Chapter 4 Open, social and participatory media (May 2011)

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Gráinne Conole
5 May 2011

The emergence of open, social and participatory media in recent years is changing the landscape of technology practices. They are changing the ways in which users interact, communicate and participate with technologies.  These technologies include social networking sites such as facebook, LinkIn, myspace, blogs and wikis and microblogging sites such as Twitter. They are being used for a mixture of social and professional activities. This chapter considers the impact of such  Web 2.0 technologies on education and in particular how these new technologies are changing learning and teaching practices. It will consider their fundamental characteristics and look at the implications for learners, teachers and institutions. It argues that the impact on practice can be both positive and negative and that as a consequence educational institutions need to develop new policies and strategies. This chapter will consider the new forms of user behaviour that are resulting and provide examples of ways in which they are being used to support teaching and learning. The central focus is a critique of the impact of new technologies on education, which raises a number of key questions: What new digital literacy skills are needed? What does it mean to be a teacher or learner in this new environment? What are the implications for organisational structures and processes? What new learning spaces need to be developed to harness the potential of new technologies? The next chapter will look at a social networking site, Cloudworks, which has been developed to support the discussion and sharing of learning and teaching ideas.

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