Web 2.0 is all around us —Google Apps, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the list goes on. The younger generation across the globe, comprising students mostly, have taken onto them as second-skin. India is no different and therein is the opportunity to address some of the structural challenges faced by Indian higher education — expansion, excellence and equity.
Characteristics of Web 2.0: In spite of the plethora of Web 2.0 tools on the internet, a broad classification of their characteristics can be based on their usage.
Communication: Email still exists and would continue to. Owing to many tools now like Skype, go-to meetings and webinars, communication mediums have become sophisticated involving text, voice, video, screen-sharing and combination of these.
Publishing: Easy availability of numerous blogging platforms and wikis coupled with their ergonomic usage has made it easy for everyone to create and publish with relative ease.
Bookmarking: Information on the internet is overwhelming and organising favourite content is a problem. Social bookmarking services like Diigo help. For educators, such tools hold immense potential for knowledge sharing, collaborative research and even reaching out to experts and their bookmarks.
Syndication and aggregation: Feed readers can keep one updated with changing content on favourite websites, blogs, bookmarking pages using the RSS protocols. Using aggregators like iGoogle and netvibes an engine can be built that flashes all content on a single page.
Real-time collaboration: The availability of collaboration tools like Google Apps has transformed collaboration. Google Apps also provides a free suite for educational institutions.
Social networking: Tools like Facebook, Twitter and Google present the opportunity to reach out beyond our known network. Social networking is a powerful tool that aids informal learning. Learning is truly social.