‘Web XXO’ – Week Three of PLENK2010 on Emerging Technologies

Stefanie PankeBy Stefanie Panke
Editor, Social Software in Education

The third week of the massive open online course PLENK2010 centered around emerging technological trends and their impact on personal learning environments. The names for this “next Web” are manifold: Web 3.0, extended Web, Web eX, or X Web. It comprises themes like augmented reality, semantic web, location-based services, mobile computing and learning analytics (e.g., networks analysis).

Left: visualization of the participants (122) and posts (437), which looks like a drunk and angry sea-urchin. Right: visualization controls.A vizualisation of the discussion in a first week’s PLENK forum with SNAPP

In today’s keynote,
Janet Clarey, social media consultant in the corporate sector, gave her perspective on Web X and its social instrumentation. Based on the advice of her friend, Jim Groom, who says that “knowing what road you’ve been down may lead you where you’re going or avoiding,” Janet started out with the paradigm shift between e-learning 1.0 and e-learning 2.0. In several “live-slides,” she asked the approximately 65 participants to fill the empty whiteboard space with both concepts’ respective foundations in learning theory and the data aggregation in the learning process each approach facilitates. Then she drew the participants’ attention to the weekly topic, focusing on the definition provided by George Siemens: “XWeb is the utilization of smart, structured data drawn from our physical and virtual interactions and identities to extend our capacity to be known by others and by systems.” Janet presented examples for augmented reality as “just in place data” and their educational purposes, for instance, the augmented reality surgery at Harvard Medical School.

In the discussion, George clarified what he means by “smart data” — the meaningful connections between elements and structures that allow for better findability: “The data can find us, instead of us searching for a piece of data we need.” George gave two examples to demonstrate how the physical and the virtual space blend together, blurring our digital identity and real life situations: “Imagine you are sitting in a café and Foursquare makes you aware of three of your friends, who are there as well. Or you are walking down the street, and Google ‘remembers’ you were recently searching for Beaujolais, notifying you that the liquor store has a special offer.”

So all is well with the web extending in our life even  more? Janet warned about privacy issues: “I come from the corporate world. You education guys are all about sharing and learning, but some of this stuff is really scary if you think of the employer’s privacy and workplace control or the insurance business!” Many participants in the accompanying chat shared these concerns.

In the Moodle forum, Alan Levine started an interesting discussion, being skeptical that we are really seeing emerging trends that are all that new: “For something to follow in the sequence of Web 1.0 — Web 2.0 — XXXXX I am looking for something that is an evolutionary leap, a significant change from what was before, and I am not seeing it.” Alan sees augmented reality flawed by usability issues. “It is inefficient to walk around the real world and dealing with the data world through a window of a mobile.” He describes his experience with the Museum of London’s “streetmuseum application” as “neat to see… but rather impractical.”

From this week’s learning resources, I want to share one particular link, relying on the judgment of the Fijian MOOC participant Vilimaka Foliaki: “Listening to Tim Berners Lee’s TED talk is one of the highlights of my experiences in this MOOC.” In February 2009, almost 20 years after he invented the World Wide Web, Berners-Lee challenges its users to reframe it. His talk bridges the history of the Web as we know it with future perspectives and is an excellent starting point for the next, extended Web X.0 — or whatever we will name it….

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