Web 2.0 and Adult Education 1

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Web 2.0 and Adult Education

1

Running Head:
WEB 2.0 AND ADULT EDUCATION


















Marc G. Weinstein, Ph.D.

Tonette S.

Rocco, Ph.D.

Maria S. Plakhotnik

Florida International University









Corresponding author:


Marc Weinstein, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Adult Education and
Human Resource Development

360A ZEB

College of Education

Florida International University

Miami, FL 33199

(305) 348
-
2094

(541) 221
-
5515

marc.weinstein@fiu.edu






Web 2.0 and Adult Education
2




Abstract

This chapter explores

how
the emergent information ecosystem

relates to
assumptions

about
adult learners articul
ated in the theory of Andragogy
(Knowles, 1970
,

1984).

The chapter
discuss
es

the evolution of the information ecosystem and how its defining attributes relate to
access, voluntary participation,
self
-
direct
ion, and
learning web
s. The
new opportu
nities offered
by this
information ecosyste
m
emerged in the same social and intellectual milieu as the
foundational principles of adult education
. Current developments in adult education indicate that
new innovations in the use of interac
tive and communication technologies are emerging in a
transformed information ecosystem
.





























Web 2.0 and Adult Education
3




Web

2.0
and the Actualization of the Ideals of Adult Education


Anyone with access to the World Wide Web

now has a portal to a vast amount of
information. This is a recent development as are the high rates of Internet usage, easy access to
user
-
created content, and social computing.

The explosion of new content on the World Wide
Web, the ability of individua
ls to access and contribute to this content, and new interactive and
communication technologies all constitute elements of a new information ecosystem. The term
ecosystem is used to emphasize the importance of the multitude of interactions between
individu
als and communities in the information environment.

In this chapter we discuss how
the
emergent information ecosystem

relates to
assumptions about adult learners articulated in the
theory of Andragogy (Knowles, 1970
,

1984).

We begin with

an overview of adu
lt education

and
core concepts as they relate to changes in the information
ecosystem. In the second part of the
chapter we discuss the evolution of the information ecosystem and how its defining attributes
relate to access, voluntary participation,
self
-
d
irect
ion, and learning webs. We note that the new
opportu
nities offered by this
information ecosystem are not accidental, but rather emerged in the
same social and intellectual milieu as the foundational principles of adult education
.
In the final
part of
the chapter, we examine the current use of new interactive communication technologies
to promote adult education.

Background:

Adult Education, Self
-
direction, Voluntary Participation, and Access

Technology has assisted adults to escape conformity while pr
oviding tools to assist with
learning and knowledge creation. Technological tools have included instruments to record
information and ideas such as pen and paper, printing presses, computers, and Web 2.0. Knowles
(1977) traces the use of adult education to

apprenticeship programs, agricultural societies, and
Web 2.0 and Adult Education
4




Benjamin Franklin’s Junto. Apprenticeships were arrangements between a skilled craftsman and
a novice where the novice learned by doing. The master and apprentice might be engaged with
the latest techno
logy in the carpentry or silversmith trades. Agricultural societies met to discuss
innovations and technological advances in agriculture
, w
hile the Junto members read printed
material that they discussed at meetings. Advances in technology around the print
ing press
improved access to materials such as newspapers, pamphlets, and books. This technological
advance increased communication and the dissemination of knowledge
, which aided colonists
when they declared and won

independence

and nurtured

a
nascent

eco
nomy. Technological
advances foster communication between people, dissemination of ideas, and economic
development.

Technology
also
assists adults seeking formal (within educational institutions) or
nonformal education (external to the established institut
ions) and informal learning
(opportunistic, experiential, incidental; Merriam & Brockett, 1997). Informal learning occurs
without sponsorship or institutional control. Informal learning occurs in every day contexts for
problem solving (Merriam, Caffarella,

& Baumgartner, 200
6
; Merriam & Brockett, 1997). “Most
adult educators suspect that the majority of adult learning is informal” (Merriam

et al.,

200
6
, p.
60)
;

adults have difficulty in identifying and placing measurable parameters around these
learning epi
sodes making it a difficult area to study and to influence. Learning episodes
are more
commonly known as self
-
direct
ed learning projects.

Houle’s
(1961)
study of adult participation

produced a division of “purposes and values
of continuing education”
(
p.
15)

that distinguishes among goal, activity, and learning
orientations
. In the 1970s Houle’s doctoral student Tough investigated the learning orientatio
n
goal of adults describing them

as learning projects (Hei
mstra, 1994),
initiated by learners who
Web 2.0 and Adult Education
5




are mo
tivated to gain knowledge
,
skill
s,

or produce change. The assumption that adults are
self
-
direct
ed in their learning was popularized by Knowles (1970) and was based on
learning
orientation
. Knowles (
1970,
1975) further developed his basic assumptions about

the adult
learner by setting a baseline for
self
-
direct
ed learning. For Knowles
self
-
direct
ed learning
meant
that

adults have a universal need and are intrinsicall
y motivated to be self
-
directed

in their
learning
.
The problems stem from experience and exp
erience is used to solve the problems
.


