Steve Ember with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today we finish our
three-part series about communications.
first two programs we discussed the history and importance of communicating
information. We talked about the
development of the Internet. This has made it possible for almost anyone with a
computer to share in what is called the Information Age.
shows that the Internet's World Wide Web is especially popular with young
people. As a result, colleges and
universities are recognizing the learning gains that can be made with Web-based
instructional technology. For example,
George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia offers its professors training in
instructional technology. G.M.U.
teachers can learn how to use the latest Web tools to improve their
is an instructional designer at the university. He says the education profession has entered the Web 2.0
period. He says Web 2.0 is a marketing
term that defines a renewal of the Web since the start of the twenty-first
century. Any kind of Web-driven tool
that is interesting, useful, easy to learn and free is Web 2.0, says Rick Reo.
tool is a social networking service. This is a Web site that helps people find others like themselves,
create personal identities, exchange resources and work together. Facebook and MySpace are two social networking
Web sites popular in the United States and around the world.
is a nonprofit organization that supports the use of information technology in
education. The group says up to ninety
percent of American college students have created Facebook Web sites. Social
networking sites also provide teachers a way to reach their students outside of
the classroom. Rick Reo says students
use Facebook or MySpace as often as they check their university e-mail.
bookmarking is another Web 2.0 technology that has many educational uses. Professors can use the tool when doing
personal research. It can also add to
classroom learning. When you save the
address of a Web site that you want to visit again on your computer, you are
bookmarking it. Social bookmarking
sites let people store collections of bookmarks. These can be shared with other people or made private.
bookmark a Web site, you also tag the site with descriptive words. For example, you might tag the
voaspecialenglish.com Web site with the words: English, teaching, learning,
news and information. Tags help users
organize their bookmarks. Users can
also see how many other people have used a tag. And they can search for all resources that have been given that
says social bookmarking is especially useful when creating a collection of resources
to be shared with others. A biology
teacher, for example, might ask her students to bookmark Web sites about
flowers and plants. The students work
collectively to create the list. When
it is finished, the students have a group of resources that will help them
finish their project.
Podcasting is also a very popular
instructional technology. The term was
invented with the Apple company's iPod in mind. IPods are small digital audio
players that permit users to download music from their computer directly to the
device for listening later.
podcasting no longer relates only to the iPod. It involves any software and hardware combination that permits the user
to download audio files and control when those files are heard. Anyone with a
modern computer can create, make available and download a podcast from the
also makes education transportable. Teachers can make their talks, or lectures, available to students who
miss the class. Podcasts also let
students hear what other experts have to say. Remember that biology teacher who asked her students to bookmark Web
sites about flowers and plants? She
might also ask her students to report about that collection of resources in a
Rick Reo says George Mason is one of many "iTunes
universities" around the world. Apple has opened its iTunes store to universities. Podcasts created by the schools are stored
on Apple's computer servers. Anyone can
download the free educational material at Apple's iTunes store. Stanford, Yale, Duke, and the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology are other universities offering audio and video
are fed to computers using a technology called RSS. Many creators of information on the Internet offer it directly to
people using RSS feeds. Our biology
teacher example might ask her students to register for RSS feeds from five
popular science Web sites. To receive
those feeds, students need to register for a free RSS reader, or aggregator. Google and MyYahoo both offer RSS
students register for a free RSS reader, a connection has to be made between
the reader and the student's favorite science Web sites. Establishing these connections is called
subscribing. It is easy to do. Just
look for an RSS sign on the site.
RSS technology helps people easily get new material from Web sites that
interest them. Did you know that
Special English offers RSS feeds? You
can find a link to RSS on our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
have also become a popular Web 2.0 technology in education. Let us go back to our biology class. Suppose the teacher decided to take her
class on a camping trip to collect plants and flowers. The students would need to work collectively
to decide what to bring on the trip. A
wiki can help. A wiki is a Web site where anyone can create, edit or change
information collected on the site. Audio, video and pictures can be added to a wiki as well.
popular wiki on the Internet is Wikipedia.
It is a free encyclopedia of information about people, places, things,
events and ideas that anyone can write, add to or edit. Wikipedia was launched in two thousand
one. Today, it includes more than ten
million articles in more than two hundred fifty languages. More than two
million articles are in English. Each
article offers links to other Wikipedia articles or to other Web
Educause reports that Wikipedia is the eighth most
visited Web site in the United States. College students use it as a main research tool. However many schools look at the tool with a
critical eye. That is because a person can put incorrect information on
Wikipedia. The history school at
Middlebury College, for example, has banned Wikipedia in student research. The ban was ordered after several students
repeated the same wrong information from a Wikipedia article.
Other universities are
using Wikipedia to teach students how to write without expressing an
opinion. At Columbia University in New
York City, professors have had their students create or edit Wikipedia articles
to learn how to write in a neutral way.
the best known form of Web 2.0 activity is the Web log, or blog for short. There are reportedly more than one hundred
million blogs around the world. A blog is an online collection of personal
comments and links to other Web sites. Anyone can create a blog using sites like blogger.com or wordpress.com. Bloggers often work together in small communities.
They read each other's posts, link to them or report what other bloggers
individual post on a blog can become a discussion through comments left by
readers. There are personal blogs,
political blogs and entertainment blogs, just to name a few. In higher
education, professors use blogs to communicate their opinions or to create a
discussion with other educators. Students are also using blogs for personal expression or as part of
are many other ways that information technology can be used in education. We have only reported about a few of
them. For example, there are virtual
worlds and gaming, Web-based self-publishing and photo-sharing. When it comes
to information technology in higher education, Rick Reo at George Mason
University says the sky is the limit.
program was written by Jill Moss. It was produced by Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember.
Faith Lapidus. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special