University of Hertfordshire

A classification of Web 2.0 technologies and the role of Twitter in Higher Education

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

  • Guy Saward
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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 17th International Conference of the Association for Learning Technology
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherAssociation for Learning Technology
ISBN (Print)9780956331206
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Event17th International Conference of the Assocation of Learning: Into something rich and strange - making sense of the sea change - University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 7 Sep 20109 Sep 2010


Conference17th International Conference of the Assocation of Learning
Abbreviated titleALT-C 2010
CountryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


The exponential rise in the use of Web 2.0 technologies, as noted in JISC’s report (2009), is part of the sea-change in the structure and use of the Internet that is the conference theme. Practitioners responding to these developments must rise to the challenge identified by JISC of being at the centre of developing new approaches. Early adopters are clearly engaged in this process, but new or established practitioners can struggle to develop knowledge, understanding of and competencies in the wide range of available technologies. While criteria exist for the selection of specific products (e.g. accessibility), we are concerned with the selection of classes of technology. We present a classification of Web 2.0 technologies using communication and content as independent, orthogonal characteristics. This approach bypasses the perennial question of blogging versus wikis and goes beyond treating communication and content as opposite ends of a spectrum (Vrasidas, 2000) or considering which is ‘king’. Our classification allows assessment and comparison of the relative merits of different technologies in order to assess their use in supporting particular learning activities, e.g. contrasting the use of blogs, with tumblogs or microblogging. Our approach is currently being trialled with new lecturers as a method of making sense of available technology, whether a constructivist or objectivist approach is taken to learning design. Staff are asked to map technologies onto the classification scheme as a self-diagnostic/ awareness tool, before being asked to select technologies that may be suitable for a specific activity or to reinforce a particular characteristic of a learning interaction. The latter can be used in conjunction with different educational frameworks, such as the Community of Inquiry model (Garrison, Anderson, and Archer, 2000) with its natural affordance with Web 2.0 socially generated content, or principles of good curriculum design. Follow-up is planned to investigate whether learners have benefited from an improved understanding by staff in the selection and use of technologies to support learners. The intend outcome is to enable staff to address the question identified by JISC of the selection of Web 2.0 technology and pedagogy appropriate to the learning objectives being pursued.

ID: 784787