Darren Mundy (Hull) gave us an introduction and his ideas of what differentiates web 2.0 from what has gone before, reminding us that Tim Berners-Lee always saw the web as a place to share but that perhaps this aspect is just greatly enhanced in a web 2.0 world. Observing that students may now possess the greater ability when it comes to technology in the classroom, what does that do to the position of the lecturer, how should they react? If students use the social web how can this be harnessed for teaching and learning?
Mark van Harmelen (Manchester) suggested that what defines web 2.0 is its emphasis on creating and sharing content. Nevertheless, the vast majority of web users would be passive with only a small percentage creating content or actively contributing towards it. He went on to talk about the fusing of the social and technical spheres within web 2.0 where the two could no longer be divided. Web 2.0 gives opportunities to work collaboratively and become more involved in their learning: ‘felt involved in a course for the first time’ was a telling student quote. A response to an audience question was that many web 2.0 tools were increasingly accessible to all practitioners, needing little or no technical expertise.
Science specific examples of web 2.0 use in higher education were provided by presentations from Nick Greeves of Liverpool and Clare Sansom of Birbeck.
Robert Consoli spoke about his HullUniLecturer project on YouTube. Of particular note was the institutional reaction to liability which acts as a cautionary tale for anyone contemplating similar work.
Steve Wheeler (Plymouth) challenged us with the idea that education needed to be transformed, examining the structure of post industrial revolution education and its need to fit children to their future in the world of work. Students today would not be entering the same world, yet the structure of education largely has not changed. The contrast was made between taxonomies and folksonomies, the blog and the wiki. Though students would use wikis within the classroom there was reluctance to use them outside; take-up required scaffolding and a critical mass of, but not too many, participants (lest cliques form).
Mark van Harmelen returned to give an overview of tips for using a range of web 2.0 tools including Delicious, GoogleDocs, GoogleReader, MediaWiki, Flickr, Skype and DimDim.
Darren Mundy returned to talk about the Wild Project, a initiative to network large groups through mobile technology.
Tweets associated with the event: http://search.twitter.com./search?q=heapsc
Event webpage (with the presentations that speakers have permitted the Centre to host): http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/physsci/events/detail/2009/making_web2_work_for_you
This event was organised partly based on the success of a previous event on the use of technology in education. Yes, you see those comments you leave on feedback forms really do count!