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Friday, December 22, 2006

Embrace web 2.0 technology or die - that's an order!

It seems a no brainer to me that higher educational establishments offering distance learning courses should embrace web 2.0 technologies quickly otherwise their credibility is an institute of repute will quite frankly be tarnished. Relying on subject expertise will not be enough, the online delivery and communication techniques used will sort out the winners from the losers

It would seem that a lot of higher education institutions may think that by providing a VLE such as Blackboard they have done their bit for distance and e-learning and that is the end of the matter. Many institutions even at this stage may not even be aware of the growing influence of web 2.0 technologies and will bumble along quite merrily, as their customer (student) base dwindles away.

If I can make some sort of an analogy between institutions (and it may not be the best, but hopefully you will get the point) that embrace web 2.0 technologies and those that don’t, it would be like comparing an institution that currently asks for all essays to be handwritten instead of an institution that accepts word processed essays. Most students would find this unacceptable, irritating and a sign of an organization not up with the times. This will probably be the case with web 2.0 technologies and the benefits they offer in communication, community building, learning and teaching 5 years from now.

The only conceivable argument I can see for not embracing web 2.0 technologies are considerations of privacy and security of data. If there are good educational and learning reasons for using web 2.0 technology then a way needs to be found to overcome privacy and security of data issues, which I am sure, can easily be found if the desire is there.

Quite bold statements from a mere novice in the field, however after reading various advocates testimony, briefly reviewing some web 2.o technologies the vibe just feels right. My proviso being that web 2.0 technologies give you the platform to do some very interesting things, but you’ve got to know your technology and use it well.

web 2.0 Adventures

My recent adventures into web 2.0 land that have ignited my fire are the web application ‘basecamp’, which uses wiki technology (only it just does not tell you) for the purpose of project management and it makes it feel so damn easy. I am sure higher education can learn a lot from the ease of use of this product and it seems ideal for use as a course management system. I shall investigate further.

The second vitally important element of the whole web 2.0 phenomenon is the XML feed technology e.g. RSS or Atom and the ability to subscribe to blogs. I’m afraid I’m a busy man, hey maybe I’m a bit lazy – I want the action to come to me. I cannot always remember where all the action is or will be so I want notification by the killer internet application email or I want all the action sucked into my central website base.

So this leads to the beauty of subscription where your favourite blogs can be emailed directly to you, using a subscription service such as feedblitz or alternatively, use a service such as bloglines where all your favourite blogs are brought together at a central website.

Wake up there could be a revolution going on.

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