Web 2.0 - the 'social web'
What is it?
The term Web 2.0 refers to a range of innovative web-based tools designed to enhance communication and collaboration. Most allow users to contribute their own content - 'user-generated content' - usually linked to online group formation, feedback and interaction. As the JISC notes “While potential benefits continue to emerge, Web 2.0 is already providing users with greater flexibility and access to information”. JISC has produced a useful short introduction:
- Web 2.0 and social software (2007 - PDF)
Social media at UCL
Visit the UCL Social Media website for guidelines, tutorials and to find out how groups at UCL are already using social media tools.
Web 2.0 includes:
- social networking - Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn etc.
- blogs - UCL blogging service
- wikis - UCL wiki (the UCL-supported wiki), Mediawiki
- social bookmarking - Delicious, Diigo
- RSS news feeds
- media sharing sites - YouTube for video, Flickr for images, Audioboo for sound
- micro-blogging - Twitter
- presentations - Prezi, Slideshare
- 'Start pages' to link these together - iGoogle
Many Web 2.0 systems are used by students and staff in their personal lives on a regular basis and they potentially have an impact in universities not only for teaching and learning but for research practice, administration, professional practice and marketing.
Why does it matter?
The idea has captured the imagination of many educators who see it as a route to better collaborative working and participation even in ‘traditional’ settings. The fact that Web 2.0 is already pervasive in our students’ social lives and will become an increasing part of their post-university professional practice only adds to the motivation to use it. An excellent starting point to consider teaching and learning applications is the recent overview from again from the JISC:
What is happening at UCL?
Some ‘Web 2.0’ services are already provided by Information Services Division (ISD) – for instance a wiki (Confluence), blogging service (Wordpress), podcasting and video applications. Additionally Moodle includes tools for basic blogging, wiki, RSS, student-generated material and communication and these will continue to improve in future releases.
Nonetheless at the moment in-house applications do not all have the flexibility, functionality, nor the attractive dynamic interfaces of external services such as Facebook or YouTube. Perhaps more importantly they don’t currently have the social prestige of Web 2.0, which is a major part of their appeal to both educators and students.
Given that Web 2.0 applications are often available at no or minimal cost there is an understandable attraction in using these to support UCL teaching, research and administration activities. However, this is not without risk in terms of service provision, legal liability and university regulations. ISD is developing a set of guidelines and advice for staff who wish to use Web 2.0 tools in their teaching or research.
UCL Communications have produced an excellent set of guides to social media.
A selection of useful tools
A personal 'start' page which could be the core of your own 'personal working/learning environment'. iGoogle allows you to add in RSS newsfeeds from useful sites (like the Times Higher, Guardian Education, and blogs). Also allows you to add 'gadgets' - perhaps to add Twitter, Delicious, and other bits and pieces to your home page. To add stuff to your iGoogle page click the 'Add Stuff' link near the top of the page.
Great for keeping up with your discipline area, and with general stuff. Find the 'hash tags' (#) for your area. For instance search for #moodle to find out what's going on within the global Moodle community (and #ucllhl to find out what people are saying about the lunch hour lecture). You don't need to tweet much (or at all) to get a lot out of others' tweets! Read a blog post about experiences with Twitter.
UCL's e-portfolio - a private online space to store evidence of learning and personal development, share it with others for comment and feedback, and select and present it to anyone you choose. Has a social side - you can create groups to have discussions or share documents. Also has a blog to reflect on learning (or indeed write about anything!).
Tools for bookmarking and managing information
Browser-based tool for collecting and managing bibliographic sources. Has a great Firefox plugin (which also works on UCL managed PCs).
Tools for highlighting and adding sticky notes to web pages. It remembers what you wrote and highlighted. You can bookmark pages and it creates a permanent archive. Again you can add a plugin to your browser.
Social bookmarking system. You store your web bookmarks online and can access them on multiple computers. The social side means that you can see who else has bookmarked the same page and have a peek at other pages they may have bookmarked. (You can also choose to make selected bookmarks private). Again you can add a plugin to your browser.
General (and great) productivity tools
Note-taking system. You can use it through a browser, or install it on a PC, Mac or smart phone or iPad. You can tag your notes. Some people find it indispensable - it can allow you to go (comparatively) paperless!
If you start using dropbox you'll never email yourself a file again! It is web-based file storage and you can use it to store all sorts of files, and access them from wherever you have an internet connection (including from a smartphone). You can download the software so that it appears just like a normal drive in MyComputer or Finder (Mac). You have 2GB storage free of charge.
You can create spreadsheets, word processed documents, presentations and drawings then share them with others (or keep them private). You can look at the 'revisions history' and so see who changed what, when. You can also 'chat' with other authors while editing.
Collaborative working for UCL people. You can set up shared or personal spaces, collaboratively edit text, upload Word and other documents. It also has an integrated blog. See our guidance.
Tools for presenting which aren't PowerPoint
The 'zooming' presentation tool. Can be fun to build and good if you have a visual mind (and are fed up with PowerPoint bulleted lists). But take care with excessive zooming - it can induce nausea... Look at some of the example Prezis on the home page for inspiration (the Maths is not linear one is great). You may find it best to sketch out the overall shape of the presentation on a piece of paper first.
Tool for sharing PowerPoint or Keynote presentations. You can copy the 'embed code' for your presentation and add it to a Moodle page so that the presentation appears on that page in a small window - you can then move through the presentation within the Moodle page. There is an example of this in our 'Beyond the baseline' Moodle course - feel free to rummage through this course as it may give you other ideas.
Page last modified on 22 jan 13 09:03