July 15, 2009

Web 2.0 Grows Up, Goes to College

By: in Distance Learning Administration

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It’s not easy to get unanimous agreement on anything these days, but on this most educators can agree:

  1. An instructor’s personality impacts student learning;
  2. More is learned in a class than just course content; and
  3. It can be difficult to show your personality in an online course.

And yet, with the proliferation of Web 2.0 applications making inroads into the higher education community, educators now have more ways than ever before to share a piece of themselves with their students, while adding a new dimension to the course content, says Todd Conaway, an instructional designer at Yavapai College.

During the recent online seminar, Using Web 2.0 to Enhance Classes, Improve Retention, Conaway gave participants a crash course in a wide variety of Web 2.0 tools that are relatively easy to use and provide anywhere from basic to advanced features for free.

“None of these tools can replace the passion you have for your content or for teaching, but they can help you demonstrate that passion and carry it forward to your online students,” Conaway says.

Many of the Web 2.0 applications Conaway encourages faculty to experiment with are the very same ones being used by students and others in their personal lives, including YouTube, Blogger, Wikispaces, Second Life, Jing, Screencast.com, Audacity, Dimdim, Flickr, and Ning.

While the first generation of the Internet was largely information presented in a static fashion, Web 2.0 is participatory and collaborative in nature and everyone is invited to create as well as consume, says Conaway. With more educators moving to a learner-centered teaching, it’s not hard to envision the instructional implications these tools carry.

Ready to get started? Head on over to a Ning site Conaway created just for this seminar. There you can dip your toes in the Web 2.0 waters or, if you’re really brave, do a cannonball right into the deep end. The site is available here.

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