participatory culture, web 2.0, and learning 2.0

Interesting blog post by Henry Jenkins on the need to distinguish between the terms participatory culture, web 2.0, and learning 2.0 (via Gloria Jacobs). Jenkins argues that using web 2.0 as a concept for learning may be problematic, resulting in a view of learning that emphasizes tools and technologies, corporate control, and consumerism. (Participatory cultures on the the other hand are bottom up, peer to peer, and [in many cases] critical.) Jenkins uses Brown and Adler’s (2008) definition as a jumping off point for this discussion:

“The latest evolution of the Internet, the so-called Web 2.0, has blurred the line between producers and consumers of content and has shifted attention from access to information toward access to other people. New kinds of online resources– such as social networking sites, blogs, wikis, and virtual communities– have allowed people with common interests to meet, share ideas, and collaborate in innovative ways. Indeed, the Web 2.0 is creating a new kind of participatory medium that is ideal for supporting multple modes of learning.”

My biggest problem with this definition, and a focus on tools and technologies, is that 1) it comes across as rather determinist, and 2) it underplays the social learning theories that are at the heart of collaborative, peer to peer learning (at least in formal learning settings). It may seem a bit chicken and egg, but folks have been thinking about and practicing social learning for a while now. One of the nice things about Web 2.0 technologies is that they’ve provided a means for us to more easily put into practice some of these collaborative, peer to peer practices – but they didn’t invent the idea, and social learning would still happen without them.


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Filed under social media, teaching, tech in the classroom

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