Use Of Web Technologies In Education Education Essay

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The aim of this essay is to explore the potential use of web 2.0 technologies as a learning tool in higher education , to establish what strategies should be used to maximize the potential benefits of web 2.0 .I will study some cases to analyze the web 2.0 strategies which have been taken in teaching and learning. In particular, I will address the strategic implications of web 2.0 technologies in supporting student learning.


The nature of teaching and learning has always been linked with the nature of the technology used in any historical period. In the age of orality or pre writing, teaching was predominantly oral and speech was the only mode of communication. As people moved from orality to writing culture, their thinking created cultures with unique characteristics that were different from orality culture (Ong 1982).In the age of print culture, knowledge was obtained and disseminated easily using technology. The availability of information in the print culture has led to advances in subjects such as science as scholars were able to share their information .The technological developments of the industrial revolution also changed the creation and dissemination of knowledge as teachers used the printed materials and textbooks to transfer knowledge and information to a group of learners. Ong (1982) distinguish the primary oral culture (public communication and talking) from 'secondary' orality culture which developed by communication media such as Radio which accentnate sound. The secondary orality includes elements from both the writing and the orality culture. He states that secondary orality culture are empathetic, foster a strong sense of membership in a group, and unite people in groups whereas writing promotes distance between readers and authors. Therefore, secondary orality is a social way of understanding the opinions of others through dialogue and building relationships which are different from print culture which isolates people. A model of secondary orality can be presented in teaching and learning using web 2.0 tools .This provides opportunity to integrate some aspects of writing and oral characteristics using web 2.0 technologies.Web 2.0 technologies have many characteristics of secondary orality which includes the discussions about the topics of concerns which are close to the human life and through dialogue and interactions students and teachers are able to share their opinions .For example, Downes (2004) implemented web 2.0 strategies to promote communication and sharing knowledge among students. He integrated some aspects of writing and oral characteristics in his teaching through blogs and provide opportunities for students to not only use information but also create and share content. First, he created a blog to publish information and provide resources for students which are similar to textbooks that have authority and ownership on publishing information (writing and print culture). Second, he also used blogs to provide the opportunity for students to discuss about specific topics and reach to collective agreement which is similar to secondary orality culture in which students were able to engage in conversation and share their opinions. Web 2.0 has the potential to incorporate some aspects of writing and orality activities in order to enhance learning and teaching However, despite many benefits of web 2.0 in education, a number of studies provide evidence in which teachers failed to facilitate active interaction among students ( eg Lankshear & Knobel ,2003). Therefore, it appears understandable that successful use of web 2.0 technologies require strategies in order to take advantages of these tools.

Potential benefits of web 2.0 technologies

McClintock (1992, p42) argues that the print system has dominated education for the past five centuries and the physical nature of books 'necessarily influences the way that educators organise education'.Ong (1982) states that although the education has been profoundly affected by print culture but the advent of electronic communication that introduce a secondary orality have a profound on education. Similarly, McLuhan (1957) argues that the development of communication tools would transform formal education. However, such predictions about the transformation potential of technology have failed to come true. Cuban (1993) argues that many educational claims were made for each new technology and subsequently each claim was disproved by new developments. Cuban states that the technology has been ignored by many teachers despite extensive investment in technology. Furthermore, he provides two reasons why technology has not changed the education. Firse, cultural beliefs regarding teaching and learning , second, the print paradigm of the nineteenth century has shaped the education.

However, despite significant investments in ICT in education in last ten years, it had a little impact in educational practices. This was in part due to confusion about why we want to use ICT, and what we want to achieve, and how we want to use ICT with regard to restrictions exists in education. As Cloke (2001,p8) states ''teachers are being encouraged to teach old knowledge with new technologies ''. However, implementing web 2.0 technologies require strategies in order to promote teaching and learning. Richardson (2004) implemented web 2.0 strategies in his teaching and learning to encourage students to engage in an online discussion using blog technology. He also provided real activities in order to promote sharing knowledge among students and teachers.He invited the parents and authors to share and participate in the discussion of 'The Secret Life of Bees'. He found that blogs enable students to engage in conversation, think more critically, reflect on their learning and build their relationships with peers and teachers (Richardson, 2006). Richardson also found that blogs helped reluctant students to share their opinions in class, and integrated in the learning community. Therefore, to promoting communication and sharing knowledge among students, teachers need to implement strategies in order to encourage students to participate in collaborative activities.