Knowles (1984) popularized other assumptions about the adult learner
. He made the case
to distinguish

between adult
s

and children as learners

and developed the concept of Andragogy,
a

system of assumptions about the
adul
t learner
(Merriam

et al.
, 200
6
).

Andragogy is “the art and
science of helping adults learn” (Kn
owles, 1970, p. 38) and is counterpoised to

pedagogy
's focus
on children. Adult educators accepted a
ndragogy because different
iating between the education
o
f

children and adults was important to professionalizing the field. W
ith these assumptions
“Knowles proposed a program planning model for designing, implementing, and evaluating
educational experiences wit
h adults” (Merriam, 2001, p. 5)
. Andragogy and
self
-
direct
ed
learning are considered pillars in the knowledge base of adult learning (Merriam, 2001).

Ohliger argued against the professionalization of the field of adult education because he
felt that as the practice of adult education became the profession

of adult education
,

less of the
development work would “advance equality and social justice for independent learners” (Grace
& Rocco, 2009, p
. 5) who value free
access to media and materials.

Professionalization also
carried with it education as a solution

to correct behavior, fill a void in knowledge, or serve
corporations. Education as a solution diminished the importance of coming to learning
voluntarily, engaging with a community of learners to solve a problem or pursue a cause, and
pursuing
self
-
direct
ed learning projects without an instructor (Rocco, 2009).

Web 2.0 and Adult Education
6




An unarticulated assumption of the field is that adults have
unencumbered
access to
education and learning opportunities. The assumption of access
has

been criticized because the
amount of schooling
, age, and socioeconomic status are predictors of access
.

Discussions of
access
,

however
,

must be focused on what can be measured. So in 1982 when Darkenwald and
Merriam described the typical adult education participant as “white, and middle class, has
com
pleted high school, is married” (p. 120), they refer to formal and nonformal education.

The issue of access to education has been debated most notably by Illich as a critique of
the institutionalization of schools, the commodification of education, and th
e redundancy of
experts (Finger & Asun, 2001). The end result is “institutions create the needs and control their
satisfaction, and by so doing, turn the human being and her or his creativity into objects” (Finger
& Asun, 2001, p. 10). Two concrete activit
ies emerged from Illich’s critique of
institutionalization. He is known as the founder of the home school movement (Illich, 1970)

and
the advocate

of learning webs (Illich, 1973). Learning webs exist in a convivial society that
supports open access to lear
ning tools and building communities of learners (Finger & Asun,
2001). With computers costing
less than televisions and available

in locations such as libraries
and homeless shelters
, there are new possibilities

for “a radically new relationship between
hu
man beings and their environment” (Illich, 1978, p. 80 quoted in Finger & Asun, 2001, p. 14)
in terms of access to learning tools, voluntary unencumbered choice to solve problems, and the
support of a community of
self
-
direct
ed learners.

Web 2.0 and the N
ew Information Ecosystem


In 1990 Tim Berners
-
Lee and Robert Callias, his assistant, a student and staff member
of
the European Center for Nuclear Physics (CERN) were the first to successfully communicate
between at HTTP client and server via the Internet (Gillies & Calilliau, 2000). This innovation
Web 2.0 and Adult Education
7




allowed a connectio
n from

hypertext to the Transmission Control Protoc
ol and domain name
systems

in what is now known as the

"
World Wide Web
." After CERN created a website based
on this innovation (
see,
http://info.cern.ch), the number of websites grew exponentially
. In its
first decade, the World Wide Web only offered limit
ed user interaction and has since been
characterized as Web 1.0 (DeNucci, 1999).
In 2004 technology blogger Tim O’Reilly
popularized

the term Web 2.0 in the first in a

series of articles and blogposts describing the
technical and social attributes of the I
nternet in its state of development at the start of the 21
st

century

(O'Reilly, 2005). While
Web 2.0 offers a convenient shorthand to describe new
possibilities of collaboration and interaction on the
i
nternet
, the importance of Web 2.0 is better
understoo
d in terms of how new ideas and social relations emerge at a time when

majority of the
adult population in industrialized countries and nearly

half the world's population

have access to
computation
al

tools

and vast amounts of content in a new information e
cosystem
.

Intellectual Origins of Web 2.0


The emergence of Web 2.0 and the open source movement have their origins in the
democratic ethos in the programmer communities around Stanford University
,

Silicon Valley
,

the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

(
M
assachusetts Institute of Technology

OpenCourseWare
,
n.d.
)
,

and Cambridge Massachusetts (Raymond, 2001).
Established in 1975 i
n
Silicon Vall
ey, the Homebrew Computer Club
members helped each other build personal
computers, shared ideas, and

shared


sof
tware.
Sharing software

prompt
ed

Bill Gate

s Open
Letter to Hobbyists, in which he lamented that

As the majority of hobbyists must be aware,
most of you steal software
” (Gates, 1976, para. 4).


Web 2.0 and Adult Education
8





A

founding member of Homebrew

Computer Club

Lee Feldenstein led a project called
Community Memory, which allowed every day people to link to a central computer from two
terminals set up in a popular record shop. The project’s description was:

An actively open information system, enabling direct
communication among its users
with no centralized editing or control over the information exchanged. Such a system
represents a precise antithesis to the dominant uses of electronic media which broadcasts
centrally
-
determined messages to mass passive audie
nces (Leadbetter
,

2008,

p. 56)


Feldenstein saw the Community Memory project and other efforts like it as fostering
convivial institutions like those discussed in Illich’s
(1973)
Tools for Conviviality
. Like John
Ohliger and other adult educators who chall
enged the conventions of the time (Grace & Rocco,
2009), Feldenstein was strongly influenced by Illich
(1970)
who famously rallied against school
that “discourages and disables the poor from taking control of their own learning


(p. 8). These
optimistic an
d democratic beginnings of the
World Wide Web

ebbed in the era of the dot.com
boom and bust from approximately 1995
-
2001, but have begun to re
-
emerge with the open
-
source movement and social computing, which may lead to

increased

access, voluntary
particip
at
ion, and self
-
directedness
.


This same ethos has guided a reconsideration of traditional restrictive use of copyright.
An

active computer hacker culture
was emerging around
. At its center was Richard Stallman
who
as

an undergraduate student at Harvard b
ecame a programmer at Artificial Intelligence Lab.
He continued to work there

continued until 1983 when he launched the GNU

operating system as
an

alternative to the proprietary UNIX operating system
.

(GNU is
a recursive acronym for “GNU
is not Unix
”.)

In
his continued efforts to develop and promote GNU, Stallman issued the GNU

manifesto

in 1985 in which Stallman outlines the general principles of the free software
Web 2.0 and Adult Education
9




movement and General Purpose Licensing (GPL). This was later developed in the concept of
“cop
yleft.”


C
opyright law grants an author the right to prohibit others from reproducing, adapting, or
distributing copies of the authors’ work
.

In contrast, under the doctrine of copyleft,
products are
allowed to
be
reproduce
d
, adapt
ed

and redistribute
d
pro
vided that the subsequent versions of the
product are also covered by the principles of copyleft.

The GNU GPL

and copyleft
were

developed further during the early years of Web 2.0 (Lessig, 2005). If copyright can be reduced
to “all rights reserved,” Creati
ve Commons was founded to formalize various ways creators of
intellectual property could codify “some rights reserved”

(Lessig, 2005).


In many ways, the restriction
s

of
the
use
of
content are designed to protect the original
authors from false attribution

of ideas
as well as

to protect the intellectual property of the
authors. The terms of distribution for Online Courseware (OCW) initiative provide a good
example

(
M
assachusetts Institute of Technology

OpenCourseWare
,
n.d
)
. In the frequently asked
questions section on OCW's website, clear and explicit references are made to the concept of
copyleft. Specifically, OCW limits the use of the material to non
-
commercial purposes.
F
or
-
profit and non
-
profit entities may use OCW mat
erial provided that a fee is not charged to the
ir

clients
.
M
assachusetts Institute of Technology

requires the distribution of OCW and derivative
works should attribute the initial authorship of faculty
.

However,

translations of OCW materials
must
note that

faculty have not reviewed nor are responsible for the accuracy of translations.
Finally, in relating the principle of copyleft requires that

others who use the work must “
must
offer the works freely and openly to others under the same terms that OpenCours
eWare first
made the works available to the user
” (
M
assachusetts Institute of Technology

OpenCourseWare
,
n.d.
, para.8
)

Web 2.0 and Adult Education
10




The impact of copyleft and Creative Commons licensing on Web 2.0 and the current
information environment can be seen both in the developm
ent of the technical infrastructure for
collaboration and access to the
World Wide Web

and in the challenge to the notion that
knowledge is owned by individual or corporate producers of content. In terms of infrastructure,
Linux and the Open Source softwar
e movement facilitate increased access, reducing the
transaction costs of mass collaboration. In terms of content creation, Creative Commons provide
a means by which content providers can share content with varying levels of restrictions.

Information Munif
icence


The
technical infrastructure
of the internet
allows individuals dispersed across time and
space to gain access and to develop new content. In less than the span of a generation, the
amount of information has grown beyond what could be measured by t
he estimated 135 million
publicly accessible websites

(Wolfram Research, 2009)
. The munificence of this new
infor
mation environment is creating
new opportunities for explorations for learn
ing in formal,
informal, and non
formal settings. The content that de
fines this new information environment is
the result of a combination of for
-
profit initiatives, not
-
for
-
profit individual and institutional
initiatives, and social computing itself.

