Monday, April 6, 2009

Web 2.0 & Cloud Computing

“It isn’t a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for.”
- Benjamin Mays

When I think of Web 2.0, I think of innovative web-based tools such as wikis, blogs, social networking and social bookmarking sites to name a few. One of the common aspects that separate Web 2.0 tools from the first introduction of web sites is the provision for reading and writing content seamlessly. Thus, many refer to Web 2.0 as the read-write web. The Internet as we know it today, promotes information retrieval and contribution, connectivity, communication, collaboration and co-construction among users. Tools such as RSS feeds (really simple syndication) are used to alert readers when changes occur to specified web content to help retrieve data. In social bookmarking sites, users can store and share data according to multiple descriptive phrases or tags, providing a non-linear and non-hierarchical categorization or aggregation of data. In blogs, posts are archived and stored in chronological order by date. Generally, anyone can contribute, comment or provide feedback on blog entries. In a wiki community, users connect and communicate with each other. They can redo or undo each other’s work and collaboratively build collective knowledge. Connections are paramount in the construction of knowledge.

Where is all this data stored? The cloud can be used as a metaphor for the Internet. Cloud computing refers to the data centres that store all the common data that is not stored locally on your own computer. Whenever you create an account on many of the Web 2.0 sites, you are in fact storing your content off site or virtually. This is what many refer to as “cloud computing.” The images in the clouds seem to shape and define one another; they are often continuously joined images with various parts connected with no identifiable centre. A cloud based work environment is often used to describe technological tools that enable collaboration, connections and co-construction of knowledge, such as Web 2.0 tools.

How do Web 2.0 tools and cloud based work environments shape your narrative for 21st century learning? You may consider reading the article, Orchestrating the Media Collage by Jason Ohler (2009) and think about the eight guidelines provided for teachers in using Web 2.0 as a social web. The guidelines that can help teachers promote the crucial skills associated with digital literacy include:
1. Shift from text centrism to media collage.
2. Value writing and reading now more than ever.
3. Adopt art as the next R.
4. Blend traditional and emerging literacies.
5. Harness report and story.
6. Practice private and participatory social literacy.
7. Develop literacy with digital tools and about digital tools.
8. Pursue fluency.

I would also recommend viewing Learning to Change Changing to Learn – (5:35) Teacher Tube video clip about change. What is your narrative about 21st century learning?