Out of the 47 sessions held at the eLearning Africa conference, only two were about web 2.0. This is very telling, and worrying! (Although in some of the sessions I attended there were certainly web 2.0-like projects, which just hadn’t been labeled as such.)
In the session Web 2.0: A real opportunity for Africa?, Dr Hamish Macloed, University of Edinburgh, presented on New pedagogies for new learning spaces: elearning at the University of Edinburgh. He described their MSc in eLearning course, which uses WebCT, wikis, blogs, Skype and Second Life, amongst others, to teach and network students. Below are points he raised about using Web 2.0 in the teaching-learning experience.
Application of blogs:
- Asynchronous tutorial support. Students blog about their work in progress and the tutors will comment on this.
- Study/research notebook for individuals and the community.
- Object of assessment.
- Forum for research conversation between students, peers and supervisors.
Applications of wiki:
- Shared workspace for problem-based projects.
- Communication of information.
- Collaborative construction of understanding.
- Student as author, tutor as editor.
Application of Facebook:
- As a means of social communication.
- As a manifestation of “presence” for both teachers and students.
- As the development and presentation of an online identity.
Application of Second Life:
- On the MSc program:
- As a tutorial space
- As a social space
- A cultural issue that came up when using Second Life was that an avatar with a head was offensive to some of the African learners because for them people with animal heads represent evil wizards.
- Wider in the university Second Life is used:
- For simulations and role-play
Finally he raised the challenge of assessing web 2.0-esque deliverables, e.g. student blogs. To address one needs to be innovative in assessment, not just in technology use.