There are many ways of categorising web tools, as many features can overlap and services can change and be enhanced over time. The pace of these changes to services and features is something which is challenging to those in any fields let alone teaching. Neil Selwyn’s ‘Education 2.0’ commentary from the UK’s Teaching and Learning Research Programme offers a contextual categorisation of social web (aka web 2.0)services. See: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/10006217/1/Selwyn2008education.pdf
Selwyn’s taxonomy is based on four human dispositions which the different technologies support:
Expressive (media creation and sharing) – This includes tools for creating, editing, mixing, sharing and re-purposing creative output including videos, audio and animation (e.g. YouTube, Flickr , Slideshare and Vimeo). As well as providing platforms for free storage and publication of large files the sites include opportunities to control access, to tag content for searching, ‘hit counters’, and to allow comments, rating and feedback.
Reflective (blogging, wikis and social networking), The use of blogs and wikis in education is relatively well established and supports existing pedagogies of reflective writing (the blog) and teamwork (the wiki).
Exploratory (social bookmarking, syndication RSS, folksonomies), and social web tools can support research and inquiry in a range of ways including social bookmarking, annotation and reference management services (e.g. Diigo, CiteULike), and news feeds (RSS, Atom).
Playful (games and virtual worlds). We have seen a huge surge in games based learning for young learners and many websites offer learner online games to reinforce learning.
There are many tools availabe on the internet which can’t be all listed here however for a comprehensive list of the types of learning tools there are and which can be used can be found under Jane Hart’s website: Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies (C4LPT): A resource site for the use of new technologies for working and learning
Find out more about tools in our Extending ELT section
Blogs, Wikis and Podcasting
Blogs and Wikis are web tools that allow you to share and collaborate on the internet. A blog is short for a web log and can be a useful tool for recording reflections, personal experiences, opinions, to reporting or making commentary on event. Blog entries are displayed in reverse order with recent entries showing first. There are over 66 million blogs on the internet (Technorati, 2007) and some of the most popular blogs are created using WordPress and Blogger. Prinicipally a blog usually assumes one author but it iis possible to add other users to your blog and set permissions as appropraite. We have our DMU commons for which you can easily get set up to have a blog for yourself and your students in WordPress. You can also create blogs in Blackboard and these can be used in a number of ways as personal spaces between you and the student, course blogs open to all on the Blackboard module and you can even create group blogs for group work.
A wiki is basically a website made up of website pages edited by anyone who has access to it. A wiki can be created by an individual or shared among a group of individuals. Typically a wiki tool has many useful features including : tracking version history, version comparison, discussion pages and automatic page edit alerts. You can create wikis in Blackboard and they can be used for many areas of teaching. Both blogs and wikis give you the option of having a text editor which allows you to enrich your content through adding images and video and links to other resources and much more.
Podcasts are audio or video recordings that are downloaded automatically by software on subscriber’s computers every time a new edition is posted on a website. Easy to produce and distribute, the consumer can, and often does, turn creator. See: Wikipedia Podcasting Definition.
The below slideshare presentation by Megan Poore presents these social web in a learning context: