Web 2.0- Just the Beginning Course Outline

Some definitions

  • Read the related blog entry
  • The wikipedia definition is very comprehensive.
  • Any computer application that is strictly browser based (Plug-ins may be necessary for the service OR enhance the service.)
  • Your work/data is stored “in the cloud” (Probably do not need your computer for access as long as you remember access (URL, UID password)

Part I. Why participate in Web 2.0
There any number of reasons to participate-- just to name a few:
  • Social networking – i.e. expand upon who you know
  • Stay current with the digital natives
  • Politics and Government 2.0
  • I have a hidden page here with more of my personal reasons ... but no fair peeking.

Activity I - Now that you have a team of folks, let's participate in a wiki.
As we kick off this coursework, there are two activities that would be appropriate. The result of both will be advantageous to all.
  1. Which Browser works best with wiki spaces? I have personally found that wiki spaces does not function as advertised with all browsers. So to help us, I started a wiki page where I have posted the results of the browsers I use. Now since there are a variety of platforms (i.e. OS X, Windows XP, Vista) and browsers (ie. Internet Explorer, Fixefox, Safari) for each platform , the part of the activity would be to add info to the table on that page of your browsers' experience. This info will help all to get over a technical hurdle for the best experience in the coursework.
  2. Why participate in Web 2.0? This question goes to the heart of "why the heck am I bothering with this course in the first place?". To begin, someone on your team will create a page (please use the WhyParticipate template) on the Web 2.0- Just the Beginning wiki. Then, throughout your participation in the course, each of you will begin to understand the why and, in turn, post your reasons for utilizing and participating in Web 2.0 applications. At the end of the course, all the teams will have a page of their own to share.
Part II. Finding, reading and subscribing to blogs of interest Folks start blogging for various reasons. In its basic form, a blog is like keeping a journal of daily activities. If George Orwell had access to the internet back in 1939 he probably would have created his diaries as at http://orwelldiaries.wordpress.com (interesting way to recycle produced content).
It's difficult to determine how many blogs are in the "blogoshpere". The website weblogs.com keeps all sorts of stats about blogs. As of this writing (3/6/2009) Since Apr 1, 2006 there have been over 4 Billion blogged entries.
Some examples of blog utilization are:
  • Recording a journal of events
  • A news organization reporting in various news areas (National, International, Sports)
  • Someone’s alternative spin on news and/or events
  • Mixing in Multimedia - i.e Audio, Video, Photos

Some vocabulary to help familiarize the topic
  • Blog Post - a periodic entry made by a blogger -- i.e. a journal entry
  • Labels or tags - a word or words that help categorize a blog post.
  • Comments - mostly made by readers of a blog. The idea is to solicit and welcome comments to gain readership
  • RSS feed reader - Real Simple Syndication - Software to aggregate all the blogs in which you have an interest.

Finding blog(s) that would be of one's interest is accomplished at Google (of course) http://blogsearch.google.com/ (if you are at a loss for topics try "personal learning network"). Bloglines http://www.bloglines.com/ is another alternative. It just so happens that Bloglines is a good site for both RSS aggregation and hosting your own blog as I have -- more later. Being in the educational community, I must mention edublogs. This is a free service that targets the educational community, so one is bound to find some good resources and ideas like http://theedublogger.edublogs.org/ or http://nnorris.edublogs.org/. there is also an endless list of educational bloggers at http://supportblogging.com/Links+to+School+Bloggers
Once you find blogs of interest, you can bookmark them and read them at your leisure. Of course, you will need to check each individually in a separate window of your browser, but there is a more efficient method -- use an RSS Feed aggregator (wikipedia definition). Short story goes like this:
  1. Find an RSS feed aggregator (there's a bunch see the RSS feed readers page for a few). This software can be browser based, a plugin for your browser, or a full blown application installed on your computer.
  2. Most blogs have a subscribe button on the blog site that will "connect" it with your feed reader.
  3. When all goes well, you will have all your blogs of interest aggregated so you will not have to visit each web site individually. In addition, the RSS reader will show when each of your subscribed blogs has a new entry.
  4. The down side of using a reader is that the RSS reader does not show the sidebar, header and other "bells and whistle" type content of the blog's regular website page. However, a click on the blog's title in the RSS reader takes you there.

Activity II - finding blogs and subscribing with an RSS feed reader
  1. Find 2-3 existing blogs of interest (over achievers (-; can go for more of course).
  2. Pick and utilize an RSS feed reader to aggregate the blogs for access
  3. As this is a team effort, share you experiences with fellow team members via your team's wiki page

Part III. Blogging Time to start your own blog.
Picking a topic of interest to write about is probably the most difficult. Hopefully, the blogs to which you subscribed in the prior activity will help. If you have a passion that you wish to share with others, you are halfway there. You may then continue this beyond the scope of this course. Don't be shy, you can delete the whole thing after the course is over. Our short term goal is to wrap our heads around the mechanics of starting and managing a blog. Pictures and other multimedia can be embedded on the blog entries to make this even more fun, and more importantly, satisfying other learning modalities.
Next pick a blogging service and registering. The hard part here is digging thru the vast amount of blogging services. I had suggested Bloglines because it serves a dual purpose of being an RSS reader and gives you the opportunity to start your own blog. I personally like Google's Blogger aka Blogspot -- the one I am using with this course. It has some add on features to add widgets and customize its look and feel. Both of these and the other popular blogging services have good instructions to get started once you have registered.

