Is Web 2.0 a Relevant Term?

On the third day of NECC, I attended a panel discussion led by Steve Hargadon the founder ofClassroom2.0. The panel consisted of 6 educators who are pretty well known in the educational technology world.

The general theme was to explore the topic of Web 2.0 and how effectively it’s being used in schools. Each of the panelists, along with many people in attendance are heavily involved in social media, using blogs and wikis, and belong to a huge Twitter community of educators. The discussion was met with some push back from an attendee. The panel was asked to define Web 2.0 and was chastised for focusing on the backchannel. It became quickly apparent that not everyone that not everyone was up to speed with the terminology and the impact on education social media has made. I’m not even sure if anyone who would be considered a “newbie” got the point of the whole discussion.

It’s the push back that helped me learn. Those of us who have been involved in social media, blogs, wikis, Nings, Twitter…have to understand that the terminology is confusing and the concept can be overwhelming. One doesn’t learn Web 2.0, and there is no real definition – only characteristics. The fact of the matter is at this point in time, the web is the web user created content so prevalent that anyone who uses the Internet uses Web 2.0.

Here are a few examples:
  • Check your email using Yahoo? Yahoo news features articles that have had the most “votes” and accepts comments on articles from the readership.
  • Purchase anything from online stores like Amazon or Target? Other shoppers can create lists and comment about and rate comments.
  • Looking for recipes? All Recipes is an extremely popular website that accepts recipes from members of the site along with allowing it’s users to organize their favorites.
  • Do you have family members that share photos online? Sharing photos online is a great example of a practical use of social media.
  • Have you ever seen a YouTube video? As of earlier this year, YouTube has 100 million viewers. That amounts to about 15 millions videos a month.
  • Have you used Google to research any topic, particularly pop culture or current events? If you access any Wikipedia article, you are accessing a site that is based on the “wisdom of the crowds”.

So here’s the thing: The term Web 2.0 has been used since 2004. Five years later, the Internet has transformed to include user created content, connectedness, collaborative writing, consensus building, and the wisdom of the masses. So it might be time for us to retire the term Web 2.0 – it’s just a confusing term anyway. It’s time to understand how we are answering the question, “How are we getting our children involved in opportunities to create content on the Internet and use Internet tools to collaborate and share information and media for instructional purposes?”

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