Month: April 2014

Me, My Selfie and iPad – my early thoughts on Web 2.0

As this is a blog, and I can do things here that I would not normally be able to do in an essay, I am going to tell a joke.

I went into PC world today and the man tried to sell me Windows 8. I said to him “Do you think I’m stupid? I already own Windows 95 – I’m not going to downgrade by 87 versions!”

Okay, as jokes go it is not very funny – but a good link to look at the use of numbers to describe the World Wide Web.

There are numerous definitions of the term Web 2.0. Tarik and Karim (2012), describe it as ‘a set of web user-centred design applications’ and Mcloughlin and Lee (2007, p665) define it as

‘a second generation…communicative form of the World Wide Web that emphasises participation, connectivity, collaboration and sharing of knowledge and ideas among users’

Definitions of Web 1.0 are more difficult to find. Mike Evans (2006, Online) describes Web 1.0 as the ‘read-only web’, which juxtaposes against another definition of Web 2.0 as ‘Read-Write Web’ (Richardson, 2006)

While the term Web 1.0 did not exist until the term Web 2.0 was coined in 2004 by Dougherty (cited in JISC, 2007 p.5), the term suggests that the web has become upgraded or improved. This appears to be an assumption that Berners-Lee refutes when he describes Web 2.0 as ‘using the standards which have been produced by all these people working in Web 1.0’ (Laningham (ed.), 2006). Perhaps Web 2.0 does not necessarily refer to the changes, or improvements to the web, but rather to the way in which the web is used. It may have been better to name it Web 1.1, as it is more of a modification than a second generation. Cormode and Krishnamurthy (2008, p4) suggest that it is hard to categorise a website as either Web 2.0 or Web 1.0. They also point out that many Web 1.0 sites are still in use today, whereas many Web 2.0 sites where around long before 2004. The categorisation appears to be determined more by the ethos of the website than the actual website itself.

From my own personal opinion, I have minimal interest in the classification of a web space as Web 1.0 or 2.0. I feel that there are times when I will use a particular site as web 1.0, where I am just accessing information, whereas I may visit the same site on another occasion and want to use it in a Web 2.0 way, such as leaving a comment on a forum.

Finally, I think it should be pointed out that Web 2.0 was coined 10 years ago. If it took companies like Microsoft and Apple 10 years to upgrade their software, they would now be out of business. Has really nothing happened to our use of the World Wide Web over the last 10 years? The internet which I use today is far different from the one I accessed in 2004. Evans in 2006 suggested that we were reaching Web 4.0 – and I would suggest things have moved forward dramatically again since then. I doubt that I will be cited in anyone’s dissertations in the near future, but I propose that we are now at least up to Web 14.0, where the World Wide Web is a historical term when placed next to the App. Reports are now surfacing that Generation Z are abandoning the Web 2.0 staples such as Facebook in favour of Apps which deliver short snippets of interaction such as WhatsApp or Snapchat (Olson, 2013, Online.)

Now, all I have to do is sit back and wait for Tim Berners-Lee to refute my claim.

 

References:

Anderson, P. (2007) What is Web 2.0? Ideas, technologies and implications for education. JISC Technology and Standards Watch. pp.1-64

Cormode, G. and Krishnamurthy, B. (2008). Key Differences between Web1.0 and Web2.0. Florham Park, NJ: AT&T

Evans, M. (2006). The Evolution of the Web – From Web 1.0 to Web 4.0 [Online]. Available: http://www.cscan.org/presentations/08-11-06-MikeEvans-Web.pdf [20/4/14]

Laningham, S (ed.) 2006. Tim Berners-Lee. Podcast, developerWorks Interviews, 22nd August, IBM website. Cited in: Anderson, P. (2007) What is Web 2.0? Ideas, technologies and implications for education. JISC Technology and Standards Watch. pp.1-64

McLoughlin, C. and Lee, M. (2007) Social software and participatory learning: Pedagogical choices with technology affordances in the Web 2.0 era. Ascilite Singapore 2007. pp. 664-675