Lifelong learning and web 2.0 technology

The potential benefits of web 2.0 technologies lie in their capacity to facilitate collaboration, connect teachers, students, and experts together to share their knowledge. The European commission (2006) provide a set of reasons for using information technology in education in a way that encourage use of web 2.0 technologies. They state that the universities need to share excellence in research and teaching and provide sufficient access to resources. Web 2.0 technologies provide the opportunity for educators to work collaboratively regardless of geographical boundaries and provide access to a vast range of resources which support life long learning. It also allows users to work collaboratively and share their knowledge. There is a significant emphasis on educational policy in supporting lifelong learning . Brophy, Craven and fisher (1998) define the concept of lifelong learning as follows ``life long learning is a deliberate, progression throughout the life of an individual, where the initial acquisition of knowledge and skills is reviewed and upgraded continuously, to meet challenges set by an ever changing society'' (p.1). It is therefore clear that life long learning requires the development of knowledge, skills, and values throughout our life. These skills and competencies can be achieved through collaboration and sharing our experiences and knowledge. Delors ( 1996) identified ``four pillars of lifelong learning: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together, and learning to be``(p.37). He emphasises on learning to live together as the foundation of education and discuss that by working together we can understand the opinions of others and share our problems and interests, develop our communication, social skills, and critical thinking and take the personal responsibility for our goals and learning. To promote life long learning, students, and teachers need to have sufficient and easy access to resources, being collaborative and being able to construct and share their knowledge. Wanger (2004)argues that there are a need for knowledge creation and sharing through dialogue with questions and answers. Furthermore, he distinguishes between needs of knowledge users and knowledge creators. He demonstrates that in constructing knowledge, users need to find relevant information, obtain the knowledge, and find good quality of the sources. In terms of needs of knowledge creators. He states that new knowledge should be created, collected and disseminated as quickly possible to solve problems because knowledge change rapidly. Therefore, web 2.0 have the capacity to create, capture and share our knowledge. Will Richardson (2006, weblog ) writes:`` The good news for all of us is that today, anyone can become a lifelong learner. (Yes, even you.) These technologies are user friendly in a way that technologies have not been in the past. You can be up and blogging in minutes, editing wikis in seconds, making podcasts in, well, less time than you'd think. It's not difficult at all to be an active contributor in this society of authorship we are building...`` (n.p).These studies indicate that web 2.0 technology provide opportunity for people to be lifelong learners and keep up to date with developments in topics of their interests. In particular, web 2.0 tools can support learning and professional development in a life long learning by offering access to a vast variety of learning content that can supplement initial training. Learning is not only about using new tools to access information and sharing our knowledge, it is also about using the technology to develop our learning and solve problems. However, the main challenge for education is not technology; it is our cultural and pedagogical beliefs. The main biggest challenges in using web 2.0 technology according to Becta's web 2.0 researches (2008) is how to encourage students to engage actively in creating and sharing knowledge . The following section provides an overview on web 2.0 strategies which have been taken at universities to facilitate learning.

Case studies and Web 2.0 strategies

Franklin and Harmelen ( 2007) investigate the use of a range of social software tools in higher education examining the strategies which have been taken in implementing web 2.0 at four UK universities : Warwick, Leeds, Brighton, and Edinburgh.They also identified several problems and issues associated with implementing web 2.0 technologies.

The University of Brigton implemented web 2.0 strategies to promote social and community networks among students and teachers. One of the main findings was that contribution of professionals to learning and teaching were slow. They also found that there were some inappropriate posts among students which have been disappeared due to peer pressure.

The University of Edinburgh implemented web 2.0 strategies such as `` using blogs and RSS feeds instead of newsletters , using social bookmarking to facilitate the management of course l reading lists in a collaborative way and providing podcasts as part of support materials`` (p.12).The university highlights the importance of meeting needs of students rather than selecting best tools.