Activity III - Start a blog and make comments on each team member's blog.
  1. Register with a blogging service
  2. Make 2-3 posts to your blog
  3. Add pictures to the blog to illustrate
  4. Make a few comments on your team members blog.

Part IV. Beyond Blogs and Wikis
Blogs and Wiki's are just the tip of the Web 2.0 iceberg. But you will probably notice that 80% of the other Web 2.0 tools are really an extension or abbreviation of Blogs and wiki's. Some examples and my attempt to categorize these tools follow:
  • Blog-Like tools
    • Twitter- Currently, of great popularity. News services (i.e. CNN, Chicago Trib, NYTimes) are really grabbing onto this technology to build their readership. Some folks call Twitter a "micro-blog". Like a cell phone text message, you have 140 characters to say what you want. Every and anyone who surfs to twitter.com can read what you post which may or may not be of any meaning to them. The strategy though is to find folks with similar interests who you will "follow" and in turn "follow you" will will comprise a type of "social network". Now postings from folks you follow will tend to be more meaningful.
    • Pod-casting (audio and video) -- here is one that can be confusing if we look at it technically. You can imbed audio, photos, and videos in blog posts, but technically that is not pod-casting. This is really a Apple product with a different set of protocols. One must post these multimedia files on a pod-casting server which works in concert with iTunes to subscribe to the content on these servers.
    • Youtube- You post your videos but you can use an RSS feed reader to subscribe to a users list of video posts
  • Multimedia production
    • Youtube- yep i listed it again
    • Fliggo - A great alternative to Youtube wherby a lot of SD's block Youtube. Fliggo allows you to create your site with your videos and/or copy selected content from Youtube and other video sites (with appropriate copyright permissions).
    • iReport- participate in reporting the news
    • Flickr- one of many photo sharing sites
    • Animoto- this is one of my favorites... You can upload up to a dozen photos, pick some music, and a video collage is created.
    • Capzles- as in capsules of time; a tool to create a pictoral time line.
    • Prezi - A mind-mapping presentation tool
  • Folksonomy (wikipedia definition- short definition; user generated taxonomy).
    • digg - If you "digg it" you are "voting" that the news piece, video, or image is a good post and relevant. As enough folks "digg it" the item will move to the top of most the popular. Comments are a part of the fun as well.
    • Delicious - Bookmark your favorites on the internet and share them with your "crew".
    • Diigo- taking delicious a step further. Highlight and make notes on web pages for your private viewing or to share with other folks.
  • Social networking - most all of these sites have all of the above services built in as proprietary of "hooks" to the link to the above.
  • Google stuff -- probably the number one creator of Web 2.0 tools and possibly the one stop shop. All are considered Beta and may not work 100%. For my money though, I found it to all work rather well. I have put them in a category by themselves because that have at least one tool that can be put in all the classes above. The long story at http://www.google.com/intl/en/options/. Sign up for google mail and you will have an account for all their tools. My brief list of favorites follows:
    • Google Docs- take the wiki concept and apply it to Microsoft Office -like applications (i.e. Word, Excel, Powerpoint)
    • Picasa- post and share photos
    • Calendar- share your calendar(s) with other folks
    • Sketchup- Draw in 3d to share a collaborate
  • Collaboration, tools, and fun - there are a ton of tools in this category. I won't list a bunch. Maybe you have run across some others.
    • Wordle- create a word cloud from the text of a web page (see a word cloud created from this page).
    • Doink - drawing and animation
    • Pixton - Create your own Comic
    • Swivel - If you are a data person, this site can be fun. Data and graphs in all categories.
    • tiny.cc or tinyurl.com - A couple of places to help you shorten and/or customize long and ugly URLs
    • Embedit.in- A tool to obtain the HTML code for embedding most any type of 3rd party content into your blog or wiki. Results may vary, so be sure to test the final product.

Activity IV - Investigate 2-3 other Web 2.0 tools
Undoubtedly, you have heard, read, or saw some information about technologies and related web sites with these collaboration technologies. This again will be a team effort.
  1. Each team member will identify 2-3 different Web 2.0 technologies that pique their curiosity. Grab from the list above or find your own
  2. Using the teams wiki page and/or the blogging services from Activity III above, each student will create content about real world uses of the Web 2.0 technologies they are investigating.