Olson, P. (2013) Teenagers say goodbye to Facebook and hello to messenger apps. The Guardian. [Online.] Available: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/nov/10/teenagers-messenger-apps-facebook-exodus [23/4/14]

Richardson, W. (2006). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and other powerful tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Tarik, M. and Karim, A. (2012) The use of Web 2.0 innovations on Education and Training. Education 2012. Vol2(5) pp. 183-187

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Blogging and Communities of Practice

Wenger (no date, Online) describes communities of practice as ‘groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly’. Blogging could be seen as an ideal medium for communities of practice – allowing for comment and thought as well as the potential for interaction. Perhaps one major issue for a teacher in the lifelong learning sector, is the question of which community of practice are we interacting with. This particular blog is aimed at tutors and peers involved in the same module. However, the potential of blogging in education is the ability to interact with the students. In my case, this is students of Ophthalmic Dispensing or Contact Lenses. In addition to this, I also work as both a Dispensing Optician and a Contact Lens Optician. This could give me a further opportunity to interact with another community of practice within the industry as opposed to an educational setting.

A look at the use of blogs within the Ophthalmic Dispensing industry reveal very little in depth. Blogs such as ‘delighted to be a dispensing optician’ (2011, Online.) and ‘Dispensing Optician – Lesley-Johann’  both are snapshots of the state of the industry or diaries of events, with little or no interaction with the broader community of practice.

Alternatively, the use of blogging in education is much more widespread and would appear far more successful . Steve Wheelers blog on learning technology (2012), shows a much broader use of the blog as an interactive tool, with pictures and other hyperlinks, and a great deal of discussion with other peers. It appears that he can demonstrate what the blog is capable of, whereas the blogs by dispensing opticians able to be viewed do not show the same level of blogging as a tool for interaction.

Godwin-Jones (2003) suggested blogs as being constructed by people who share similar interests who collaborate to set objectives or ideas, and also suggested that this is what distinguishes blogs from other forms of websites. I certainly share interests with other opticians, as well as with my students. But as my students are more interested in their learning journey than the vocation, then do my students and my peers in optical industry share the same interests and goals?

I fear it would be very difficult to use a blog to try to connect these different communities of practice which I am currently involved in. Looking at how other blogs are used in different environments, it is clear that what is of interest to one particular community of practice will be of lesser interest to another community of practice. Perhaps the answer is to use blogging as an educational tool for the students, whilst drawing on experiences of these different communities.

Ideally, how I would like to use the blog in an educational setting by inviting current students as well as former students working in practice to share best practice and offer peer advice, as well as making my own comments on the experiences of the industry and education. It could be a very useful tool to run alongside a social network.

Perhaps the biggest concern is student apathy. I have attempted blogs as well as social networks in the past and have felt that I have been shouting at empty space. To get the students to use it as an interactive tool rather than another resource of information has always been the challenge for me – you can take a horse to water but you cant make it drink. Closer examination of the two previously mentioned blogs by dispensing opticians (see previous post) have been conspicuously sparce of comments

Yang (2009, p14) claimed that blogs are virtual classrooms, where ‘people from all over the world can share opinions and express ideas by using a language they all understand’. While this is certainly a possibility (Neverseconds being an example), my opinion is that in reality, the blog is far more likely to appeal to much smaller communities of practice, such as a class cohort, if it is to be used as a tool for interaction rather than a platform for an individual opinion. Of course, this opinion is coming from someone who has limited and unsuccessful experience of blogging. If I can find a way to try to broaden my community of practice and amalgamate my students with the broader vocational community, then I may yet be a convert. It is certainly something which must be worth trying.

 

References

Diponio (2011) Delighted to be a dispensing optician [Online.] Available: http://www.opticianonline.net/opticianspace/blogs/the_dispensing_blog/archive/2011/01/27/delighted-to-be-a-dispensing-optician.aspx [Accessed 26/03/2014]

Godwin-Jones, B. (2003). Emerging technologies: Blogs and wikis: Environments for on-line collaboration. Language Learning & Technology, 7 (2), 12–16.