The Warwick University also implemented blog technology to enhance teaching and learning. One of the main findings was that blogs have positively changed social interaction among students and staff but teachers were a bit slow on integrating the tools into their teaching. Some students used blog for social activities and other students used blogs for ``academic writing such as book reviews``( P.9 ).John Dale, Head of IT service in Warwick's university in Guardian article ( 2005) states that the purpose for implementing web 2.0 tools were 'self publishing for all'. Furthermore, John states that we need to be ''open mind about blogs .There is lots of other ways of supporting reflection and personal development, or community and collaboration''(n.p). Therefore, teachers' motivation and pedagogical beliefs about the needs of students may influence the way they choose and design the content. A number of studies have shown that the successful implementation of educational technologies depends on the attitudes of educators, who decide how to use technology in their classroom.

Downes ( 2005 ) as cited in Franklin & Harmelen( 2007) states that `` learning is characterised not only by greater autonomy for the learner,but also a greater emphasis on active learning with creation, communication and participation playing key roles, and on changing roles for the teacher, indeed even a collapse of the distinction between teachers and student together''. Therefore, teachers have important role to provide choices that allow students develop their own interests.

The University of Leeds implemented web 2.0 strategies to in promote teaching and learning .They provide training sessions and workshops for supporting students and teachers. This strategy helped teachers to focus more on new ways of teaching and delivering information to students. It also helped students to become familar with web 2.0 functionality before starting the course.

In a degree course at the department of classics at the University of Leeds, Green (2009) used the wiki technology in his ancient Roman religion module to involve students in the creation of the materials they study in the classroom, and become more active participants in their group project. He was positive about using the wiki in-group project and identified several benefits of using the wiki. These benefits include : building a learning community; building a deeper understanding of the course, flexibility in terms of location in which everyone can work at any time and any place and easy to set up and operate the collaborative project. Of the potential advantages listed above, the tutor considers assessing the individual contribution of student in-group project as a problem in his module. Another problem was that the member of the groups had access to their own site, and they did not contribute to the work of other groups. The tutor also was concerned about plagiarism in which allowing students to review the work of other groups may be tempting students to take the ideas of other groups, particularly for the Roman Religion project where there was no secondary literature.

Web 2.0 technology demand a change in our attitudes toward the content, authority of source and creating materials.Web 2.0 technology is a tool that help learners express their ideas, analyze information, think critically and through these process students are able to recognize unreliable information..Web 2.0 provide opportunity for students to share their opinions and make decision together about the credibility of information and copyright materials .On the other hand, some argue that there is no central editor in publishing content in blogs and wikis and thus they can not be considered credible because it published by people which there are no control over contents (eg Bolous, 2006).

The role of teachers in web 2.0 technology

Augar, N.Raitman, R.Zhou, W (2004) investigated the ways in which social software applications used in Deakin University, Australia. The Deakin University adopted the successful icebreaker exercise to the wiki technology to facilitate communication and collaboration among students as well as help students to get used to the web 2.0 technology before the collaborative writing tasks start. The results of a survey by Deakin University in 2003 shows that the lack of interaction with peers and instructors were the main problems in learning online. Therefore, the university implemented web 2.0 strategies to develop social interaction and collaborative skills among ICT students.

Augar et al (2004) reported that the students participated in an icebreaker activity and introduced themselves to one another by posting their questions and answers. Students shared their ideas with other groups through dialogue with questions and answer. The benefits of icebreaker activity according to Augar achieved through the participation in and use of wikis.The benefits included interaction and facilitation of communication with peers and making the work easy. As discussed by Augar et al ( 2004), the students were more interested in questions related to the language and the cultural background of one another and from this sharing experience, students were able to make new friends.

Based on the earlier work of Freire on critical pedagogy, Shor (1993) state that teachers need to `pose problems derived from student life, social issues, and academic subjects, in a mutually created dialogue…inviting students to think critically about subject matter… the learning process itself, and their society` ( p.25) Therefore, the type of activity is important to engage students to collaborate with one another. As Bower and Woo (2006) found, there is a correlation between the types of activities with collaborative learning. Forte and Bruckman's (2006) findings confirm Bower's research by demonstrating that authentic tasks are important in engaging students to work collaboratively and contribute to the work of their peers.Therefore, teachers have important role to design activities that encourage collaboration and experimentation.

