Are Web 2.0 Technologies Instigating the adoption of a Second Life – And is it a life worth living?

AUTHOR
Denise Oram

ABSTRACT

The spread of global computer networks is continually making radical changes to our society. The Internet generates a major change in human behaviour and consequently in ethical values, this in turn creates new situations and new problems. There has been a proliferation in the growth and use of Web 2.0 technologies and they are becoming a major feature and driver in the education process. The aim of this paper is an attempt to address and raise awareness of the issues and considerations that web 2.0 technologies present and create for both the teacher and learner alike and for society as a whole.

If we are to adopt these technologies as drivers in the learning process, it is of critical importance to acknowledge the issues they raise and explore possible solutions and directions to take when considering them as the new learning style.

Educational issues have to be addressed in the development of Web 2.0 technologies in the representation of learning outcomes, and in adequate teaching and learning strategies to meet the diverse needs of all students, taking into consideration their individual cognitive abilities.

The paper explores e-learning as the new learning style and the driver to the personalisation of learning and assesses the pedagogical benefits in the process of learning. The benefits and downfalls of Web. 2.0 technologies and future e-learning technologies will also be identified as well as highlighting the ethical and moral implications they have upon society. According to John West-Burnham (2004), “Personalizing learning is fundamentally and profoundly a moral issue”

This paper also explores the societal effects of these technologies as there is a proliferation in their use especially amongst the younger members of society, how far do they use them as a tool or are they themselves becoming tools and slaves to the technology? How much time associated with using these technologies is causing a blur between work, play and learning and endless hours of isolation for the user?

There are problems of isolation and addiction with people spending endless hours of their lives living a life that is not their own but one that is appealing to their social peers as with “Second Life”. People are prone to losing their own sense of reality and identity.

Armstrong et al. (2000) argue that poor self-esteem is a good predictor of Internet addictive behaviour. The question remains, however, as to whether low self-esteem leads to Internet addiction or, conversely, that it is in fact Internet addiction that leads to low self-esteem.

For the future success of these technologies as a learning tool, it is crucial to change the culture of the learning environment. Mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure that pedagogy underpins these technologies for learning.

We, as pioneers of these new technologies, need to adopt new ways of thinking and acting in order to educate those who will be using Web 2.0 technologies as learning tools.

The challenge facing society is that there is a lack of structure pertaining to the use of Web 2.0 technologies as well as policing in cyberspace, how can this be addressed?

Consideration has to be given to social behaviour on the Internet, there is a tendency to promulgate bad behaviour and misuse of these technologies, these issues will also be explored within the paper.

Web 2.0 technologies act as a communication portal, it is important to monitor how far these are used both morally and ethically and to the good of mankind.

It has been argued that people are wasting their lives and using these technologies with harmful results; we need to be aware and have consideration of the social involvement and the psychological well-being of people as a result of using these technologies.

We need to consider social responsibility and the time-engagement with these technologies and ensure that students able to separate learning/play time. In this new dynamic learning environment tutors need to prepare students for the on-line learning experience giving them support as learners and acting as facilitators in their virtual learning experience. The current challenge we face is that of identifying how far Web 2.0 technologies are used efficiently as pedagogical benefits.

It is crucial to have an understanding of the human, social and ethical implications, as well as the strategic and technical factors that are affected by the impact of these technologies. If we are to address these issues in the future, we need to look at social issues such as student isolation, addiction, motivation, satisfaction and inspiration. To be successful, technology has to lend itself to the human element to relate efficiently to the human psyche and philosophy.

Failure to address the issues raised in the exponential advance in Web technology could possibly lead to a lack of focus and worth in its use.

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