Web 2.0 in Education

Mar 1, 2008

After watching the webcast of the TEDPrize talks this morning, I checked out Once Upon a School, and saw this idea: Help a school develop a useful website presence.

That got me thinking. I’m not sure about America, but over here in Singapore, most schools don’t have much of a web presence. And most schools aren’t making the most of web tools. And reading that basically got me thinking about how schools could make better use of web (or Web 2.0) tools.

The first idea that came to mind is Twitter. Those of you who are on Twitter (and if you’re not, you really should be) would have seen how it has been used during the Superbowl, the Oscars, and even during Podcamps and various events. It provides a way to have live discussions – live ‘commentary’, if you will – about the ongoing event. Couldn’t we transfer the way Twitter is used in Podcamps to the education system – for use during lectures, for example?

That’s just the first, most instinctive idea that came to mind. What do you think? And what other ways do you think schools can make use of Web 2.0 tools?

Data Portability and Your Personal Brand

Jan 14, 2008

The biggest news of the last week has been about Data Portability. After Robert Scoble got banned (temporarily) from Facebook, a huge debate was sparked about who owns the data. And a few days ago, Google, Facebook and Plaxo all joined the DataPortability group.

I didn’t want to write much about it, because I couldn’t really decide on what it meant for you as an individual. But I just wanted to point you to Mitch Joel’s post: Should You Be Frightened By What Facebook And Google Know About Your Personal Brand?. It’s a good article about the whole issue, and what it means for your personal brand. Great insights (as usual) from Mitch, and worth the read.

Friday Flip-through: Cult of the Amateur

Jan 11, 2008

I haven’t posted a Friday Flip-through for quite a while, mainly because I haven’t really read anything new, until now. But this book is as good a book as any to come back with.

The Cult of the Amateur” is a book that has gotten a lot of press coverage, and started a lot of conversations in the social media realm. So I’m glad to have finally gotten a copy of it.

My take on it? It’s an intriguing book, that’s for sure. He presents an interesting theory. I can’t say I agree with it, but it’s definitely something to think about.

Being quite involved in the social media realm, though I can’t say I agree with what he writes. I won’t go into the factual fallacies as much as Larry Lessig did (there’s plenty of that on the web already), but I do want to talk about the general point.

The thing about Web 2.0 – wikis, blogs, etc – is not that it takes away trust from the experts. It’s that it gives everyone the chance to contribute. It levels the playing field, such that everyone can be an expert, by interacting with and learning from experts. I myself am testimony to this. I won’t consider myself an expert in any of this yet, but I am learning. Without Web 2.0, there’s no way a 17 year old from Singapore could connect with the likes of Seth Godin, Mitch Joel, Chris Brogan, Connie Reece, etc; the list is endless. That’s the true value of Web 2.0 – it opens the playing field.

Yes, I do agree that in some things (scientific areas, for example), we need experts to help. But the thing about Web 2.0 is that the experts do have a part in it. On Wikipedia (an example that Keen pointed out a lot), experts can – and do – participate. It’s just not exclusive, and that’s certainly not a bad thing. Even experts are fallible, as shown by how Wikipedia found errors in Encyclopedia Britannica.

The other thing I want to point out is how Keen argues that Web 2.0 is taking away jobs. Well, that might be true. But that’s true for any revolution, isn’t it? For progress to be made, risks have to be taken, things have to change. You can’t have progress if you want to protect the status quo. The industrial revolution took away the jobs of many farmers as well, didn’t it? Society needs to adapt to the progress, and move forward as well, not try to go against it.

Yes, there are problems and questions that need to be sort out. For example, anonymity is still a big problem, one that Seth Godin pointed out 3 years ago. But the extent of Keen’s criticism is overly extreme, if you ask me.

What do you think? What are the strengths/shortcomings of Web 2.0?

Facebook Update

Jan 11, 2008

Apparently Facebook is about to announce 3 new important features.

I think the first update is going to be really significant. It’s something I alluded to a couple of posts ago, and I’m glad to see this being done. This could be a big step towards really developing a ‘friendship’ model that reflects life more accurately. Especially since Facebook is (arguably) the leader in networks, it might spur other networks into doing something similar as well.

Either way, it’s just nice to see developments in this area.