Higher Education in a Web 2.0 world


This report, accessible via the link above, focuses on the prevalence of web 2.0 technologies in Higher Education, not only in the UK, but within the international context provided by USA, the Netherlands, Australia.

Key findings:

Prior experiences  – the digital divide still exists; use of web 2.0 is pervasive from age 11-15 upwards; web 2.0 helps define the boundaries between personal, group and publishing spaces online; group spaces could potentially be utilised for learning and teaching; appropriate skillsets for 21st century employability need developing; Information literacy strategies need developing.

Learner expectation – shifts in school pedagogic approaches impact sharply when students enter HE; face to face contact still matters to students; social technologies used in study contexts can present notional conflicts for students (not wanting tutors in their personal spaces); staff technological capabilities need taking into account; staff can effectively harness student skill levels to promote effective use.

Web 2.0 use in HE now – deployment of web 2.0 is not systematic and is mainly achieved through bottom-up pressure; learning and teaching usage is patchy; UK is currently well placed regarding its broadband infrastructure; advice and guidance is available to institutions (including via the RSCs) but adoption is followed at an institutional level.

Critical issues:

– Access to technology for all and the development of skillsets is a basic entitlement.

– Development of critical analytical thinking and maintenance of skills that keep pace with emerging technologies.

– Issues that will continue to shape web 2.0 use include:  scalability of use, the ability to offer a richer learning experience, the potential to exploit the growth and quality of open source materials.


Learner skills – HEIs should keep abreast of student prior experience and expectations; HEIs should provide appropriate technologies and associated skills development; web 2.0 participation should be encouraged, supported by research and best practice.

Staff skills – proficiency of use is a key area of concern; development of tutor / student relationships via web 2.0 should be explored where appropriate; HEIs should strategically support the use of web 2.0 and RSCs have a key role to play; The HEA will develop targeted staff support and CPD utilising the subject centres; JISC, Becta, the Leadership Foundation and other agencies will further research and collaborate on the embedding of web 2.0 within the pedagogic framework available to HEIs.

Infrastructure – JISC will ensure the dissemination of advice on the use of web 2.0 within existing legal and regulatory frameworks for senior management; JISC and the HEA to support the use of web 2.0 for all aspects of HEI business, including collaboration with the funding bodies who are to ensure that funding is maintained for investment in HEI physical infrastructure and research.

Inter-sectoral relationships – JISC, Becta and other agencies to embed close working relationships between schools, colleges and the university sector.

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