Teaching Web 2.0

Over the past months we have posted various tools for teachers who are bringing electronic writing technologies into their classroom, including links for Pedagogy and Games and Computers and Composition. The question remains how to present these effectively without overwhelming the audience that might not already be immersed in emergent technologies? The context a presentation at USC about Web 2.0 technologies that I am giving with Holly Willis, Director of the Institute for Media Literacy at USC.

[Update: Here’s a link to video capture of the CET talk itself. Note: skip the ActiveX add-on in Firefox. You might even get to watch me eat pizza. Ah, technology!]

xmlcss_2a.gifFirst: some resources.

Pageflakes page:
Diigo Slide presentation:
Diigo Bookmarks:

The Pageflakes page consolidates the links, several feeds, videos, and more, all used in the presentation.

The Diggo Slides offer the main links for the talk in the order they were presented, some annotated.

Together these resources can serve as a starter kit for future talks and hopefully as a useful orientation for those considering teaching courses around Web 2.0.

[Thanks to David Parry of Academic Hack for recommending Diigo slides and Pageflakes for a coherent presentation of all the resources, using the very technology we were highlighting.]

What follows are several possible thematic organizations for the great Web 2.0 exchange. I begin with my early choices that ultimately seem less desirable.

The Extremes:

A) The one-item presentation

Focusing on one application certainly helps users to learn the ins and outs of one piece of software. However, in a net landscape where applications all end up in the trash collectors of the Sand People, this orientation’s thoroughness of exploration, hardly gives a sense of this moment in technology.

B) The Great Link Dump:

Give a lectern computer to a Web 2.0 zealot and what do you get? Perhaps its something like the child who wants to show off all his new toys by dumping the bin all over the floor. Certainly this presentation packs a lot of Gee-Whiz and a fair amount of “Get me off of this crazy ride I’ve got work to do.”

So if single-application presentations and great link downloads don’t meet the Web 2.0 objectives, what other structures might? What are organizing tropes that could enable an audience to consider many of these new applications in a coherent context, a frame that helps them keep all these URLs from merely piling up around them? Here are several I’ve considered beginning with the one I chose.

C) Course Management Systems:

This explanation begins with a central claim: the current internet moment is pervaded by many reader/writers producing and sharing much content using various content management systems (CMS). (This idea builds off a paper Juan Gutierrez and I presented last year at III Congreso, entitled “N-Capas Entretenimientos”). The basic idea is that the proliferation of CMS (blogger, youtube, MySpace, Facebook) have enabled both easy syndication and easy scraping. This presentation works well with RSS feeds and bibliographic scrapers, such as Zotero. It’s strength is its emphasis on the way that content can be circulated and repurposed. (See the graphic for more illustration).

D) Tagging:

This moment in Internet developmet is all about tagging. Writers tag their posts. Readers tag content for their bookmarks. Programmers tag content through markup or stylesheets. Content Management Systems tag the input from forms for databases and formatting. These tags are part of the new folksonomic order, while they also characterize the way in which there is content that is organized, formatted, and managed by readers, writers, and software.

E) Social bookmarking: overview and examples.
Social bookmarking is key to fostering the growth of shared research. From Diigo to Citeulike and even including Digg, these tools allow researchers to help individual elements of the seemingly infinite web rise to the surface or better yet rise to the surface with flares visible to those who are particularly interested in them. After reviewing the different tools available, this talk can discuss building networks of researchers, and best-practice tagging principles.

F) Networked Learners:
Following the Web 2.0 ideology, this presentation would promote tools on the basis that they help researchers collaborate and share resources. While this point is implicit in most Web 2.0 talks, this orientation would particularly emphasize using tools in order to enable social connections. It would also have more room for discussion of social networking sites and even virtual worlds, such as Second Life. Of course, the talk can also bring in wikis and their use as collaborative spaces.