Among the most prolific for
-
profit enterprises whose business model relie
s on
aggregating available content free of charge for end users is Google. The impact of Google and
its business model on our information environment
has been so vast that a new verb “to Google”
has been in use since 2001
(“
Google”, 2009
).
While Google’s i
nitial contribution was to
demonstrate the power of search technology, its more enduring legacy may be as a driver of
digitizing hitherto un
-
digitized data sources such as books and an aggregator of other digitization
efforts.


Web 2.0 and Adult Education
11




Google has a variety of serv
ices in their beta phase that makes information a
vailable at no
cost to end via links on website to Google Labs
. As products have moved out of
the
development
phase, Google
’s

current business model does not rely on user fees. Among all of Google’s
informat
ion services, none is more expansive or controversial than Google Book Search.
Announced in October 2004 as Google Print at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the initial aim of this
project was to digitize all public domain printed works, a
n

endeavor made possible
through
Google’s initial collaboration with Harvard University, the University of Michigan, the New
York Public Library, the University of Oxford, and Stanford University. These libraries were
later joined by at least 17 libraries including prestigious col
lections in Japan, Belgium, Germany,
France, and Switzerland. Google’s partnerships with these not
-
for
-
profit and state institutions
and advances in scanning technology have enabled it to scan seven million books in just its first
4

years of work. One million of these titles are available in full preview based on agreements
with publishers

(Drummond, 2008).

Since Google launched its Book Search program, numerous other initiatives that make
content available have been undertaken inclu
ding one from the French National Library.
Additionally, nearly all media outlets provide considerable amounts of content free of charge to
users, further enriching our information environment.

Among the most impressive large
-
scale initiatives from not
-
fo
r
-
profit institutions to date,
is
M
assachusetts Institute of Technology
's OCW project, with over 1,800 course
s

in 33
disciplines from all five schools. Free of charge to anyone with access to the Internet, the OCW
website is designed to enhance access acro
ss the globe and is functional at low
-
band width
speeds with older as well as new
er

versions of operating systems and browsers. An impressive
75
%

of faculty have made available at least one course through OCW, and 49
%

have contributed
Web 2.0 and Adult Education
12




two courses. In 2006
the most recent year from which we have data, there were 9.2 million page
views


an increase of 56
%

from the previous year

( , 2009)
. Additionally, more than 350
courses have been translated into languages other than English. Despite limitations such as l
ack
of course packets that contain copyrighted material, the absence of solutions to some problem
sets, and no direct access to

faculty, the OCW is a magnificent gift of access that

is providing to
educators, institutions, and individuals. Not surprisingly
,

M
assachusetts Institute of
Technology
’s lead in this field has inspired other universit
ies

to make their courses available on
line.

As the amount of new content has increased in recent years, new computational tools are
becoming available to traditional

and adult learners. Among the most prominent is
wolframalpha.com launched in July 2009 by Wolfram Research, a company associated with
Mathematica. In addition to allowing public access much of the computational algorithms
available through its proprietary

Mathematica software, wolframalpha.com allows users access
to data series and computational tools that hitherto had been simply unavailable to average
internet users

(Wolfram Research, 2009)
.

User Created Content

A distinctive feature of Web 2.0 is the ab
ility of everyday users to create and contribute
content mediated through social network computing. The highest profile
,

mass collaborati
on and
content creation

effort is Wikipedia. In January 2001 following an inauspicious attempt to launch
Nupedia, an ex
pert
-
driven encyclopedia, Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger founded Wikipedia
i
nitially conceived as an information “feeder” to individuals writing for Nupedia.
Shortly a
fter
the launch of Wikipedia, it became apparent that the wiki (the Hawaiian word for “quic
k”)
offered an efficient medium for mass collaboration
. A wiki is a web site where users can make
Web 2.0 and Adult Education
13




changes, contributions, or corrections (“Wiki”, 2009)
. As the

Wikipedia

project evolved,
the

mission

became

creating and distributing “a free encyclopedia of
the highest possible quality to
every single person on the planet in their own language


(Wales, 2005
, para. 1
).

As of August 2009 Wikipedia has 13 million articles in 262 language editions. Twenty
-
four of these non
-
English language editions have over 100,
000 entries each. The English edition
with three million entries receives slightly more than half of Wikipedia’s cumulative traffic of
between 25,000 and 60,000 page requests per second or approximately between two and five
million page requests per day

(“
Wikipedia”, n.d)
.


