This commentary is in response to Alexander’s Article Web 2.0 and Emergent Literacies as referenced below. Alexander begins by outlining the changes in current student experiences in learning through technological advances as compared to the past. He states that students are increasingly accepting these new kinds of technology driven information structures and the literacies that flow from them. Alexander describes Web 2.0 as the current strategy in which students develop their emerging multiliteracies. As described by the author, such strategies may be comprised of the following components: social software/networking, microcontent and social filtering. The author believes that educators need and have begun developing new ways of teaching with these technologies to allow further student development.
Web 2.0’s lowered barrier to entry may influence a variety of cultural forms with powerful implications for education, from storytelling to classroom teaching to individual learning (Alexander, 2006). With greater access to Web 2.0 software, more and more individuals can now take increased ownership of their learning, as there is greater personal relevancy in the required work that is undertaken. Through responding to other individual’s works and to have their own work commented on allows individuals to process information at a greater level of engagement. Further, social media applications have aided in educating large numbers of people because information spreads easily from person to person and because it facilitates conversations through blogging, video-sharing, and being able to comment on Web-based materials (Mason & Rennie, 2007). However, an area of concern is that of lack of physical social interactions occurring concurrently with social media applications in the educational setting. Today’s classrooms are highly interactive and students in both small group and whole class discussions are encouraged to contribute their thoughts and ideas. In this manner, provided there is time any individual may add their “content” just as the openness of Web 2.0 allows. Today’s students are open-minded, knowledgeable risk takers and I believe that this is largely due to highly collaborative classrooms. What would occur if educators were to move more towards online and perhaps less in the physical educational setting? Would the reluctant speaker participate more in the digital world? Would the students’ oracy decline? Are we physically isolating students? Further, how do we insure on-line privacy and security of students’ work? While there is without argument a global reach and a highly collaborative environment where learning occurs, how can the physical social interactions be developed as one would find in an interactive classroom setting?
With the many benefits of Web 2.0 discussed in terms of educational value, another advantage may be offered. Social networking provides an opportunity for students to offer, contribute and learn from other participants as well as from the educator. As a result of this fluidity in the co-authoring of information, this may provide an alternative to the increasing costs of textbooks etc. as information may be presented, discussed and modified online. Due to decreased costs, education can be affordable to a greater number of individuals while the minimum requirement would simply be Internet access.
The issue of copyright is a topic that is not fully addressed by Alexander in terms of the Web 2.0. movement. While Alexander (2008) concedes that the copying, remixing and altering of digital content goes against the grain of copyright, little more is mentioned. Copyright is an issue that has been well debated and challenged since the creation of rights to works. With the ever-increasing ease of access to works on the Internet, it is crucially important to recognize works under copyright. While organizations such as the Creative Commons acts to increase the amount of creativity made freely available to the public by providing easy to use standardized legal tools to restrict or share their work with others, further clarification and/or education is required. As educators explore and develop new ways of teaching with the Web 2.0 movement, the inclusion of copyright should be part of their own education and certainly to those of their students. Copyright has been an issue since the idea of rights to works and most certainly will continue to be a topic of discussion as we proceed further with new technologies and practices.
Alexander next discusses Web 2.0 and its relation to gaming and he states that games generate content and that this content constitutes an increasing proportion of the informational world for students. Other scholars such as Gee (2005) believe that good video games incorporate good learning principles, principles supported by current research in cognitive science. Gee (2005) also believes that the simple act of playing a game while being challenged and learning assists in the application of the knowledge and therefore the “content” is learned. The idea of gaming in education I believe is an area of contention as many educators may have difficulty accepting it as an educational tool. While the benefits are discussed in the article, further educator training and assistance in deeming what is appropriate in assessing the content is required. Only then will the comfort level of the educator allow for the inclusion of games in the educational setting.
While we are in the midst of the Web 2.0 movement, students are readily accepting and utilizing what it currently has to offer. They are adapting, learning and developing the literacies, which arise from Web 2.0. As educators, it is paramount to seize the opportunity to learn and support the development of such multiliteracies. However, as the digital age continues to evolve, so will the definition of literacy itself as well the concept of multiliteracies as further forms of communications arise.
Alexander, Bryan. (2008). Web 2.0 and Emergent Multiliteracies. Theory into Practice, 47, 150-160.
Alexander, Bryan. (2006). Web 2.0 A New Wave of Innovation for Teaching and Learning? EDUCAUSE Review, 41(2), 32-44.
Creative Commons. Retrieved from http://www.creativecommons.org
Gee, James. (2005). Good Video Games and Good Learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85(2), 33-37.
Mason, R., & Rennie, F. (2007). Using Web 2.0 for learning in the community. The Internet and Higher Education, 10(3), 196-203.