Friday, September 28, 2007

tt4t_005 What is Web 2.0? - Episode 5

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It’s Friday September 28, 2007 and welcome to Episode 5 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom.

This week I would like to pull back a bit from our previous discussions about Google Docs and discuss a term that I am getting more and more questions about. That term is Web 2.0. What is Web 2.0 and what does it mean for educators? Well most likely you have been using Web 2.0 technologies for quite a while now without even realizing it. Dale Dougherty, web pioneer and Vice President of O'Reilly Media is given credit for coining the phrase Web 2.0 at an O'Reilly and MediaLive International conference in 2004. The term was then used to describe the second generation of Web applications that were beginning to appear after the dot com bust of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s

Web 2.0 represents a shift from the personal use of web technologies to more collaborative uses of web technologies. I have provided a link in the show notes to the O’Reilly Media website that gives a good overview about how the term was conceived. Since that time the term has entered our popular culture and has been modified in all areas of life to describe the next generation of technological advancement. You see terms like Business 2.0 and School 2.0 in the media to describe how new Web 2.0 tools are changing the way we do business and also changing the way we educate our children.

In simplest terms my definition of Web 2.0 is based on two words Read/Write, that’s WRITE. The read/write web has enabled millions of users to participate and publish information very easily with the click of the mouse. No more having to learn HTML coding or learning how to upload files using FTP programs. The ease of use aspect of Web 2.0 is very important and a new set of technologies are being developed to make the web browser act more and more like a desktop computer operating system. Two developments are enabling this shift. First is the increasing availability of high-speed broadband access to the Internet and secondly is the use of new toolsets based on AJAX that allow programmers to develop applications that can be delivered to a web browser but act like a desktop operating system. For those that want to know AJAX stands for Asynchronous Java Script and XML and a link is provided in the show notes if you would like to learn more. Do not let the vocabulary and acronyms scare you away. Web 2.0 technologies are very easy to use and offer powerful new methods of communicating and collaborating and we are just in the beginning stages of Web 2.0 possibilities.

Do you use Web 2.0? Well if you are listening to this podcast, you are using Web 2.0 If you read or write a blog, or have your own wiki you are using Web 2.0. The past two episodes of Techtalk4teachers have discussed Google Docs and Spreadsheets, Web 2.0 Do you use social bookmarking sites like or Digg, Web 2.0 Do you use Ficker or some other photo sharing site? Web 2.0 Do you use Skype or some other Voice over IP technology to make phone calls or video conference calls? Web 2.0 Do you use Wikipedia? Web 2.0 Do you use You Tube or Teacher Tube? Web 2.0 Do you use My Space, Facebook, or Friendster? Web 2.0 There are hundreds more but most likely you are already using Web 2.0 tools without realizing it. The key to all of these applications is that they provide you a way to easily share and collaborate with others. You can read the contents of others or if you choose you may write your own content and become the author. Web 2.0 is truly Read and Write. Never before have so many had the capability to participate and have a voice in a worldwide community.

If all of this is new to you do not feel left behind because most of the applications just mentioned did not exist five years ago. We have come to a confluence in technology that is marrying high-speed Internet access with browser-based applications that is changing the rules that we have been living with since the invention of the first PC’s in the mid 1970’s. We are moving from the desktop to the webtop and this journey has just begun. Webtop applications are currently in a primitive state but over time they will evolve into more sophisticated applications indistinguishable from desktop operating systems. In a way we have come full circle and are going back to the future with more of a mainframe computer type approach. I do believe Web 2.0 tools will improve overtime but schools must have 99.9% reliable high-bandwidth networks if teachers and students are to truly integrate these technologies into the classroom.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
It’s time for Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week and this weeks pick is the CIA World Factbook. If you are looking for an updated source of information about any country in the world including government information, demographics, and maps then be sure to visit the CIA World FactBook website. Yes, it is from the Central Intelligence Agency. A link is provided in the show notes.

CIA World FactBook

Many of the maps are in Adobe PDF format and therefore you can use the magnifying glass in Adobe Acrobat Reader to zoom in on an area of the map you would like to highlight for a particular lesson. The site is updated regularly and contains a wealth of information and all of this is free for the browsing.

As a reminder to listeners I will be giving two presentations at the ROE Tech Conference on Friday Oct 5th called School 2.0 Teacher tools for the next generation at Charleston High School. Please stop by my session if you are there to learn more about individual Web 2.0 applications and their use in classrooms. I would love to hear from you and get your opinion on how to improve this show so why not drop me an email at and let me know what you are thinking.

I would also like to thank Vish for posting the first official comment in this Blog for Episode 4. Thank You Vish! Vishone pointed out that Google does have single-sign on for users of google applications like Google docs and blogger That really helps cut down on the number of userID’s and passwords required. There still remains the problem of having a different Flickr account, a different eBay account, a different Skype account, a different account, a different Digg account and the list goes on and on. I have also received a couple of emails to addressed to and I appreciate your comments, let me know what you are interested in and we will do our best to produce a show around that content.

That wraps it up for another episode so until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

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