librarian (although one day I would love to be one and actually did work at the Patrick Power Library while I was a visiting student at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, N.S.). That exploration took me back to my old high school’s library web site and showed me that a lot has changed in the school library since I was a student!

Once the detour was over, it was back to examining Web 2.0 apps again. Wikis were on the menu, with Wikipedia and Wikispaces looming large (I am encouraging my school to get mediawiki, which will allow us to run our own inhouse wiki that is secure and non-accessible to the outside world. Being in Saudi that is a concern. It was funny, because my class also became associated with the Flat Classroom Project, which is based on wikispaces and ning. Little did I know the connection would be there!

From there the journey led to multimedia sharing sites; specifically voicethread, which I really like. So much so, in fact, that I am going to be presenting on it to our staff in the new year. Moving on from that, there was a consideration on the benefits of using Facebook as an educational resource; however, that didn’t get too far. From there it was an examiation of RSS feeds and RSS aggregators, such as Feedreader and Bloglines, as well as another ubiquitous Google product, Google Reader. As can be seen, the semester recap covers a lot of web territory. What have I learned, looking back?

First off, to paraphrase Shakespeare, there are more things on the web than were dreamt of in my philosophy. While I knew there were a lot of applications being developed for online use, I had no idea that there were so many that had practical application to teaching. Wikipedia, for instance, is not the only wiki in town and the others are available for use with classes, as I found out. The same goes for blogs. I am currently planning on revamping my curriculum in my website design and management course to incorporate wikis and blogs – wikis to build a knowledge base and blogs to discuss problems and propose solutions to them.

For my colleagues, I am hoping to turn them on to voicethread, as I mentioned earlier. It is such a ‘cool’ and powerful tool that I can see students really getting into using it and sharing their viewpoints. As all voices can be heard, I think that it will empower those voices that aren’t as loud if involved in a voice discussion in the classroom.

Another resolution I have made is to share more of my life with family back home using flickr, or possibly picasa, as a 4×4 group I belong to uses that by default and so it might be easier to share photos with more groups to use picasa. Besides this, I really enjoyed the virtual library exploration in the course. It has inspired me, as I mentioned last post, to make changes to the portal of our school library. Currently it is a web page with a list of links broken down into Elementary and Middle/High School. There are no graphics and it is pretty bare except for the banner (which is a graphic of a sand dune that I created from a photo I took). The new site will be amazingly different and I think that the students will love it I will post about student reactions once I get the sites up in January. Promise!

Overall, I really enjoyed the course and what I learned from it. It is not only what I learned abou Web 2.0, but what I learned from my classmates about how they are using Web 2.0 and how they perceive it. Some of their ideas and resources, such as the Storybutter site created by one of my fellow students in the course.

I think the course has made me more willing to go out and explore and try new technologies as they emerge and attempt to work them into my classroom activities with students. I think it has also made me want to seek out what others are doing with the apps that they have found and how they are putting them to use. I certainly hope that others in the course will continue with their blogs and keep everybody posted on how they are getting on in the Web 2.0 world.

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5 Comments »

  1. Hi Bruce,
    I know you’ve had some personal stuff getting in the way of the course so I’m so glad you’ve made it and in fine style. I’m off to try voicethreads with my book group tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how it goes with a group of students and not just on my own.

    Good idea about using your new-found web 2.0 knowledge to stay connected with family back home. I’m sure they’ll really appreciate it.

    Best of luck putting web 2.0 into action in your school and in your future learning endeavors.

    Jo-Anne

    Comment by Jo-Anne — December 7, 2008 @ 10:39 pm | Reply

  2. I also think this course has motivated me to keep looking for new ways to use technology in the classroom. I also think I need to keep looking and for more 2.0 tools and staying up to date on everything.

    I enjoyed reading your posts and perspectives each week, Bruce.

    Have a great holiday and best wished in the New Year.

    Comment by Danielle — December 8, 2008 @ 7:16 am | Reply

  3. *wished* I mean wishes 🙂

    Comment by Danielle — December 8, 2008 @ 7:16 am | Reply

  4. Thanks, Bruce. I’m glad you found so many things that you will be able to incorporate into your school now. Your comments about virtual school libraries are interesting–I have debated whether to keep that topic in or replace it with something else (like Trailfire or animoto)…but I think it is a useful topic because it allows us all (even if you’re not a teacher-librarian) to think about how to pull some of these things together into a site that is useful for teachers, students, and parents….but still, it is something I will continue to think about!

    Joanne

    Comment by Joanne de Groot — December 9, 2008 @ 10:25 pm | Reply

  5. Even though I a a non-librarian, I think it is worth keeping in. Libraries have changed so much from in the past that it is a good way of demonstrating just exactly what the functions of a library are today. It seems that libraries do so much more then when I was a student or a kid LOL.

    One thing I really noticed is the new designs of libraries also. For instance, the new UVIC library as social pods set up, along with a whole host of new features in their new wing. Their research center has also been upgraded (check it out at http://www.uvc.ca/torch and then current issue – it is in the new buildings story).

    Just my 2 cents, or 2 halalas as they have here in Saudi!

    Comment by sibertiger — December 10, 2008 @ 7:03 am | Reply


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