Web 1.0 applications typically consist of browsing and searching on the Internet, essentially a reading operation. In contrast, Web 2.0 applications, such as wikis and weblogs, allow users to read and also to write to the Web. Building on the read/write applications that have emerged in rich, interactive, user-friendly application platform, Web 2.0 has essentially transformed the Web from a Web page publishing venue to a global network community where every user is invited to create content. The Web’s shift from a tool of reference to one of collaboration, from passive to active, from consumer- to participant-oriented, allows teachers to use these tools to empower students and create exciting new learning opportunities.
The Web 2.0 applications hold profound potentials in education because of their open nature, ease of use and support for effective collaboration and communication. They change the traditional view of human knowledge and open up more opportunities in teaching and learning. Teachers can use Web 2.0 tools attract students’ attention and enhance their learning experiences. Today, over several hundreds of the Web 2.0 applications are available and have potentials in teaching and learning. Some of these tools include: podcasts (i.e., iTunes), Weblogs (i.e., Blogger), wikis (i.e., Mediawiki, PBWiki), social bookmarking tools (i.e., del.icio.us) , social networking tools (i.e., EduSpace, Facebook, MySpace), social media sharing tools (i.e., Flickr, SlideShare, YouTube), collaborative writing tools (i.e., Google docs, Zoho), virtual 3D community (i.e., Second Life), social library tools (i.e, LibraryThing), and Customized portals (i.e, Pageflakes, Protopage).
The “digital native” students have already found social networking tools integral to daily life. Marc Prensky pointed out from his article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, “Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.” I think we should consider moving teaching and learning away from conventional methods by which students are told what to learn, when, where, and how. Instead, knowledge should be actively constructed and students should be made responsible for their own learning. The opportunity for instant and global publication of information, thoughts, opinions, and ideas is something our “digital native” students take for granted as normal and commonplace. Perhaps, we should also consider some of the social networking tools and integrate these tools in teaching and learning.