Web 2.0: A Game of Snakes and Ladders

Web 2.0 applications is something that I have been using and exploring for a good two years, so much so that I have created a web page on my website to keep on top of it all; I also use Netvibes as my personal and professional portal linking to loads of RSS feeds from news sources, blogs and academic journals. Whilst it would have been easier to plumb for one of those sites that I am already using and attach a viable teaching and learning dimension to it, much in the same way that Alexander (2006) does with del.icio.us, I opted to look at something new. I checked out Go2Web20, SEOmoz’s Web 2.0 2007 Awards and Webware to look for some inspiration and found myself quite literally drowning in a tsunami of choice.

I did find myself drawn towards the timelining tools such as Dandelife, Miomi, circaVie, TimeLine and OurStory, as I could see them being used in terms of autobiographical research, oral histories, creating historical timelines on a range of subjects and themes, etc. In fact, I liked the idea of looking for any “connectedness” that could be exposed or uncovered using the rather powerful visual interface. I chose Miomi (pronounced my-oh-my) in the end because it allowed me to associate events (or moments as they chose to call them) with people and places.

Whilst Web 2.0 becomes close to Tim Berners-Lee original vision of the World Wide Web as an all inclusive read/write tool, we are presented with a number of issues that we need to resolve or, at least, acknowledge; especially if we want to use them within the context of a teaching and learning resource. These include:

  • Copyright
  • Authorship
  • Identity
  • Ethics
  • Aesthetics
  • Rhetorics
  • May be free, but still usually licenced and may have to pay for extra services or to remove advertising
  • Privacy
  • Governance
  • Permanence
  • Reliability
  • Support
  • Accountability / Control
  • Accessibility
  • Commerce

We also have the issue, according to Ipsos MORI (2007), that students don’t do technology for technologies sake – if it is not clear how a piece of technology is being used within a teaching and learning context, they will not engage with it. Indeed, delegates at this year’s ALT-C conference were warned that our students were not as tech savvy as Prensky (2001) would suggest. Clearly we need to tread carefully as the path is fraught with opportunities and traps to paraphrase Davis (cited in Cousin, 2005).


Alexander, B., (2006). Web 2.0: a new wave of innovation for teaching and learning? Educause Review. 41(2).

Cousin, G., (2005). Learning from Cyberspace. In: Land, R. & Bayne, S. (eds). Education in Cyberspace. London: RoutledgeFalmer. pp. 117-129.

Ipsos MORI, (2007). Student Expectations Study: Findings from Preliminary Research. JISC [online]. Available at: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/publications/studentexpectationsbp.aspx [Accessed 16 October 2007].

Prensky, M., (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon. 9(5).