While there is little doubt that Wikipedia has been successful when measured by the
volume of traffic to its website, it has been roundly criticized by those who lament that at its
worst Wikipedia is systematically biased and at its best

is creating a “generation of intellectual
sluggards incapable of moving beyond the Internet


(Fry, quoted in Stothart, 2007

p. 2
).
Characterizing Wikipedia as a “faith
-
based encyclopedia,” the former editor
-
in
-
chief of the
Encyclopedia Britannica

lambaste
d the open editing system of Wikipedia, commenting:

The user who visits Wikipedia to learn about some subject, to confirm some matter of
fact, is rather in the position of a visitor to a public restroom. It may be obviously dirty,
so that he knows to exerc
ise great care, or it may seem fairly clean, so that he may be
lulled into a false sense of security. What he certainly does not know is who has used the
facilities before him
.

(McHenry, 2004
, p. 1
)


No one can fault McHenry for his perspectiv
e;

h
owever, d
oes McHenry’s critique stand
up to empirical analysis?
A
n “expert
-
led” investigation conducted by
Nature

magazine (Giles,
2005) found numerous errors in both Wikipedia and the
Encyclopedia Britannica
:

an average of
four errors per Wikipedia article and three errors per
Encyclopedia Britannica
entry. Despite the
Web 2.0 and Adult Education
14




relative better accuracy of the expert
-
led encyclopedia at the time of the study, the main take
-
away for many is that the self
-
correcting chara
cter of mass collaboration on a wiki platform can
lead to surprisingly good results. After all,
Encyclopedia Britannica

had over
100

years of
experience in expert
-
led content creation compared to Wikipedia’s
4

years of experience.


Wikipedia is but one
example of many endeavors in which users have contributed to the
social production of content. These include the Spanish language Enciclopedia Libre, Susing.nu,
and numerous wikis in more narrow areas of specialization. The content of these information
por
tals are user created and edited across time and space by anonymous individuals. Whatever
their shortcomings might be in terms of accuracy, these limitations would seem to be more than
made up for by breadth of reach. Unlike expert
-
led systems that effecti
vely have more limited
-
breadth due to their subscription, fee
-
based business models, wikis
,

and other collaborative
content development efforts are available to any self
-
directed literate individuals with access to
the
World Wide Web
. Technology and an eth
os that supports open access have both been critical
elements to
the
explosion of knowledge content that is openly available in our new information
environment.

Web 2.0 and Collaboration Among Adult Educators


Given the intellectual origins of Web 2.0, it
is not surprising that adult educators have
been among the first to use the tools for collaborative endeavors.
A

new, uncoordinated
movement is emerging among adult educators collaborating in the development of curriculum
and dialogue on issues of interest
.
I
nitiatives among professionals are taking place alongside
trends that place learning more under control of learners. How far this latter development will go
towards actualizing the
principles

of access, voluntary participation, and self
-
directedness wil
l be
determined by the continuing success of the open source movement. In this section of the
Web 2.0 and Adult Education
15




chapter, we provide examples how such web 2.0 tools as blogs, wikis, chat rooms, and social
networking cites have been used by adult educators.

Blogs

Blogs

allow
learners

to

share their experiences by keeping an on
-
line diary or journal.
Learners post their entries to the blog in a reverse chronological order, and blog visitors can
comment on the entries, but they cannot delete or alter them. Ninety percent of blog

owners are
between 13 and 29 years old; therefore, incorporating blogs in adult education can facilitate
student engagement in the learning process, especially of adults under 30 (Rubio, Martin, &
Moran, 2007). By using blogs adult educators also show tha
t they keep up with emerging
technologies and can “speak the language” of their students and, hence, relate to them.


Often adult educators use blogs to supplement on
-
line, blended, or face
-
to
-
face
classroom instruction. These blogs help establish and supp
ort “a common online presence for
unit related information” (Duffy & Bruns, 2006, p. 33), such as a course or project. In addition to
calendars and assignments, educators use blogs to post useful tips for students and course
updates or provide lists of res
ources. Adult educators have also used blogs to assess student
learning needs and improve classroom instruction. For example, Higdan and Topaz (2009) in
their mathematics classes require university and college students to post a message on a blog
about the

most challenging and the most interesting parts of homework reading materials the
night before each class. Based on the students’ responses, the instructors alter the class
instruction to address student difficulties and, hence, facilitate their learning
of the curriculum.
Blogs can also be used by adult learners to share with peers their reflections on teaching methods
or professional challenges. Such blogs facilitate learners’ understanding of their profession,
critically reflect on their experiences, an
d document their learning and professional growth
Web 2.0 and Adult Education
16




(Kervin, Mantei, & Herrington, 2009). For example, University of Wollongong, Australia,
created a blog where p
re
-
service teachers could share their reflections of their first teaching
experiences with in
-
se
rvice teachers and university faculty. These reflections helped the pre
-
service teachers better understand their role and professional identity as teachers. Well
-
organized
blogs kept over a period of time can also serve as electronic portfolios (Weller, Pe
gler, & Mason,
2005) that show adult learners’ analytical, storytelling, and writing abilities. Blogs can also serve
as a tool to collect formative evaluation of the course or learning activities (Madsen et al., 2008)
or feedback about university, program,

or other learner services
.

