Innovative educators know that web 2.0 technologies have added another dimension to the ways we teach and learn. Whether using a Ning to spice up an ELA literacy circle, or GoogleVoice to engage English Language Learners, web 2.0 technologies have the potential to engage students, when they might otherwise not be. Political campaigns over the past few years have increasingly embraced web 2.0 technologies seeking to engage more voters. Viewing candidates' websites in the 2008 presidential election felt more like visiting a social network than a mere parking lot for platform text and publicity photos.
In a recent blog post, I asked: How educators and schools can prepare citizens and netizens for a world of work and private life infused with information and communication technology.
A recent summit organized by O'Reilly Media (widely attributed with the coinage of the phrase web 2.0 in 2005) called Gov 2.0 asked the following questions:
- How can we use technology to make government more transparent and accountable?
- How do we bridge the culture of web innovation, forged around the world and in Silicon Valley, with the culture of political innovation?
- How do we focus the power of the technology community on solving the nation's most pressing problems?
- How can Web 2.0 approaches such as crowdsourcing and collaborative development create new models of public-private partnerships?
There is a lot of worthwhile material from the summit. I recommend starting with watching Tim O'Reilly outline his thoughts about Gov 2.0:
For me, whats most compelling about O'Reilly's argument is the notion that communication technology can awaken civic engagement. If using a Ning learning network over the summer can engage students in reading (a task that all year they had difficulty with), then perhaps this new web culture of contributing to social networks, producing content, and connecting with others can help to increase engagement of individuals with their communities and governments.