The tutors also took several strategies to ensure security of the wiki content. First, they set simple usage guidelines within posting page and every times students made a post on the wiki, the guidelines appeared on their page. Second, they monitored the wiki access and editing content to prevent students from posting intentional misuse and deletion. The tutors use the wiki technology for posting materials and information and leave messages to help students to read and share their ideas. This approach helps to fill the gap of learning between students by providing online resources and information. Students need adequate information for sharing and building knowledge ( Wanger 2004).

Tutors also presented themselves socially into group of students through posting their pictures on the wiki sites.This strategy helped students to add their picture to user page and become more motivated to participate in using wiki technology.The nature of wikis also provide opportunity for tutors to monitor how often participants visit a wiki system, whether they read the information and whether they are contributing on a particular topic.They also introduce the rules for creating and editing content and collaboration. According to, Johnson and Smith (1991), the tutors have important role in creating the course conditions, establishing an online community and engage students to be active participants. It is important that teachers set rules for example, student must post their ideas on the group before the group begin work on a collaborative activity. Johnson further state that tutors need to provide adequate resources and monitor collaboration among students and give comments in order to guide students.They also state that quality such as feedback and trust are important in collaborative activities and encouraging students to participate. Teachers need strategies to help learners to communicate and engage more effectively with their peers. For example teachers need to maintain effective relationships with students to engage them in collaboration and creating content. They also need to involve in discussions with students.

One of the essential role of teachers in the 21 century is to prepare learners to participate in socially organised activities.The role of teachers is important in order to encourage students to reflect on their own and their peers by asking questions that seek reasons and evidence.

Teachers also need to assess and monitor individual students and provide feedback to them. Web 2.0 requires new strategies for assessing collaborative learning. Teachers also need to offer student a credit/ grade for their contribution. This may help students to participate and also restrict the possibility of one person doing all the work on the group. These strategies are important because some students may do not want to share their work with others .Raman and Ryan (2005) states that a grading policy is important when using technology to create knowledge and encourage students to participate. Therefore, web 2.0 technology requires new strategies for assessing students. Using web 2.0 also require a change in role of teachers from authority to guide and facilitate learning. Teachers need to move from the conventional teaching methods to methods that engage students in activities that create new knowledge.

The role of students have to change from being a passive dependent learner to an active and independent learner. With the web 2.0 technology, students need to be active in creating and sharing content with collaborative skills rather than consuming information. They have to take responsibility for their work and reflect on their learning as well as assist each other to develop their learning by sharing their knowledge. Deci and Ryan (2002) state that to enhance the fulfillment of autonomy in learners, it is important to give them opportunities for choice, performing personal goals, values and inspiration. Implementing such approach is not easy. This is because education system is subject to many external pressures and they are not able to satisfy the needs of students.

The case studies demonstrate that Webs 2.0 have great potential for supporting learning. In particular, web 2.0 provides the opportunity for creating and sharing knowledge. It also allows users to engage in conversation and support each other. web 2.0 also support personalization. Social software applications can be used as a tool for sharing knowledge and personal learning.For example, blogs can be used as an individual homepage for storing personal resources and social activities.

However, despite many benefits of web 2.0 technologies in education, the case studies indicate that a number of teachers failed to facilitate active interaction among students.Pelgrum (2003) argue that a variety of changes must be implemented to optimize teachers use of information communication technology: changes in pedagogy , redesigning the assessment, providing opportunity for autonomy, providing teachers with sufficient support, providing adequate time for teachers to develop new skills and explore the integration of ICT into their teaching practices, providing formal and informal communities of practice and peer networks.