Blogs can help adult learners to share and adult educators to facilitate informal and non
-
formal learning experiences. The University of Minnesota, for example, encourages student
participation in civic engagement activities. S
tudents’ reflections on volunteering in the
community, hospitals, or homeless shelters posted as blogs represent “some of the more
thoughtful and compelling blogs” among other blogs kept by the university students (Nackerud
& Scaletta, 2007, p. 82). Such b
logs have a potential to reach and inspire other students about the
importance of civic engagement. A lecturer in computer science Tim Roberts (2006), for
example, keeps a blog to inform researchers and practitioners about online collaborative learning
and

share relevant resources, such as articles, books, journals, or glossary of terms. Farmers,
businessmen, activists, and educators in Indiana use blogs to educate their local community how
to support the local food system (Glowacki
-
Dudka & Isaacs, 2009). T
hese blogs help engage the
community in planning of local food production, solve problems, and research for grants and
other supports.

Many small and large businesses and corporations have realized the advantages that blogs
can bring to enhance communicati
on, knowledge sharing, and workplace learning. Blogs kept by
Web 2.0 and Adult Education
17




employees serve as
a
means to store and share knowledge about any aspect of their jobs, such as
new ideas, trouble shooting, or information about their competitors (Kapp, 2007). This
knowledge is

accessible to everyone in the organization at any geographic location. Not
surprisingly, in a recent survey (Bonk, Kim, Oh, Teng, & Son 2007), human resource
development (HRD) practitioners indicated that blogs, among other web 2.0 tools, would be used
wi
dely to facilitate blended learning in corporate training in the near future.

Wikis

Wikis

refer to types of websites that can be built and edited by any user. Therefore, “if a
blog is a monologue, then wiki is a discussion” (Kapp, 2007, p. 29). Wikis are o
ften used to
store, categorize, and share materials related to a class or project (Rubio et al., 2007). Due to
their interactive nature, wikis are also used for collaborative projects, such as class projects,
research articles, training manuals, or strateg
ic plans (Cronin, 2009). For example, students in an
undergraduate marketing course collaborated on writing a textbook via wiki (Cronin, 2009).
Each student was responsible for writing 12 pages of text and editing 100 pages of other
students’ text. Althoug
h many students were not familiar with wikis, this project helped students
increase their collaboration skills. Working collaboratively on a course wiki has also been shown
to increase student learning of the course content (M
a
tthew, Felvegi, & Callaway, 2
009).
Matthew et al. required their pre
-
service teachers in a language arts methods course to work in
groups on monitoring a page on a class wiki. Each page was situated around a course topic, and
students were responsible for adding and editing content to

their page by posting summaries of
homework readings or essays on how these readings were related to their prior teaching or work
experiences and other class assignments. This wiki assignment helped students synthesize what
they learned and connect what t
hey learned to their prior knowledge and experience. Wikis can
Web 2.0 and Adult Education
18




help in evaluation of classes, programs, or services. For example, at Brown University students
created a wiki to share their experiences with instructors and courses in which they were enrolle
d
(Duffy & Bruns, 2006). Such wiki
s

provide students freedom and flexibility to express their
thoughts and review reflections of other students.

Health education practitioners used wikis to educate communities about diseases and
share practices. For exampl
e, the Flu Wiki
(n.d.)
provides communities resources to prevent
influenza.
T
he world largest non
-
profit organization dedicated to blood cancer research and
education

called Society

uses wikis to share best practices among members of its 66 chapters
(Kapp,

2007). SA Health Manager Wiki
(n.d.)
provides a space for health care managers and
leaders in South Africa to share their knowledge to increase their professional competencies.
Some of the resources include information related to personal development, lea
dership and
strategy, project and program management, and organizational development. For example, the
“leadership and strategy” page includes definitions, articles, and assessment tools related to
ethical leadership, providing feedback, delegation of resp
onsibilities, knowledge management,
problem solving, and many other

topics
.

Many adult education organizations, centers, and groups have created wikis to share
experiences around common topics of interests. Adult Literacy Education Wiki (n.d.) has been
cr
eated and used by researchers, practitioners, and adult learners to foster a virtual community of
practice. Adult literacy educators are encouraged to contribute and utilized this wiki to explore a
variety of topics, such as action research, corrections ed
ucation, and learning disabilities, among
other

concerns
. Adult Education Technology Wiki (n.d.) was created “as a learning space” (para.
2) for adult basic education practitioners and volunteers to share ideas about
the
implementation
of new technologies.

