Try It First in Web 2.0

An intriguing development in Web 2.0 space: Educators, administrators, and students are experimenting in Web 2.0 space where experimentation is, mostly, less risky than in real life...


  - Darren Cambridge, a professor at George Mason University, sees students trying out their "network" selves in Facebook, Second Life, MySpace, chat, Linked In, del.icio.us, and other social networking sites. This "network" self, a construct in the virtual, then redounds to the development of their "symphonic" self, the real-life self, the fully-integrated "built-out" self: (see http://www.slideshare.net/dcambrid/networked-and-symphonic-selves/).


  - The Princeton Review creates a series of SAT strategy sessions in Second Life (SL) where students can "meet" and not only learn strategy for the SAT but also socialize with each other. This is not the full SAT preparation course series, but a kind of "reception" experience for students around the world to get an idea about SAT preparation. Ohio University hosts the strategy sessions on its SL campus.


  - At Northeastern University, a new space for faculty combining the Educational Technology Center and Teaching Center spaces is prototyped in SL to "test run" the actual physical space, which is in development at the campus. This way, the planning committee at Northeastern can try out different arrangements, visit the site as avatars, as can others, and see how the space works. A query on the EDUCAUSE Learning Space list asks list members to visit the SL site and, in particular, check out the positioning of a support beam that makes "the space seem unwelcoming." Imagine how much better for campus planning if planning committee members, rather than trying to visualize the space from blueprints, could see a 3D rendition of a space and visit that space!


  - A professor at Bentley College in Waltham, MA, is able to use Popfly, a Web 2.0 mashup application from Microsoft, to teach upper-level programming concepts to first-year students. Students are able to "try out" those programming concepts and see results because of the capabilities of Web 2.0.


Are these experiments replacing the classroom or the lab or the field experience? No. Web 2.0 can and does allow pathways and capabilities for learning that weren't there before the Web, but for the moment we see faculty and administrators using Web 2.0 to augment existing functions and learning practices. Higher education is more nimble and open to change than many believe it is.

About the Author

Trent Batson is the president and CEO of AAEEBL (http://www.aaeebl.org), serving on behalf of the global electronic portfolio community. He was a tenured English professor before moving to information technology administration in the mid-1980s. Batson has been among the leaders in the field of educational technology for 25 years, the last 10 as an electronic portfolio expert and leader. He has worked at 7 universities but is now full-time president and CEO of AAEEBL. Batson’s ePortfolio: http://trentbatsoneportfolio.wordpress.com/ E-mail: trentbatson@mac.com

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