• by Kristin Grayson, M.Ed. • IDRA Newsletter • September 2011 •
Ready or not, Web 3.0 is already here! Students are using it in their daily lives through multiple applications on their smart phones, iPads, computers and other devices. IDRA has developed a website, using Web 3.0 technology, to inform schools and help improve teaching quality and promote educational systemic changes. So, what is the IDRA OurSchool portal and what is Web 3.0? And what are other ways that educators can use the advances in technology to improve schools and consequently student achievement?
The power of this new generation of the Web (Web 3.0) is that it allows for the linkage of huge amounts of data that can be strategically managed and directed to attain goals and objectives. To put this into perspective, Web 1.0 was focused on Internet websites as static places where people could access information. It was followed by Web 2.0, also known as the social web (Armstrong, 2009), that focused on social networking and use of the web for interactive exchanges. This includes sharing sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and other sites where people collaborate and communicate in the virtual world.
Web 3.0, the newest phase of Internet use, is known as the semantic web. It includes the features of previous web versions and adds the awareness of location, moment and preferences (Armstrong, 2009). Web 3.0 is accomplished through linkages, created by advanced technology, that connect many disparate data sources and transform these pieces into meaningful information. This is done through accessing, sorting and summarizing large quantities of data.
A recent 2010 Verizon whitepaper defines: “Web 3.0 is referred to as the semantic web because it will use semantics – the study of meanings behind words and information – to interpret searchable content and thus deliver more appropriate and relevant content to end-users.” Hence, in Web 3.0, machines become the readers and writers of information that is important to us, whether us refers to an organization, a school or an individual user (McEneaney, 2011).
There are critics who say that Web 3.0 poses privacy and infringement issues, with machines controlling the information that is available to us (Kroeker, 2010). However, one must keep in mind that human agency determines the design choices made for computer usage. Other critics say that Web 3.0 lacks neutrality, that it reduces the democracy of the interactive Web 2.0 and might give incomplete information because of inadequate connectivity (Turban & Volonio, 2010). Despite these objections, in education, a key question remains: How can we use the latest technologies to work for us, as educators and educational systems?
IDRA has harnessed the power of Web 3.0 in its OurSchool data portal. The portal exemplifies Web 3.0 because it is uses multiple data sources and innovative technology to provide synthesized data in a way that becomes useable information transformed to actionable knowledge that can inform educational policy and practice. It is a gateway to actionable knowledge about Texas school districts and campuses.
IDRA OurSchool portal is an excellent example of how the power of Web 3.0 technology can be used to find actionable knowledge in this era of information (Posner & Bojorquez, 2008). On a technical level, the portal uses the open source software, MySQL (My Structured Query Language), to combine current data from the many data sets of the Texas Education Agency’s Academic Excellence Indicator Systems (AEIS), the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and localized inputs in a way that data are synthesized and transformed into information that users, including administrations, teachers, students and community, can interpret for strategic actions.
It informs users about individual Texas high schools and/or districts concerning school holding power (Johnson, 2009), school success, college preparation, college access for success, teaching quality, curriculum quality and access, student engagement, and parent and community engagement. This information is transformed into actionable knowledge (Posner, 2009) when there is reflection on educational issues shown by the information and actions that are taken to improve school systems, teaching quality, student achievement and long-term academic goals. IDRA uses its Quality Schools Action Framework™ (Robledo Montecel, 2010) as a way to interpret and take action on the now accessible information provided by the portal.
In the education field in general, Web 3.0 is being used in other ways that contribute to student learning, engagement and achievement. In Columbus, Indiana, instead of using textbooks, teachers use web tools and software provided by the local school district to type in topics and coursework standards to find appropriate activities and presentation materials for class use that are based on their individual student needs. Results of these searches give teachers information about the source, its readability, ratings and recommendations and enable differentiated instruction (Lord Nelson, et al., 2011).
The Web and Web 3.0 also are changing the entire concept of literacy. Literacy is now widened to include digital literacy. This implies a change in the concept of who the reader and writer are. The concept of reader is now much more inclusive of many people interacting in many ways. Interactive reading and writing has become a reality. In Web 1.0, the writer was the computer programmer, whereas the reader was the user. In Web 2.0, the user and/or the student can be both the reader and the writer. Web 3.0 uses literacy robots (litbots) as machines or computers that are readers and writers (McEneaney, 2011) that can synthesize data into information that is then transformed into knowledge.
Web 3.0 is seen in the surging number of new applications available for digital devices. Students are using digital devices and applications without reservation. It is our challenge as educators to use these Web 2.0 and 3.0 tools in creative ways to propel student achievement forward.
Education has to make significant reforms to fit with the netizens (the Z or “Internet Generation” born after 1995) of today’s school populations. These are today’s students who have grown up with the Internet, interactive digital gaming, social media and the unlimited imagination of how technology in small devices, such as phones, readers and pads, can be used for individual and group interaction (Robertson, 2009).
Growing up in the digital age, the netizens’ perspective is essentially different, more global and imaginative than those who came before them. In order to challenge and engage students as more advanced technologies emerge, there must be a paradigm shift for many educators and educational systems to incorporate the power of Web 2.0 as well as Web 3.0.
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Lord Nelson, L., E.J. Arthur, W.R. Jensen, & G. Van Horn. “Trading Textbooks for Technology: New Opportunities for Learning,” Phi Delta Kappan (April 2011) 92 (7): 46-50.
McEneaney, J.E. “Digital Literacies: Web 3.0, Litbots, and TPWSGWTAU,”
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Turban, E., & L. Volonio. Information Technology for Management: Transforming Organizations in the Digital Economy (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2010).
Verizon. Web 3.0: Its Promise and Implications for Consumers and Business, white paper (2010).
Kristin Grayson, M.Ed., is an education associate in IDRA Field Services. Comments and questions may be directed to her via e-mail at email@example.com.
[©2011, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the September 2011 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]