The United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the
Web 2.0 and Adult Education
19




Advancement of Women (UN
-
INSTRAW), a global leader in research, policy and practice to
improve gender equality and empower women, created its Gender Training Wiki

(n.d.).
The wiki
in
cludes links to organizations that provide training related to gender equality; conferences,
workshops, and courses related to gender issues; training resources; and other useful links.

The Human Resource Development Working Group (HRDWG) of the Asia
-
Pacif
ic
Economic Cooperation (APEC) organization uses
APEC Human Resources Development wiki
(n.d.)
to share and develop knowledge about effective HRD practices and policies and to
facilitate networking among the international HRD community. The “Projects” page of this wiki
provides links to
the
nearly 50 activities of HRDWG. For example, the page
on
Voc
ational
Education and Training for the Youth Forum contains case
-
studies, papers, and reports from the
past three annual meetings of this forum. Their Workshop on Embedding Entrepreneurship in
University Curriculum was a 2008 conference that focused on the

development of university
programs that promote entrepreneurship. The wiki page of this conference contains
recommendations of the conference report and power points of the conference presentations. The
“Events” page of this wiki provides information o
n
A
PEC and non
-
APEC activities in the Asia
-
Pacific region that might be useful for HRD practitioners. Another page of this wiki provides
an
overview of the goals of several HRDWG networks (Capacity Building Network, Education
Network, and Labour and Social Pr
otection Network) and links to their pages.

Chat Rooms

Chat rooms provide opportunities for multiple learners from multiple locations to interact
at the same time. Therefore, chat rooms represent a great tool for adult educators for facilitating
interacti
on among students and between students and faculty, especially in an on
-
line
environment where students to do not have opportunities to meet with others face
-
to
-
face.
Stein

Web 2.0 and Adult Education
20




and Calvin (2002) used chat rooms in their adult education foundation course to fac
ilitate the
entire class and small group discussions. When used to engage the entire class, the instructor
used chats to discuss general course concerns and to set the tone for small group discussions.
Later, in small groups students used chats to discuss
weekly readings and prepare response
s

to
the instructors’ questions. Stein et al. (2007) required students to use chat rooms when working
in groups to complete their coursework for a blended adult education foundations class. Through
sharing their ideas, q
uestioning responses of their peers, and making connections students
transformed their individual understanding of the course materials into a collective, shared
understanding. Chat rooms can be used to incorporate games into on
-
line adult education
classr
oom. Johnson and Aragon (2000) used chats to simulate the popular “Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire” game in
a
graduate human resource development course. The instructor posted
multiple
-
choice questions in the chat
room
and students posted the letter correspo
nding to the
correct answer in the chat room. The next question went to the student who was first to provide
the correct answer. If a student did not the answer, for example, he/she could post “ask the
audience” message and then had to choose the correct a
nswer from suggestions posted by other
students. Chat rooms can also help

the

instructor to send announcements or reminders, discuss
and establish rules for group work, or have virtual office hours to communicate with students
about their academic progress

or problems (Merrill, DiSilvestro, & Johnson, 2008).

Chat rooms have several advantages over traditional face
-
to
-
face classrooms for some
groups of adult learners, for example, for adults learning a second language (Blake, 2009) or for
adults in continui
ng professional development courses (Garrison, Schardt, & Kochi, 2000; Ryan
& Waterson, 2000). In traditional face
-
to
-
face classrooms, adult
s

learning a second language
usually take turns participat
ing

in a discussion or answer
ing

questions (Blake, 2009).
In chat
Web 2.0 and Adult Education
21




rooms, all students can contribute simultaneously and, hence, use their second language more
often. Chat rooms also provide these learners some privacy and lessen the degree of discomfort
that many second language learners have when speaking in fro
nt of others in a traditional face
-
to
-
face classroom. Also, while chatting students can see the words, phrases, and sentences that
they, their peers, or instructors are typing, which provide visual clues that facilitate their
comprehension and learning. Ch
at rooms have also been incorporated into distance education
courses in continuing professional development, for example, for medical librarians (Garrison et
al., 2000) or practicing physicians (Ryan & Waterson, 2000). Many professionals have to or
would l
ike to participate in continuing professional development; however, not all have time or
resources to enroll into traditional continuing education courses or attend conferences and
workshops and opt for distance education courses. In these courses, chat ro
oms provide
opportunities for adult learners to connect with others in their profession, discuss their practice,
and exchange ideas to stay current with the knowledge in their profession.


Many universities and colleges have added chat rooms as a tool to p
rovide some of their
services virtually. For example, University of Kansas Libraries uses chat rooms to promote
research and information literacy skills among their students, faculty, and staff (Devin, Currie, &
Stratton, 2008). Like in the face
-
to
-
face en
vironment, chat rooms allow librarians to discuss with
students or faculty search words, develop search strategies, or explain the differen
ce

between
various types of sources. Chat rooms provide other opportunities that
a
face
-
to
-
face environment
does not.