Other software could include:

  • Social Bookmarking (and sharing as above)
  • RSS (feeds from other researchers)
  • Google Docs
  • Blogs (with blogrolls and pingbacks/trackbacks).

G) From Browsing to Building:

Another way to orient these talks is to focus on the browser (probably Firefox 2.0 or above) as a research and writing tool. Such a talk could emphasize tricking out a particular browser with plugins, such as zotero, diigo toolbars, and google notebook. The browser then becomes the ultimate tool belt.

H) Gathering RSS:

As with C, this talk requires a brief introduction to RSS feeds. One of the more comprehensive explanations can be found here on Robin Good. After the initial characterization, the talk can outlay various ways of funneling RSS feeds (from blogs and even news searchers) to readers, such as Bloglines. Then, we could move to publishing feeds in the sidebars of blogs (or even in aggregating blogs). Widget-based home pages, such as netvibes, iGoogle, and Pageflakes offer alternatives, particularly with Pageflakes’ reader mode.

This focus is more about the student/teacher as researcher, collecting their resources in a central locations or funneling the web to them.

I) The blog as portal:

Unlike the RSS talk, which might focus on collecting resources for yourself, this talk focuses on aggregating web content on your blog for yourself and others. Such a strategy helps researchers to build resources for themselves (akin to Pageflakes and netvibes) with the added bonus of a more accessible layout.
Creating a blog as a means of accessing collected content

This theme would focus on again helping students and teachers to channel what they find to a central location for others to see, share, and comment on. The course I taught last Spring at USC followed this blog orientation as most of our new applications could be streamed to our blogs.

Web guru Keith Gustafson also mentions:

J) Web-based software
The shift from software living on your computer to software living online is one of the most fundamental changes in our orientation toward our computers. Even programs that live on your browser, such as Zotero, are web-centered. As more web-based word processors and other writingware proliferate, our hard drives may be mere archies or the place we stash the ice cream we don’t want anyone else to eat. After this orientation, the talk can move on to the may examples of webware.
That’s all the ways I have now. What are other ways you’ve considered presenting this information? What seems best?

7 Responses to “Teaching Web 2.0”

  1. 1 Trevor

    Great aproach to teaching Web 2.0. Consider adding the COinS wordpress plugin to your blog and you could further demonstrate these connections from this very page.

    See http://www.zotero.org/blog/making-wordpress-content-available-to-zotero/

  2. 2 Mark Marino

    Thanks, Trevor, And I know that zotero was one of the star performers at the talk and the library staff in attendance are going to be looking much more deeply into zotero in the future.

  3. 3 Sarah

    I have come across Pageflakes a couple of times now - just checked it out again after reading your blog post. I have been thinking about using it at my school. What are your thoughts on that? Do you know if the service is for free? I can’t seem to find any info on that.


  4. 4 Mark Marino


    Pageflakes is currently free, as were all the Web 2.0 technologies we were presenting. Now how long they remain free is a question about Web 3.0. There seems to be some precedent for keeping a free version and introducing a for-pay “professional” or subscription version.

    For now, though, Pageflakes is free. How were you going to use it at your school? Which school?

  5. 5 Alistair Owens

    One of the biggest challenges facing teachers and education authorities is how to mobilise parents in the schooling process. Their effective hands on support can make a huge difference in the performance of a child. Perhaps we should open up the career opportunities in web design to show parents as well as teachers the scope and job satisfaction that can be achieved in this industry. We promote education as being fun through a huge range of educational games that catch the eye and fire the enthusiasm. Perhaps Web2 needs similar treatment for the designers of tomorrow.

    I would welcome any information that is available and publish it on keen2learn

    Educational Games Keen2learn - award winning selection of Educational Toys, educational games and toys induces fun to stimulate learning.

    Alistair Owens

  6. 6 odysensupport

    Another start page to consider is Odysen. It includes widgets, multiple pages, and social networking features, works best with Firefox.

    There is also a blog available that goes into more details about specific widget and page features, and page examples. http://odysen.blogspot.com/

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