What is Web 2.0 and Why Does it Matter?


The term "Web 2.0" can be applied across broad categories of emerging technology tools and design principles, social and economic shifts, business philosophies, participatory media and culture, etc.... Web 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networking and social bookmarking sites, tagging, photo- and video-sharing, RSS, etc...) are collaborative, browser-based and user-driven. They include platforms and tools for publishing, connecting, sharing, organizing and remixing.

A popular synonym for "Web 2.0" is the "Read/Write" web, which suggests that users are contributing, creating and collaborating rather than just consuming web content. "Web 1.0" or the "Read-Only" web was a place where the average user didn't publish content, because it required technical knowledge (HTML and other programming code) and money (to purchase server space and software). Web 2.0 tools allow users to easily participate and to customize their online experiences.

At its core, Web 2.0 is about powerful Web-based technologies connecting people and ideas.

So, what is Web 2.0?

Here are a few "one-sentence" definitions, and one that is slightly longer:

  • "It's not a web of computers, it's a web of people." - Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the World Wide Web
  • "Working on the Internet is the same as working on your desktop." - Sarah Bresee, Outcast
  • "Web 2.0 is the two-way web where content finds you." - Ron Rasmussen, KnowNow
  • "People doing things together on the web." - Mitchell Baker, Mozilla Foundation
  • "Web 2.0 is all the Web sites out there that get their value from the actions of users." - George Jones, InformationWeek
  • "The new WWW: Whatever. Whenever. Wherever." - Tom March, Educator, Co-Inventor of WebQuests
  • "Less than a decade ago, when we were first getting used to the idea of an Internet, people described the act of going online as venturing into some foreign realm called cyberspace. But that metaphor no longer applies. MySpace, Flickr and all the other newcomers aren't places to go, but things to do, ways to express yourself, means to connect with others and extend your own horizons. Cyberspace was somewhere else. The Web is where we live." - Steven Levy and Brad Stone, Newsweek

Discovery Exercise: Why does Web 2.0 matter?

Please watch the following video clips to learn a bit more about some important Web 2.0.

The Web is Changing...

Web 2.0: The Machine is Us/ing Us (Final Version) by Michael Wesch (4:30)

Did You Know 4.0 by Xplane, The Economist, Karl Fish & Scott McLeod (4:46)

Did You Know 2.0 by Karl Fish & Scott McLeod, 2007 (8:20)

Shift Happens (what started it all) (worth a watch to see the evolution!) (7:38)

Students are Changing

A Vision of Students Today

The Networked Student by Wendy Drexler


What might Web 2.0 look like in school and why should I care?

Read this blog post: "Web 2.0 is the Future of Education" by Steve Hargadon.

Then read the article "A Day in the Life of Web 2.0" by David Warlick.

Your Task: Reflect on the following questions (take some notes because you'll be blogging on your reflections later):

  • Consider the ways in which Web 2.0 tools might change (or has already changed) your professional practice.

  • How might you be able to use these new tools to engage today's "digital learners?"

  • What are your initial thoughts about Web 2.0 and its role in 21st century learning and teaching?