The Usage of Web 2.0 Tools in E-Learning

A company that uses web 2.0 tools to connect with its public is seen as a partner, an equal; it is accepted and regarded with less cynicism by the target audience – and that is what any company wants, after all. The same goes for e-learning, where web 2.0 tools started to play an important part.First of all, let’s clarify the meaning of web 2.0. It refers to interactive websites, where the content is provided by the users, instead of a single, “authorized” voice. Web 2.0 is easy to navigate and to customize, and it can be seen as a huge collaboration between people from all over the world. Web 2.0 is dynamic, with the content always being edited or updated. It is the “social web”, consisting of resources and instruments that are based on interaction and social collaboration, such as: blogs, microblogs, wikis, social networks, collective bookmarking systems, as well as instruments for creating, publishing and sharing content. The web 2.0 is defined in contrast with the web 1.0, which was a collection of static websites (read-only web), with the user as spectator and not participant.The most popular web 2.0 tools of the moment are: YouTube (video content), Wikipedia (online encyclopedia), Twitter (microblogging), WordPress (blogging platform), IMDB (movie database), Flickr (photo sharing), Facebook (social network) and eHow (advice). We are going to discuss just a few of these, and try to determine their educational value.Most videos from the web are now hosted by YouTube, the biggest and most popular online community of such kind. Whenever someone looks for video content, they will look on YouTube first. Online lectures are already available in several languages and are thought to be the future of distance education. Tutorials for virtually any software can be found on YouTube. PowerPoint presentations and such can become more appealing when combined with a tune and uploaded on YouTube. Students and trainees should be encouraged to create their own videos (filmed with the cell phone or camera that most people nowadays have access to), for example of the “how to” type: how to make a research on… (topic of choice). In 2009, YouTube Edu was launched, specialized in educational videos. There you can find lectures, contests, shows in various study fields, from law to business, from science to arts. This page is a very good way to start a research or to begin using video material for a training course.”Twitter is a real-time information network powered by people all around the world that lets you share and discover what’s happening now” (source: This is basically a micro-blogging platform, somewhat similar to the SMS, that lets people share random information in 140 characters or less. This seems like it can hardly be used as an educational resource. But, for example, if you’re producing a scheme of work, you can ask for feedback, and receive it immediately, as to where the best research has been done on the topic.  Twitter might also be used to teach students to express themselves briefly, given the limited number of characters. A useful idea for literature or language study is the creation of haikus that would get published immediately. As Twitter is an international platform, it makes room for inter-national information exchange: you can find out how the training system works in other countries and help improve you own teaching.. A very interesting application that combines web 2.0 means is “Twitter4teachers”, a wiki that helps educators find other educators on Twitter, people who share the same field of education; there are lists (“college and university”, “retired teachers”, “English as a second language teachers”, “librarians” etc.) where teachers can add themselves, by editing the wiki.When it comes to other uses then Wikipedia for the wiki, people often get confused; mostly because they don’t realize how easy it is for this structure to be used. A wiki on a certain project has every reason to be well organized. While a number of people add to a page, they may also use the “discussion” section of any page to comment and debate their work in progress. The leader or an endorsed person may look in the “history” section to see every single version of the page, as it has been edited by users. The wiki platform is easy to use and open to the integration of multimedia content. The trainer can evaluate both the quality and quantity of the participants’ work. The platform offers an audience to the learning process (the educator, as well as the other trainees) and a collaborative working space, where the participants can create and share content. They can be used as personal portfolios or for the coordination of research. They make it easier to follow a group project; they allow a Frequently Asked Questions system for the participants they make a good debate and discussion environment. Basically, a wiki is a website that is easy to design, without any coding knowledge, so this can be of help in many fields.With the help of modern media, the learning process becomes easier, creativity is stimulated and team work is at its peak. Additional to the main e-learning platform, web 2.0 resources can be used for variation and to engage the participants in the course. The usage of familiar tools, like Twitter or Facebook, will relax the trainees and they will incline to be more active and positive in the learning environment.

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