Embedding Web 2.0 Tools into Your Course Management System

If Web 1.0 was about information, then Web 2.0 is about sharing information. This second generation of the Web is more personalized, more collaborative, and more engaging. Is it any wonder faculty are looking for ways to leverage these capabilities in their courses?

The good news is the number of free Web 2.0 tools to choose from seems to grow each day. The bad news is there are so many new tools that it’s hard to know which ones can be used effectively in the higher education environment and which ones aren’t worth the time.

In the 90-minute online seminar Free Web 2.0 Tools to Use Inside Your LMS, Barry Dahl gave an overview of some of his favorite Web 2.0 tools and demonstrated how easily these tools can be brought into a course management system.

Dahl, vice president of Technology and the Lake Superior Connect e-Campus at Lake Superior College, says that pulling these tools into the Learning Management System (LMS) carries many more benefits than simply linking to them. For one thing by embedding a particular Web 2.0 tool into the proper place of the course content stream students can better understand where it fits within the context of the course and why they’re using it. Secondly, by keeping students in the course shell, they’re less likely to get distracted or tempted by other things on the web.

Some of the tools Dahl demonstrated during the seminar include the Zoho Writer, a word processing application similar to Google Docs that allows multiple students to create, edit, and share documents, and Zoho Notebook, a collaborative tool that allows users to create and share multimedia notebooks with text, images, hyperlinks, and audio and video clips simply by dropping and dragging the different elements. He also showed how to embed Delicious bookmarks and Mindomo mind maps, and how to create short comic strips using ToonDoo – a fun application he likes to use to help students get to know one another.

All of the tools Dahl demonstrated are available for free, although some do have premium fee-based features for power users. They also have something else in common, other than their quirky names.

“Web 2.0 tools are easy to use,” says Dahl. “You don’t have to be a geek to figure them out.”

For a list of tools Dahl uses as part of his personal learning environment, visit http://barrydahl.com/ple/