What is eLearning 2.0? April 23, 2007Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: Design, Development, eLearning
There’s been a lot of talk about this new thing called eLearning 2.0. What is it? When is it coming? What tools will I need to make it work? These were my thoughts as I headed to The eLearning Guild’s 2007 Annual Gathering conference in Boston a few weeks ago. Well, I think I’ve finally got it all sorted out.
Before we jump into eLearning 2.0, let’s discuss the idea of Web 2.0. If you haven’t heard this marvelous buzzword by now, let me explain: Web 2.0 is the term used to define the next generation of web sites and web applications that allow for more contribution and collaboration from users. Tools like del.icio.us, Wikipedia, and craigslist are examples of Web 2.0 sites. Note that Web 2.0 “…does not refer to an update to Internet or World Wide Web technical specifications, but to changes in the ways the platform is used.” (Web 2.0 definition on Wikipedia)
During a session at the eLearning Guild conference, Tony O’Driscoll put it this way: “Web 1.0 was the democratization of information (content). Web 2.0 is the democratization of participation.” His quote made complete sense to me. The debut of the Web allowed everybody to access information; content was provided to us and we consumed it. Now things have changed. With Web 2.0, we can more easily share our knowledge and experiences with each other via the web. A shining example of this is Wikipedia; users add, edit, and delete entries to maintain an amazingly large and (fairly) accurate information system. Talk about synergy.
What a second… Couldn’t this lead to inaccurate or inappropriate content being posted on a site? Is this reliable? Are these types of sites used for serious, important purposes? These are good questions. For publicly available systems, such as Wikipedia, the truly dedicated users of the system monitor and guard it; it’s their baby and they protect it as best as they can. For systems that are implemented internally (for example, at a corporation or university), I believe there would be an administrator or team responsible for monitoring and maintaining information. It’s an assumed risk that there could be issues; however, the risk appears to be worth the reward for many people. I suppose it ultimately depends on your needs and your organization’s needs.
Let’s get back to the eLearning world. With eLearning 1.0, information was prepared and delivered to the user, as if we were filling an empty glass. Communication was one-way. The idea of eLearning 2.0 is to harness and utilize each learner’s knowledge and experience so that everybody can benefit from it. To achieve this next level of learning, you can tools such as wikis, blogs, and social bookmarking. These tools allow each learner to contribute their knowledge on a specific theme, design problem, or subject area, depending on how the learning experience is structured.
I think the eLearning 2.0 movement has great intentions, but I can’t see a mass exodus from existing eLearning strategies. I think these tools and ideas will be a great supplement to existing eLearning courses and curriculums, but I personally don’t see enough structure and organization for them to stand alone. Let’s take a simple scenario: learning a new software package. While a wiki may be helpful for learners to compare notes and share their experiences regarding the software, we’ll still need a basic introductory course on how to use the software, right? We shall see.