Youth meets Web 2.0

PROVIDENCE, RI—Wikis, blogs, social networking, podcasts … welcome to what the tech-savvy call “Web 2.0.” Haven’t heard of it? Wikipedia, one of the best examples of this growing universe, explains:

Web 2.0 refers to a perceived second generation of web-based communities and hosted services — such as social-networking sites, wikis and folksonomies — which aim to facilitate collaboration and sharing between users. The term became popular following the first O'Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference in 2004.[1][2] Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users use the web.

Most youth probably haven’t heard of Web 2.0 either. But teenagers are fast becoming some of the biggest users of these new web-based communities, flocking to sites like,, and The lure: interaction and the chance to create and post one’s own content, from sharing the latest on MySpace to joining the 3-D virtual world of Teen Second Life.

For a number of years, the Pew Internet & American Life Project has tracked technology trends among Americans of all ages and backgrounds. In a January 2005 survey, Pew researchers found that 57 percent of teen Internet users were creating content. Thirty-three percent had shared online their artwork, photos, stories, videos, or other creations. Thirty-two percent had created or worked on web pages or blogs for others (including for groups they belonged to, friends, or school assignments). No doubt, these numbers have increased considerably in the two years since.

“Teens know that ordinary citizens can be publishers, movie makers, artists, song creators, and storytellers,” writes Pew’s Mary Madden. 

How can educators who work with teens join the Web 2.0 wave? WKCD has compiled a list of
resources we have found helpful. In the spirit of Web 2.0, we invite readers to send us links or other useful materials (email: and we’ll add them to the list.

Understanding and using Web 2.0

Teacher Leaders Network
The Teacher Leaders Network (TLN), founded by John Norton, relies on Internet technology and old-fashioned conferencing to build a professional community of highly skilled teachers who share a desire to apply what they know and can do in leadership settings. The website includes an up-to-date, comprehensive, and annotated list of articles, reports, presentations, and resources related to using the latest web technologies in the classroom. The biweekly newsletter, “Of Particular Interest,” is filled with information, tools, and stories. TLN is a program of the Center for Teaching Quality.

The Common Craft Show
The Common Craft Show includes a series of short explanatory videos about Web 2.0. Its creators seek “to fight complexity with simple tools and plain language” and they do it admirably. They call their format "paperworks" and publish a new video about once a month. Must-see videos: Social Bookmarking in Plain English, Social Networking in Plain English, Wikis in Plain English, RSS in Plain English, What Are the Differences between Message Boards and Weblogs?

Seven Things You Should Know About Series
The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) 7 Things You Should Know About ... series provides concise information on emerging learning technologies and related practices. Each brief focuses on a single technology or practice and describes: what it is, how it works, where it is going, and why it matters to teaching and learning.

A Glossary of Some Classroom 2.0 Terms
Working Toward Excellence, the Journal of the Alabama Best Practices Center, works to identify and advocate for promising education practices, especially in the area of technology. This Web 2,0 glossary includes simple definitions of terms like “asynchronous” or “social software” and examples of classroom applications.

Research 2.0: Bringing the research to you
This Wiki, created by educator Eric Hoefler, provides an exhaustive but succinct inventory of Web 2.0 tools, with links to each one.

Pew Internet and American Life Project
The Pew Internet and American Life Project produces reports that explore the impact of the Internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life. The project aims to be an authoritative source on the evolution of the Internet through collection of data and analysis of real-world developments as they affect the virtual world.

Creating and Connecting: Research and Guidelines on Online Social—and Educational—Networking, National School Boards Association, July 2007.
This new study, sponsored by the National School Boards Association, reports the findings of three surveys on Internet social networking: an online survey of 1,277 nine-to-seventeen year olds, an online survey of 1,039 parents, and telephone interviews with 250 school district leaders who make decisions on Internet policy.


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“There’s a radical—and wonderful—new idea here… that all children could and should be inventors of their own theories, critics of other people’s ideas, analyzers of evidence, and makers of their own personal marks on the world.”

– Deborah Meier, educator