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Toward a Set of Theoretical Best Practices for
Web 2.0 and Web-Based Technologies

Matthew Kruger-Ross and Lori B. Holcomb

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General Best Practices

Get to know your context or lay of the land. For some, this includes the examination of additional resources focused on defining Web 2.0 technologies. Additionally, it is important to consider what implications Web 2.0 technologies may have for online learning. For others, this means jumping onto a search engine (e.g., Google), searching for a new tool, and then beginning to explore from there. Regardless of the method, you must allocate effort toward trying out the various technologies. Until you do some exploration, the idea of Web 2.0 technologies will likely seem to be an abstract concept.

Where to go from here?

• Visit and peruse the Wikipedia entry on Web 2.0 at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0

• View Michael Wesch’s YouTube video on exploring Web 2.0 ideas at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE

 

• Visit and read Will Richardson’s prolific educational blog at
http://weblogg-ed.com/

Set boundaries for yourself. All too often, new users invest in the web-based technologies without much forethought, embracing and committing to 15 to 20 new tools. These users often end up overwhelmed, stressed out, frustrated, and disappointed. Instead, choose an activity, lesson, or hobby to explore, and identify a select few tools to try out and explore. Give yourself ample time to learn more about how best to use these tools.

Where to go from here?

  • Set specific time limits for your various explorations

  • Choose two or three tools to commit to learning and integrating into your teaching

  • Enlist the opinions and feedback of peers and family members

Ask for help. The web-based movement allows for a highly interactive community, where persons are always present who are willing to offer assistance. This may take the form of a written tutorial, a post on a community forum or board, or a video tutorial posted on YouTube. In some cases, the developers themselves even create resources for users, and might even be accessible for support via Email or telephone.

Where to go from here?

  • Identify both the FAQ and Help locations on the website where the tool is housed and bookmark them for future recall

  • Locate and join the community of users that are actively using your chosen technology

  • Bookmark additional resources, including podcasts and videos posted on YouTube or Vimeo

Establish relationships. If you find a tool that you like and can integrate it into your life or your teaching, take the time to reach out to the developers and let them know how you intend to use the fruits of their labor, or simply let them know that you are grateful for their sharing. In some instances, they may even ask you to help with the next iteration of the technology, or they may ask what you would improve about the service. In addition, other users are likely present who are equivalently passionate about the tool—reach out to them and connect. Begin communicating with new users and those who may not know as much about the tool or Web 2.0 technologies in general. Generate a tutorial and post it online for others to use. Give back to the community!

Where to go from here?

  • Begin a journal or a blog to chronicle reflections about your journey with the technology

  • Create a Twitter account or join an outside social network to connect with others

  • If you run into a problem that you think others might have, generate a tutorial and post it on your blog or on YouTube

Beta and future directions. There are a few words of caution. Many web-based tools are in a state known as beta, meaning that this is the second release of the software—this follows a state known as alpha, which is typically a private and limited release. In many cases, a beta release will only be offered to a limited number of users. However, as in the example set by Google with Gmail, the web-based platform can remain in beta for years before transitioning to an official release. It is important to recognize that if a tool is still in beta then not all of the functions may work, and it is possible to lose some of your data. Once you have established a relationship with the developer and other users, you will have a better idea about the direction that the tool will take in the future. Will they be moving to a paid option soon? Is that something you are comfortable with? Is there a possibility that they might be merging with another company or that they might be enveloped by another? What are their beliefs on privacy, sharing, and copyright? You will feel more at ease being knowledgeable of the answers to the aforementioned questions.

Where to go from here?

  • Search online to see what others are saying about the tools you choose

  • Reach out to developers for their feedback on next steps

  • Ask many questions to everyone (developers, discussion boards, technical support)

Passwords. The majority of web-based tools require you to generate a password-protected account using a username, often an Email address. You may find yourself developing a long list of usernames and passwords for the tools that you use. Many users have their browsers remember all of their passwords; however, this does not help in the instances where these users access their information and tools via some other computer with an Internet connection. It is best to record all passwords and usernames. Although most services give you the opportunity to reset passwords and usernames, this process can get frustrating and can be a pitfall for a novice user.

Where to go from here?

• Review the password management tools referenced on the following website and select the one that best meets your needs:
http://lifehacker.com/5529133/five-best-password-managers

• Create a document on your computer with all of your passwords, and make sure that it is a password-protected file



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Meridian: A K-12 School Computer Technologies Journal
a service of NC State University, Raleigh, NC
Volume 13, Issue 2, 2011
ISSN 1097-9778
URL: http://www.ncsu.edu/meridian/winter2011/
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