However, implementing web 2.0 technologies depends on following conditions: Web 2.0 functionality, their fitness for particular activities - fit for the purpose- and the users' knowledge of the tools used. (B) the beliefs and attitudes toward web 2.0 technologies ( C) The users' knowledge and skills in creating and sharing knowledge (D) providing support and appropriate guidelines for using web 2.0 technologies and the role of teachers and their abilities to encourage students to create and share their knowledge.( E) A culture of openness

(A)Web 2.0 Functionality

The university of Wolverhampton implemented the web 2.0 technology in learning resource centre to keep students and academic staff up to date with electronic resources as well as share their ideas together through blog technology .One of the main findings in the evaluation of the web 2.0 technology according to Jo Alcock, Wolverhampton's Learning resource Librarian, was the lack of awareness and uncertainty about using web 2.0 technology. He says that ''there is a need for advocacy of the benefits''. He states that one of the barriers in using web 2.0 is the resistance to change, particularly among senior managers. Furthermore, he explains that implementing web 2.0 require a change in our culture. Web 2.0 technologies require a great time to explore the potential of web 2.0 in promoting teaching and learning. Pelgrum (2003) states that adequate time are needed for teachers to develop new skills. The motivation of teachers to spend time beyond the call of duty is important in using technology. Teachers have important role to create activities to get students think about benefits of web 2.0 technology. A number of studies indicate that there is correlation between perceived ease of use & percieved usefulness and use of technology ( eg Davis 1989). Therefore, if teachers perceive that web 2.0 technologies are beneficial for promoting students' learning, they are likely to use them in their classroom.

Furthermore, the University of Warwick found that some students used the blog for social activity while others used it for academic writing. The students used the blog in different ways to meet their needs. Thus, web 2.0 support diverse needs of personal learning. This different uses of blogs supports the potential benefits of using blogs as a tool for personal learning.

(B) Beliefs and attitudes

Brown and Adle (2008) argue that web 2.0 technology requires a shift in attitude towards knowledge construction and learning among the university faculty.There are some factors, which might encourage and motivate teachers: providing resources for teachers to use the tools, participating regularly in professional interaction and activities and supporting social software activities. According to social cognitive theory (Bandura, 2001), the encouragement and positive feedback from others can influence the individual's belief concerning the ability to success on specific tasks. Furthermore, he states that prior experience is a key factor in using technology.Teachers who knows little about using social software applications unlikely to use them. On the other hand, teachers who have experience in using the tools are likely to use them.

(C) Skills and knowledge

The case studies indicate that participants' knowledge and skills are important in the success of collaborative activities facilitated by web 2.0. Dillenbourg (1999) identified four approaches which can increase interaction among learners. First, he argues that designing an appropriate condition is important to develop interaction among learners, and every situation requires different condition. For example, 'should the teacher organise students into groups or let students themselves get into groups' depend on different situation and careful plans. Second, in a collaborative learning, it is important for teachers to set up rules for interaction for example 'everybody in the group should give his or her opinion'. Third, teachers need to monitor the interaction between students and provide comments, Fourth, the teachers need to define a clear specification of roles within collaboration activities. Although the rules and conditions are important in order to develop interaction among learners, individual members of groups should learn and understand the need of working in a group in order to complete their tasks.

D Culture of openness

The success of web 2.0 technology in education requires profound changes in culture and above all the aim of education. Implementing web 2.0 technologies also depends on collaboration and expressing our ideas freely without control. This also requires social encouragements and a culture of working openly that has strategic benefits in teaching and learning.


This study uses the examples of wiki and blog technology to understand how it could be used to facilitate learning among students. Specifically, I study a number of cases to understand how web 2.0 strategies can be used to support learning in academic settings. .The initial findings suggest that web 2.0 technology support collaboration and sharing knowledge. However, implementing web 2.0 technologies in education need (a) careful analysis of user needs for web 2.0 technology, (B) assess what teachers do, why do, and how they do it, (C) assess what teachers want to achieve and (D) assess how they may be able to achieve their objectives using web 2.0 technology. Therefore, using web 2.0 technologies requires conditions: new forms of pedagogy in teaching and learning, encouraging collaboration, systematically evaluating students' needs and activities. A number of studies have reported that some teachers encountered with many problems in integrating web 2.0 technologies in their teaching and learning. These problems include minimal communication, poor quality reflection on the course materials and so on. In reviewing many failed reform efforts in education, fullan (1993) concluded that the hardest problem is to build successful collaboration among teachers, students and other professionals.