For example, librarians can suggest students or faculty log into the library website and
walk them through the database, step
-
by
-
step; while the student performs a search task, librarians
can use this time to assist others and then check on the student ag
ain to monitor his or her search
progress.

Web 2.0 and Adult Education
22




Social Networking Sites

Social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn) represent an on
-
line
space for people with common interests where they create their profiles and share them with
others. Edu
cators have started using these sites to create communities of practice (Wenger,
1998), or groups that share ideas about something and learn from each other through interaction.
University of Brighton, UK, integrated a social networking site Elgg to build
community among
students, faculty, and administrators across campus (Franklin & van Harmelen, 2007). The site is
used as both a platform for on
-
line courses and a space for social networking. Many faculty
moved their on
-
line classes from
the
Blackboard pla
tform to Elgg because Elgg provides for
more interaction. Learners use this site for personal development planning, developing e
-
portfolios, and providing support for peers who struggle with their learning. A non
-
profit
organization
,

Principals for Change
,

uses a social networking site, Green Spaces, to share
knowledge among school principals and teachers about ways to save energy at their schools and
to integrate environmental awareness into the school curriculum (“It’s Not Easy Being Green

Or Is It?”, 200
9).

Social networking sites have been used to build professional networks for adult learners
and educators, free of charge and even without leaving home. The University of Colorado has
integrated a social networking site TappedIn in a broader teacher prof
essional development
initiative (
Sawchuk, 2008)
. The site allows almost 3,000 teachers locally and internationally
to
participate in virtual classrooms and interest groups. Many adult learners and educators engaged
in academic research have joined Academia
.edu site to share their research interests with others
and find people with similar research interests. Educators interested in the use

of

web 2.0 and
collaborative technology in the classroom have created
the
Classroom20 site where they can
Web 2.0 and Adult Education
23




exchange idea
s, find support and help, and participate in virtual discussions around tools, for
example, as blogging, instant messaging, or podcasting, or other issues around web 2.0, such as
cyberbulling, internet safety, or professional development.

Social networkin
g sites can also provide
a
support system for different groups of adult
learners. For example, Burgess (2009) suggests that incorporation of social networking sites into
a course curriculum benefits adult female learners’ academic experiences. Adult female

learners
succeed better in learning environments that incorporate connections and relationships among
learners. Therefore, inclusion of social networking sites into a course fosters female learners’
social capital by providing them access to networks of m
en and women who can provide support
with every day activities as well as moral and professional support. Another good example
comes f
r
o
m

Wisconsin, where immigrants from Brazil have created their site to connect with
each other, build personal and profess
ional relationships, and maintain cultural identity
(Conceição, Weber, & Baldor, 2009).


Conclusion

The inclusion of Web 2.0 in adult education seems appropriate in light of Lindeman’s
(1926) view of adult education as providing an environment for new methods and incentives for
informal self directed learning. Certainly the new methods for content creati
on such as blogs and
wikis create incentives for learning more about the actual subject of the content, how to use the
tools to store the content, and how to collaborate with others. Learners pursuing these activities
embody Knowles’ (1984) assumptions abo
ut the adult learner as self directed, problem focused,
building on past experience, and a voluntary participant in learning projects. The information
ecosystem with its multitude of interactions between individual learners, collaborative
communities of le
arners, and content within the information system of Web 2.0 brings to life
Illich’s (1971) vision of learning webs. Learners pursuing solutions to problems, creating
Web 2.0 and Adult Education
24




knowledge, investigating personal, professional, and spiritual questions with the assista
nce and
sometimes guidance of others, freely given is exactly what Illich meant by a learning web.

Many instructors are using Web 2.0 tools in their teaching. Podcasts can be developed on
class content and delivered to the learner at the learner’s conveni
ence. Podcasts can be developed
to bring information to learners in familiar, fun, and in easily digestible chunks (Campbell,
2005). Other tools such as chat rooms and wikis incorp
orated into blended or fully on
-
line
courses facilitate learning, team build
ing, and the co construction of knowledge. Learners can
continue using these tools after they complete a course or a workshop, so Web 2.0 provide
methods and opportunities for adult learners to “to see the activity of learning as something that
extends bey
ond the classroom” (King, 1998, p. 31).

Web 2.0 and Adult Education
25




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Web 2.0 and Adult Education
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Key Terms and Definitions

Blog:

A web
-
based journal.

Creative Commons Licensing
:

Legal framework to allow sharing of intellectual property

Collaboration
:

Interaction of two or more individual to generate new content, information or
product

Information Ecosystem
:

Information environment in which individuals a
nd communities
interact in internet.

Web 2.0
:

Software tools and information infrastructure that allows individuals to interact across
time and space on the internet.

Wiki
:

A web
-
based platform that facilitates collaboration on the internet.

World Wide We
b
:

A system of interlinked hypertext documents on the internet