Coleman's expressions

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Social software and web 2.0 are new terms that are being tossed about in the realm of educational technology these days. I’ve not only defined them (social software, web 2.0), but I’ve used them on a daily basis in the last four months, and I’m still not sure I truly understand the depth of their meaning nor their influence. That feeling is both disappointing and challenging, but it seems my neurons keep flashing in so many chaotic directions that I can’t corral my thoughts for a succinct concept.

The reason this appears so urgent is that these new ideas not only transform our present and future way of life in general, but they absolutely need to be a part of our curriculum and learning environments now!
Alexander (2006) writes of using social bookmarking in post secondary education (among other things – great article) and I wonder how many people are even aware of, much less use it (or similar tool) to its full advantage. Add on tagging and RSS feeds to the basic concept and there’s a whole new world of resources and potential conversation – what a springboard for learning and understanding! This is only the tip of the iceberg as one explores the tools of blogs (check out this post about the future of blogging!), wikis, other collaborative writing tools (i.e., writely) to create and construct knowledge and understanding.

Alas, there are danger warnings that accompany these tools. For example, students need to have some parameters in creation – to include recognizing the public nature of social software (it is so very easy for all of us to view the contents of the computer screen as private when in fact the opposite if web-based) and making appropriate decisions regarding the use of knowledge-builders (i.e., privacy, safety and copyright issues). But can we as educators continue “business as usual” when our society is undergoing such a transformation? As mentioned in my introduction, I know I don’t have complete understanding (and maybe never will), but I know that as educational leaders we need to explore these tools and continue to keep our eyes on the horizon for emerging technologies that will influence our world (and our students)!

Alexander, B. (2006). Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning? Educause Review. 41, (2), pp. 32-44. Retreived April 9, 2006 from


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