What are the Values of Web 2 0 Technologies to a Student of Media and Communications

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“Web 2. 0 is a collection of technologies and frameworks that enable collaboration from a social perspective” (Solomon and Schrum, 2007: 1). Such technologies include blogs, wikis, RSS and social networking. The value of web 2. 0 technologies is particularly significant to a student of media and communications, as one can easily expand their knowledge from other students and tutors, as well as from websites across the globe, and this can contribute to one’s awareness and overall understanding of many aspects of the media.

Blogs are “part of the web 2. 0 and social media technology movement where websites are used to facilitate audience participation between community members to build content and value”. (Cass, 2007: 200). Blogging is the means by which a user can publish information on the web about a specific topic, and this information can be accessed by other users who can then respond to the chosen topic, almost like an interactive online journal.

Blogs are particularly useful to a student of media and communications as they permit linkage to other users and thus allow one to participate in web based discussions with a wide network, allowing a range of thoughts and ideas relating to a particular facet of any topic to be shared online. This can be particularly effective if both tutors and peers partake. Blogs can also be efficient to a student of media and communications as they allow one to develop skills for expressing ideas, which is essential regarding coursework and also jobs relating to all aspects of the media.

Weblogs are very significant because teachers and students can incorporate them into both classrooms and practice. However, the tools for searching for blogs and for helping make communication between blogs possible can still lack superiority when compared with forums or web 2. 0 websites such as youTube (which enables members to upload and share videos worldwide, across the internet through websites, blogs, emails and much more), as these consist of closed communities of users.

Blogs, on the other hand, are published by many people and organisations on different websites, and thus there is no central website that synchronises members into specific blogging communities. However, on most social media websites, there are search tools that enable one to locate all relevant people and content to a particular search. Such sites are important to social media and students of media and communications as they allow one to find both content and people who share these interests while they also enable one to publish their own interests and ideas.

There are tools for communication and finding people who share similar interests for blogs on the web. Tagging information such as text or graphics is an easy way for a user to find other bloggers who have written about a topic that relates to their area of interest, as tagging creates more fluent pathways. Technorati, an RSS and blog search engine, uses tags to a great degree, as does del. icio. us, a site for tagging other websites.

This could be useful to a student of media and communications as it is time-efficient and accessing various related resources is far more straightforward, particularly as there is numerous information on the internet, much of which is irrelevant to a particular search. Tagging therefore promotes access to relevant sources, which are needed for referencing and general knowledge when writing academic essays. RSS readers are extremely useful in relation to many web 2. 0 technologies, including blogs. RSS is the acronym for Rich Site Summary/Really Simple Syndication.

It is an easy method of monitoring anything of interest published on the internet. RSS readers are built into MyYahoo! And Google’s personalised home page, Google’s being referred to as Google Reader. RSS and weblogs are changing many aspects of our lives, including the ways in which we teach and learn. Author Will Richardson states in his novel, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, And Other Powerful Web Tools For Classrooms that “From a research and information management standpoint, RSS may be the new “killer app” (extremely useful application) for education” (Richardson, 2006: 8).

Once one has an RSS reader, one can then create and subscribe to RSS feeds based on keyword searches which can be monitored in blogs, such as Google Blog Search, in news such as Yahoo! News and also in message boards and forums such as BoardReader. com. RSS readers automatically carry out checks on sites for new content which is then delivered to the newsfeed on one’s RSS account.

Thus RSS readers are extremely useful to a student of media and communications in terms of time-efficiency, as there is no need to constantly check sites for updates, and for gaining knowledge of different opinions and ideas, especially as topics relating to the media are frequently debated and such discussions will likely be updated on a regular basis. Technorati, a search engine for searching blogs, uses RSS to track updates to millions of blogs, thus this search engine would be extremely useful to students. Wikis are also becoming more and more popular in the field of education.

A wiki is “software that allows users to create, edit and link pages easily. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites” (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Wiki). Teachers and students can use password protected wikis to create their own resource sites. This would be useful to a student of media and communications, as many parts of the course use teamwork, thus project communication is essential to the course. A main strength of wikis is that they can easily be set up so that only team members can edit the content.

Wikis can also be used “to upload files in whatever format you need (such as Word or FrameMaker)” (Brown, Huettner and James-Tanny, 2006: 72) and thus would be a valuable resource for one studying media and communications. For example, if members of a presentation group lived a fair distance from each other, they could use password protected wikis to make their work accessible to the rest of their group, who in turn could post comments and ideas and thus give each other feedback concerning their work. However, one disadvantage of this is that one team member could edit another’s work.

A student of media and communications could also use wikis for improving their writing skills, which would be useful for essay writing and for future job potential, as all facets of the media make use of writing and publishing and the general expressing of ideas. Another vastly significant web 2. 0 technology is social networking. Social networking is difficult to define, as it is evolving so quickly. However, “In its earliest phase, social networking was either blogging (having an online journal or being an amateur commentator) or socialising (finding friends and connecting with them)” (Magid and Collier, 2006: 2).

Social network sites use software to build online social networks for people who share interests. Some popular social network sites include Bebo, Facebook and YouTube. These can be referred to as user-generated-content sites, as members publish personal information about themselves and others, mainly via blogging. There are a number of ways for users to interact on such sites, such as commenting, emailing, file sharing, discussion groups and much, much more.

Social networking could be particularly useful to a student of media and communications as it is an easy method of communication with fellow students and sharing ideas, such as uploaded videos that one has created. YouTube is particularly prominent here, as the site is designed purely for sharing videos across the globe. However, for a student of media and communications, Facebook and Bebo are significantly effective as they offer an instant messaging forum and can be used to gain knowledge and feedback from fellow students and students studying similar subjects.

In addition to this, it also gives students of media and communications insight into the success of social networking and publishing, which is becoming increasingly integrated into our personal lives. This in turn could give such a student the necessary skills and understanding to enable one to generate such technology in the future. Overall, it is very important for a student of media and communications to be familiar with different forms of communication technology, as web 2. technologies are valuable sources of information and have been becoming more and more relevant to the media today. Such technologies contribute immensely to our overall understanding of the media, which is extremely important concerning individuals studying in this particular field. Web 2. 0 technologies are becoming part of our everyday lives, and the significance of blogs, wikis, RSS and social networking is tremendous nowadays. Thus it is important for a student of media and communications to incorporate these into our studies.

Such a student can do this in a variety of ways, from gaining knowledge and developing writing and expression skills through the use of blogs, communicating project ideas and gaining feedback from fellow team members through the use of wikis, subscribing to RSS readers such as Gooogle Reader to monitor updates on particular topics based on keyword searches relating to the media, right to using social networking to share personal projects (such as home-produced videos) with fellow students or simply with people who share similar interests.

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