Ludwig Gatzke

Thing 1: What is Web 2.0 and (Why) Does it Matter?


Web 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networking and social bookmarking sites, tagging, photo- and video-sharing, RSS, etc...) are collaborative, browser-based and user-driven. They include platforms and tools for publishing, connecting, sharing, organizing, and remixing.

A popular synonym for "Web 2.0" is the "Read/Write Web," which suggests that users are contributing, creating, and collaborating rather than just consuming web content. "Web 1.0" or the "Read-Only Web" was a place where the average user didn't publish content, because it required technical knowledge (HTML and other programming codes) and money (to purchase server space and software). Web 2.0 tools allow users to easily participate and to customize their on-line experiences.

Web 2.0 is about powerful Web-based technologies connecting people and ideas. Here are a few "one-sentence" definitions, and one that is slightly longer that describe Web 2.0.
  • "It's not a web of computers, it's a web of people." - Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the World Wide Web
  • "Web 2.0 is the two-way web where content finds you." - Ron Rasmussen, KnowNow
  • "People doing things together on the web." - Mitchell Baker, Mozilla Foundation
  • "The new WWW: Whatever. Whenever. Wherever." - Tom March, Educator, Inventor of WebQuests
  • "Less than a decade ago, when we were first getting used to the idea of an Internet, people described the act of going online as venturing into some foreign realm called cyberspace. But that metaphor no longer applies. MySpace, Flickr and all the other newcomers aren't places to go, but things to do, ways to express yourself, means to connect with others and extend your own horizons. Cyberspace was somewhere else. The Web is where we live." - Steven Levy and Brad Stone, Newsweek

But what brought on the evolution from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0? One word - bandwidth!
In the beginning, we connected to the Internet via dial-up modems. My first modem ran at a whopping 2400 baud, a hair's breadth quicker than a snail's pace. Then again, the Internet was not what we know it to be today. There was no "World Wide Web" as this pre-dated the use of browsers like Netscape and Internet Explorer, which gave us a "graphical" view of the Internet. Instead services like Prodigy were our gateway to what was available at the time.

Fast forward ahead to the age of DSL and cable modems, which for many closed the book on dial-up. These faster speeds opened up a myriad of opportunities for developers to design websites that would take advantage of these faster speeds. Instead of taking forever to download a picture, we could now watch streaming video via YouTube. Worrying about file sizes became less of a burden when sharing content, and the ability to contribute to the ever-growing content available on the Internet became easier than ever.

Discovery Exercises: (Why) Does Web 2.0 Matter?

Watch the following video clips to learn a bit more about some important "21st Century Shifts."

The Web is Changing...

Web 2.0: The Machine is Us/ing Us by Michael Wesch (4:32)

The World is Changing...

Shift Happens / Did You Know? This video is a remake of the original video first published by Karl Fisch (7:38)

Our Students are Changing...

A Vision of Students Today by Michael Wesch and students at Kansas State University (4:45)


What might Web 2.0 look like in school?

Read this blog post: "Web 2.0 is the Future of Education" by Steve Hargadon, and the attached article "A Day in the Life of Web 2.0" by David Warlick. (Yes, these total of eight pages of reading, but they are an important stage-setter for the course).
  • Consider the ways in which Web 2.0 tools might change (or have already changed) your professional practice.
  • How might you be able to use these new tools to to engage today's "digital learners?" If you are not a classroom teacher, how might you be able to use these tools to engage your stakeholders?
  • Why would you want to?

Next week (Thing 2), you will be asked to complete a blog post reflecting on your initial thoughts about web 2.0 and its role in 21st Century teaching and learning, so be sure to make a few notes.