Payne, M. (2012), Neverseconds. [Online.] Available: http://neverseconds.blogspot.co.uk/ Accessed: 23/03/2014

Stephens, L. J. (2013) Dispensing Optician [Online.] Available: http://dispensingoptician.blogspot.co.uk/ [Accessed 26/03/2014]

Wenger-Trayner, E. (No Date) Communities of practice a brief introduction [Online.] Available http:// http://wenger-trayner.com/theory/ [accessed 26th March 2014]

Wheeler, S. (2012) Learning with ‘e’s. My thoughts about learning technology and all things digital. [Online.] Available: http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/learning-unlearning-and-relearning.html [Accessed: 4/4/14].

 Yang, S.H. (2009). Using Blogs to Enhance Critical Reflection and Community of Practice. Educational Technology & Society, 12 (2), 11–21.

My Brief Encounter with Video Conferencing

After very brief introductions to the technologies of video conferencing (with adobe connect and google+ hangouts) I am still yet to be fully convinced. Clearly the benefits are there for all to see. The opportunity to have conversations with people from all over the country (or even world) allows us to branch out to a global audience, rather than being restricted to our relatively local geography. However, the Google hangout which I took part in was meant to have 7 people involved, and only 3 people were present. This was done as part of a course where ICT is the central theme – this would suggest that those involved would be more committed and able to make the technology work. If less than 50% attendance for this meeting is a guideline, then it does not bode well for possible attendance in other groups.

I have students who would class themselves as definite technophobes, who would withdraw from the idea of a video call, and much prefer the face to face environment. Any failure of the technology (or understanding of the technology) is likely to diminish their confidence in this method of communication.

However, the discussion in the hangout was very useful – the small number of participants made it very easy to communicate. I worry about the ability to communicate with 7 people as there is a slight delay in the audio which often left more than one person talking at the same time (and a similar number of awkward silences)

The application of new technology is often impressive to the learner, but I am unsure as to whether it would actually improve the quality of my teaching. Knipe and Lee (2002, p 302) suggest that studies around video conferencing ‘seem to concentrate more on the practical advantages that the medium has, rather than focusing on the quality of teaching and learning’

My introduction to Adobe Connect was slightly different in that I was just an audience member while the technology was demonstrated by Gail Hall and her team. Again, the possibilities are vast, with proof that with the correct equipment it is possible to demonstrate science experiments and even perfom assessments based on the experiments.

But again, there are clear barriers to communication with the small lag in audio and the multiple windows with each individual participant. Again, it led to uncomfortable pauses followed by several people talking at the same time. Admittedly, this was mainly due to the audience who have little experience with the technology. Gail was able to overcome this problem quite easily, but, this is largely due to being very experienced with the technology. This again brings me to a concern in that it takes time to get the confidence to use the technology effectively, and with new cohorts of students constantly flowing through the system, will it be a case of managing students use of technology rather than their development of their ophthalmic skills and knowledge.

Coventry (no date, Online) also sees a similar issue ‘The technologies used to deliver video conferences currently have a dramatic effect on the quality of the communication achievable’

I see such technology as an excellent way to provide tutorial support. It can be done in the home at times to suit the student, and I feel that the technology is very manageable in a small group setting (one to one support may be ideally suited to this method)

Clearly, I have barely scratched the surface with this type of ICT, but at this moment in time feel that it is something I will offer as an additional service to the students to underpin learning rather than as a principal means of student communication.

References 

Coventry, A. (No date). Video Conferencing in Higher Education. [Online.] Available: http://www.vnseameo.org/bblam/forum/ICT/vc%20in%20higher%20education.pdf [Accessed 4th April 2014].

Knipe, D. and Lee, M. (2002) The quality of teaching and Learning via videoconferencing. British Journal of Educational Technology. 33:3, p301-311